Come For The Banter - Stay For The Disappointment
Nucks Fan Rebuild & Retool Center - Come For The Banter - Stay For The Disappointment

Tonight there is no middle ground: It will either go down as one of the greatest victories in Canucks history, or another chapter in the tale of the most cursed franchise in hockey.

VANCOUVER CANUCKS VS EDMONTON OILERS (SERIES TIED 3-3)

6:00PM PST

ROGERS ARENA, VANCOUVER, BC

RADIO: SN650 TV: ESPN, SN, CBC, TVAS

As if things weren't emotional enough heading into the deciding game of this series, the hockey gods decided once again to test the Canucks. Already without their All Star goaltender since Game Two of the first round, and with a number of their best players obviously playing hurt, the Canucks will now have to find a way to victory without their top scorer in the post-season this year.

At the same time, the health of Brock Boeser, and the possible implications of this diagnosis on his career outweigh the importance of the game. The longest serving Canuck has been through a lot in his nine years in Vancouver. Injuries, struggles with years of a sub-par roster, leading to some to say he'd been a bust after an amazing rookie season. The emotional toll of his father's passing to cancer, and the Canucks nearly trading him away all culminated in this year, where he came out and had his best season ever. That it ends like this, and could potentially be the end of his career is just so damn cruel.

We've been saying all along that this is all just gravy on a season none of us dared to dream could happen. That doesn't change. What has changed, is the desire to see the Canucks come out of this night victorious. Of course it's not going to be easy, but with a packed house at Rogers Arena, and the way the Canucks have responded to bad performances like the one in Game Six, which was their worst of the playoffs by a mile, maybe this Cinderella story isn't done just yet.

In order to pull this off, there's going to have to be some changes. One of them is getting shots on goal, as many as they can. It's infuriating that they managed a paltry 15 shots on Stuart Skinner Saturday night. Allowing him to regain some confidence is a serious failure on the Canucks part, and bringing him back down to earth and back to his sub .800 save percentage is one of the biggest keys to a Canucks victory.

Another thing the Canucks must do is score on the bloody power play. Keep it simple, and just pound the damn puck on Skinner every chance they get. Get in his sight lines and create havoc in front of the net. They've wasted so many opportunities to get the upper hand on the Oilers with the failures on the power play. Tonight, they can change that.

Despite what seems a mountain of adversity, the bulk of the pressure is still on the Oilers. One cannot imagine that the brain trust of this team can survive another post-season failure, especially in a season where they were picked by many to win it all for the first time since their last Cup in 1990. With rumours swirling about Ken Holland potentially bailing for the open GM position in Columbus, a loss for the Oilers tonight could bring about a major shakeup.

It's going to take more than the Canucks' best players being their best players tonight. To a man, the Canucks have to step up and do this. Home teams tend to win more often in Game Seven, and the team that scores first wins around 75% of the time. Get that first goal early, break Skinner's confidence and do not let up til the siren goes.

LINEUPS

Canucks projected lineup

Pius Suter -- J.T. Miller -- Ilya Mikheyev

Dakota Joshua -- Elias Lindholm -- Conor Garland

Nils Hoglander -- Elias Pettersson -- Sam Lafferty

Phil Di Giuseppe -- Teddy Blueger -- Nils Aman

Quinn Hughes -- Filip Hronek

Carson Soucy -- Tyler Myers

Nikita Zadorov -- Ian Cole

Arturs Silovs

Casey DeSmith

Scratched: Mark Friedman, Noah Juulsen, Linus Karlsson, Christian Wolanin, Vasily Podkolzin

Injured: Thatcher Demko (undisclosed), Brock Boeser (undisclosed)

Oilers projected lineup

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins -- Connor McDavid -- Zach Hyman

Dylan Holloway -- Leon Draisaitl -- Evander Kane

Warren Foegele -- Ryan McLeod -- Derek Ryan

Mattias Janmark -- Sam Carrick -- Connor Brown

Mattias Ekholm -- Evan Bouchard

Darnell Nurse -- Vincent Desharnais

Brett Kulak -- Cody Ceci

Stuart Skinner

Calvin Pickard

Scratched: Corey Perry, Sam Gagner, Troy Stecher

Injured: Adam Henrique (lower body)

There was some discussion that we might see Miller and Pettersson paired up in Boeser's absence and from these lineups it doesn't look as though it'll start off that way, but we'll see what happens. Tocchet has done a fantastic job of using his changes at home, and we could see a bit of a blender tonight. Mikheyev and Lafferty are back in, and that's an experience thing more than anything else I'm sure. Having had some time to rest and heal (especially in Mikheyev's case) could help. No other changes, and no changes for the Oilers.

GAME DAY CHATTER

GAME DAY BATTLE HYMN

Amen. It's been a hell of a year, and it may come to an end tonight, but we know these guys won't go down without a fight. Go Canucks Go!

Another comeback win as the boys in blue & green blew the roof off Rogers Arena Wednesday night. Can they build on a dominant performance and head off to Edmonton with a 2-0 series lead?

VANCOUVER CANUCKS VS EDMONTON OILERS (CANUCKS LEAD SERIES 1-0)

7:00PM PST

ROGERS ARENA, VANCOUVER, BC

RADIO: SN650 TV: TNT, truTV, MAX, SN, SN360, CBC, TVAS

For every talking head that spent their time complaining how boring the first round series between the Canucks and Nashville was, the feeling that this was somehow the Canucks fault was blown out of the water with that game on Wednesday night. And while Nashville's head coach is probably still whining that 'the better team didn't win' that series, the Canucks gave the Oilers, and the hockey world a refresher course on what this team was built for.

And half way through the 2nd period, when Edmonton stretched their lead to 4-1, if you weren't watching the game, it would be natural to assume that the Oilers that ran roughshod through the NHL after the hiring of Kris Knoblauch were simply doing to the Canucks what they did to the LA Kings in round one. If you were watching the game however, you'd have seen that the Oilers were extremely fortunate to be up at all, let alone by three goals.

And sure, there was an element of the Oilers sitting back a bit, but any attempts to push forward were being met by one of the better defensive performances this year by the Canucks, most notably by the jaw dropping stat of Connor McDavid being held shotless in the playoffs for the first time in his career. Throw in a now obviously injured Leon Draisaitl, and the way the Canucks absolutely abused the defence pairing of Cody Ceci and Darnell Nurse, and it would appear rumours of the Canucks imminent demise were indeed unfounded.

A lot has been said about how the Canucks are underdogs here. That the Oilers, vastly more experienced and talented, will continue on their roll towards a Cup berth. The Canucks meanwhile, as they've done all season long, refuse to buy into these narratives, and have continued making their doubters look foolish.

So with a healthy three goal lead, Arturs Silovs shut the door, the Canucks held the Oilers shotless for over 22 minutes, and the Canucks showed the hockey world they can still be dominant at 5 on 5, and the acquisitions of Elias Lindholm and Nikita Zadorov became even larger. Big Z has been an absolute force in the post-season for the Canucks, with another goal and solid defensive play. And Lindholm. along with linemates Dakota Joshua and Conor Garland were a threat all night, in addition to an outstanding performance in their own end.

The key here is more of the same. While the majority of pundits said that the Canucks domination of the Oilers during the regular season meant nothing, that the playoffs were a different beast and the Oilers a different team now. Wednesday showed that to be untrue, as the Canucks, sticking to the gameplan that they've used all season, and got the same result in the end. This team was built to neutralize teams like McDavid, Draisaitl and the Oilers, and if they can continue to keep Edmonton's fearsome power play off the ice, they'll be just fine. Unless of course, something happens that drastically alters things tonight...

Oh, boy. I'd say we should expect at least 5 Oilers PPs tonight. This is gonna be a tough one.

LINEUPS

Oilers projected lineup

Warren Foegele -- Connor McDavid -- Zach Hyman

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins -- Leon Draisaitl -- Evander Kane

Dylan Holloway -- Ryan McLeod -- Corey Perry

Mattias Janmark -- Derek Ryan -- Connor Brown

Mattias Ekholm -- Evan Bouchard

Darnell Nurse -- Cody Ceci

Brett Kulak -- Vincent Desharnais

Stuart Skinner

Calvin Pickard

Scratched: Philip Broberg, Jack Campbell, Sam Carrick, Ryan Fanti, Sam Gagner, Troy Stecher

Injured: Adam Henrique (undisclosed)

Canucks projected lineup

Pius Suter -- J.T. Miller -- Brock Boeser

Nils Hoglander -- Elias Pettersson -- Ilya Mikheyev

Dakota Joshua -- Elias Lindholm -- Conor Garland

Phillip Di Giuseppe -- Teddy Blueger -- Sam Lafferty

Quinn Hughes -- Filip Hronek

Carson Soucy -- Tyler Myers

Nikita Zadorov -- Ian Cole 

Arturs Silovs

Casey DeSmith

Scratched: Mark Friedman, Nils Aman, Noah Juulsen, Vasily Podkolzin, Nikita Tolopilo

Injured: Thatcher Demko (undisclosed) 

So it's a game time decision, but all signs point to Draisaitl trying to play through whatever it is that's ailing him. Doesn't appear to be any other changes though we could see Sam Carrick fill in for Draisaitl if he can't go. No changes for the Canucks, and below we've got the list of Black Ace callups from the Abbotsford Canucks since they were eliminated from the AHL Playoffs Wednesday night.

GAME DAY CHATTER

GAME DAY BATTLE HYMN

Sometimes, metal gets a bad rap for being obsessed with the darker sides of existence, and to be fair, so much of the music lends itself to that. For me, it's a way to get the anger and frustration out of my system, but sometimes there's metal tracks that are just so wholesome and good you wanna share them. TEXAS TOAST CHAINSAW MASSACRE are a thrash band from Chicago who have a new album coming June 28th that you can get for free on their Bandcamp page! This is now my favourite song of all time, and it goes out to all the good boys and girls out there. This is 'I Wanna Pet Your Dog'. Crank it, take your dog for a nice pregame walk and then enjoy the game, everyone! Go Canucks Go!

After blowing an opportunity to close out at home, the Canucks are back in Nashville, with a second opportunity to move forward with a win over the Preds this afternoon.

VANCOUVER CANUCKS VS NASHVILLE PREDATORS (CANUCKS LEAD SERIES 3-2)

4:00PM PST

BRIDGESTONE ARENA, NASHVILLE, TN

RADIO: SN650 TV: MAX, truTV, TNT, BSSO, SN, TVAS, CBC

It's perfectly fine to be frustrated with the Game 5 loss. It was a missed opportunity, as well as a chance to get a bit of rest before taking on the Edmonton Oilers in the Pacific Division Final aka Round 2. That being said, the Canucks are still in the drivers seat, and if there's something that should keep everyone hopeful for today's game, it's that they've yet to play their best hockey of the post-season.

That's not to imply in any way that this will be easy. The Preds are going to come out hard from the drop of the puck, and much like they did in Game 3, the Canucks will need to weather the storm. Then again, it probably wouldn't surprise me to see the Canucks come storming out themselves. You have to know they're not happy they let the last game get away, and nothing would be more pleasing than taking the crowd out of it early.

The list of players who need to step up is far larger than those who have shone in this series, and they're going to need some help from the supporting cast to bring this across the finish line. And in the name all that is right and good, whatever Ilya Mikheyev has done to anger the hockey gods, please, I implore you, release him from your cruel grip. The poor bastard, and this fan base have suffered enough.

At the end of the day, the Canucks just need to get back to playing the systems that saw them shock the NHL this season. They've beaten better teams than Nashville, and are in this situation because the Preds goalie has stolen two games for them. That ends tonight.

LINEUPS

Canucks projected lineup

Pius Suter -- J.T. Miller -- Brock Boeser

Nils Hoglander -- Elias Pettersson -- Ilya Mikheyev

Dakota Joshua -- Elias Lindholm -- Conor Garland

Phillip Di Giuseppe -- Teddy Blueger -- Sam Lafferty

Quinn Hughes -- Filip Hronek

Carson Soucy -- Tyler Myers

Ian Cole -- Nikita Zadorov

Arturs Silovs

Casey DeSmith

Scratched: Mark Friedman, Nils Aman, Noah Juulsen, Vasily Podkolzin, Nikita Tolopilo

Injured: Thatcher Demko (undisclosed)

Predators projected lineup

Filip Forsberg -- Ryan O'Reilly -- Gustav Nyquist

Anthony Beauvillier -- Colton Sissons -- Jason Zucker

Mark Jankowski -- Tommy Novak -- Luke Evangelista

Cole Smith -- Michael McCarron -- Kiefer Sherwood

Roman Josi -- Dante Fabbro

Ryan McDonagh -- Tyson Barrie

Jeremy Lauzon -- Alexandre Carrier

Juuse Saros

Kevin Lankinen

Scratched: Luke Schenn, Jaret Anderson-Dolan, Cody Glass, Gustavs Grigals, Juuso Parssinen, Kevin Gravel

Injured: Spencer Stastney (upper body)

No changes either way, it would seem. If there is to be changes, both coaches are keeping their cards close to the vest. I wouldn't be surprised to see the lines get put in a blender a bit, especially to get guys like Elias Pettersson and J.T. Miller going.

GAME DAY CHATTER

Silovs has played well, and earned the start. It's not a knock on DeSmith, but in a way, Silovs is more experienced in big games given his run for Latvia at the World Championships last spring.

GAME DAY BATTLE HYMN

This band Killer Kin, and they hail from Connecticut. I love the old school vibe of this video, as well as the nods to Motorhead and Zeke in their sound. Filthy, grimy rock n roll the way it should be, baby! Crank up 'Point Blank' and get psyched for Game 6!!!

With three minutes to go in Game Four, it looked like the Canucks were headed back to Vancouver with the series tied. What no one counted on, was Brock Boeser unleashing hell in Nashville, scoring twice with Arturs Silovs on the bench to force OT. After that, they needed just a minute more for Elias Lindholm to seal the deal and push the Preds to the brink of elimination.

VANCOUVER CANUCKS VS NASHVILLE PREDATORS (CANUCKS LEAD SERIES 3-1)

7:00PM PST

ROGERS ARENA, VANCOUVER, BC

RADIO: SN650 TV: TVAS2, TBS, MAX, SN, BSSO

After the way the Canucks performed in Game Two, it certainly didn't feel like we'd be heading for an elimination game tonight. But after gutsy wins in Games Three and Four, they find themselves in the position to punch their ticket to the second round tonight with a win over Nashville. Given their health situation through four hard hitting games, getting a few days to rest and heal definitely sounds like something to take advantage of.

You can say that the Canucks didn't deserve to win on Sunday afternoon, but it was Nashville who took their foot off the gas in the dying minutes of the third, setting up one of the greatest Canucks playoff victories in franchise history. And how fitting that it was Brock Boeser, the Canucks' longest serving player, that put the team on his back and tied the game twice with the goalie pulled. This guy has been here through some of the darkest days, and by god, he may just may lead them to a shot at the Stanley Cup.

And how about the performance of Arturs Silovs? The Canucks turned to their third stringer, desperate when Casey DeSmith was unable to go, and the Hero of the great nation of Latvia said, "I stopped America, and I will stop Nashville, too!"

Combined with another strong defensive effort, the Canucks worked to give Silovs the opportunity to see pucks, clearing the net front and rebounds efficiently. They also put in another stellar night of penalty killing, as once again, the Canucks were forced to kill off some ticky-tack calls while Nashville seemed to commit fouls with impunity.

Instead of wondering if they were going to suffer a disappointing first round loss, the Canucks, much like their shocking regular season, are becoming the story of the 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs. It would have been easy to write them off given the loss of Demko, let alone DeSmith, but this team has a vibe so reminiscent of the 1994 Canucks team that battled back from being down 3-1 to Calgary to win that series, then take out the favoured Dallas Stars and Toronto Maple Leafs before coming within a goal of winning it all in Game Seven to he who shall not be named.

They have talent, speed, skill, strength, and seem to relish in proving people wrong. It may be one series, and it's a long road to go, but this team is making believers out of people by finding ways to win even when it seems they shouldn't. You know, the way really good teams do. I know for some who cover the game, it's gotta be tough admitting you've continued to be wrong about this team. And we enjoy watching your discomfort, trust me.

The beauty of Silovs' performance on Sunday, is that he's given them the option of going with him again in Game Five, rather than pushing DeSmith back if he's not quite ready. It's this kind of depth that's been missing from this team for the longest time, paying dividends when it truly matters. And early reports are that Silovs will indeed get the start tonight. Maybe. Both teams are playing it close to the vest in terms of changes tonight.

If there's one thing to be encouraged about heading into this game, it's that the Canucks have played far from what could be considered their best hockey. They've had a team play them tough, and despite all the challenges, still found a way to come out on top. They will need everyone on board for tonight, as the further you go, the the more costly passengers along for the ride can be.

LINEUPS

Predators projected lineup

Filip Forsberg -- Ryan O'Reilly -- Gustav Nyquist

Anthony Beauvillier -- Colton Sissons -- Jason Zucker

Mark Jankowski -- Tommy Novak -- Luke Evangelista

Cole Smith -- Michael McCarron -- Kiefer Sherwood

Roman Josi -- Dante Fabbro

Ryan McDonagh -- Luke Schenn

Jeremy Lauzon -- Alexandre Carrier

Juuse Saros

Kevin Lankinen

Scratched: Tyson Barrie, Jaret Anderson-Dolan, Cody Glass, Gustavs Grigals, Juuso Parssinen

Injured: Spencer Stastney (upper body)

Canucks projected lineup

Pius Suter -- J.T. Miller -- Brock Boeser

Nils Hoglander -- Elias Pettersson -- Ilya Mikheyev

Dakota Joshua -- Elias Lindholm -- Conor Garland

Phillip Di Giuseppe -- Teddy Blueger -- Sam Lafferty

Quinn Hughes -- Filip Hronek

Carson Soucy -- Tyler Myers

Ian Cole -- Nikita Zadorov

Arturs Silovs

Casey DeSmith

Scratched: Mark Friedman, Nils Aman, Noah Juulsen, Vasily Podkolzin, Nikita Tolopilo

Injured: Thatcher Demko (undisclosed)

GAME DAY CHATTER

If you haven't seen it yet, Chris Higgins' new feature 'All In The Details' is fantastic.

GAME DAY BATTLE HYMN

Swiss moshmonsters INSANITY ALERT have a new video for the title track to their new EP, a beautiful pisstake on a QUEEN classic. Enjoy 'Moshemian Thrashody' as you get pumped up for tonight!

Enjoy the game, everyone! Go Canucks Go!

Game 3 saw the Canucks get big games from their big names, a huge performance from Casey DeSmith, and gave Nashville a heapin' helpin' of their own medicine.

VANCOUVER CANUCKS VS NASHVILLE PREDATORS (CANUCKS LEAD SERIES 2-1)

2:00PM PST

BRIDGESTONE ARENA, NASHVILLE, TN

RADIO: SN650 TV: TBS, truTV, MAX, SN, TVAS, BSSO

It wasn't a masterpiece, by any stretch of the imagination, but playoff runs are sometimes about finding ways to win. And full credit to Rick Tocchet and his staff for making adjustments after a frustrating loss in Game 2, The Canucks were able to work through Nashville's defensive strategy, give Casey DeSmith the support he needed. A lot of the shots DeSmith faced were from the perimeter, and when he did face high danger opportunities, the defence were there to deal with rebounds.

Probably the biggest factor in the Game 3 victory was the arrival of the long lost Canucks PP that at one point in the season, put the fear of God into teams. J.T. Miller and Brock Boeser were outstanding, and we saw positive signs from not only Elias Pettersson, but sparks of life from Nils Hoglander and Ilya Mikheyev. The lasting impact of this win though, was the mental aspect. When the Predators know that taking penalties = a puck in the back of their net, it could make them a little hesitant to continue going for those big hits. That can open up a bit of space, and allow the Canucks to use their speed.

At the end of the day though, they're still going to need DeSmith to stand tall in the crease today if they hope to return to Vancouver on Tuesday with a 3-1 series lead. Winning the special teams battle is becoming a huge factor so far, and if they can continue to have success on the power play, as well as keep their phenomenal penalty killing so far going, it will pay off.

LINEUPS

Scrawled in sharpie on a chair thrown off the roof of a Nashville nightclub, it's today's potential lineups. though I heard you can find this on nhll dot com, too.

Canucks projected lineup

Pius Suter -- J.T. Miller -- Brock Boeser

Nils Hoglander -- Elias Pettersson -- Ilya Mikheyev

Dakota Joshua -- Elias Lindholm -- Conor Garland

Phillip Di Giuseppe -- Teddy Blueger -- Sam Lafferty

Quinn Hughes -- Filip Hronek

Carson Soucy -- Tyler Myers

Ian Cole -- Nikita Zadorov

Casey DeSmith

Arturs Silovs

Scratched: Mark Friedman, Nils Aman, Noah Juulsen, Vasily Podkolzin, Nikita Tolopilo

Injured: Thatcher Demko (undisclosed)

Predators projected lineup

Filip Forsberg -- Ryan O'Reilly -- Gustav Nyquist

Anthony Beauvillier -- Colton Sissons -- Jason Zucker

Mark Jankowski -- Tommy Novak -- Luke Evangelista

Cole Smith -- Michael McCarron -- Kiefer Sherwood

Ryan McDonagh -- Roman Josi

Jeremy Lauzon -- Alexandre Carrier

Dante Fabbro -- Luke Schenn

Juuse Saros

Kevin Lankinen

Scratched: Tyson Barrie, Jaret Anderson-Dolan, Cody Glass, Gustavs Grigals, Juuso Parssinen

Injured: Spencer Stastney (upper body)

No changes for the Canucks, while Nashville will be without Spencer Stastney, who left Game 3 after the hit by Dakota Joshua.

GAME DAY CHATTER

IYKYK

While it's no surprise he got a slap on the wrist, it's a surprise they even gave him a slap on the wrist. Complete douchebaggery from the Preds forward, and a costly one as the Canucks scored on the resulting PP.

GAME DAY BATTLE HYMN

With their new album out in a couple weeks time, Vancouver's own UNLEASH THE ARCHERS are preparing to bring their energetic brand of power metal to festivals around the globe, and while there's no shows planned in Canada thus far apart from a date in Laval, PQ in Spetember, there's sure to be some in their next touring cycle that you can check out. From 'Phantoma', out May 10 on Napalm Records, this is Seeking Vengeance.

A little afternoon hockey sounds like a great way to spend a Sunday, eh? Enjoy the game, everyone! Go Canucks Go!!!

A rebound game is what we are all calling for today!

Western Conference First Round, Game 3

7:30 p.m. ET; MAX, TBS, BSSO, TVAS2, SN

The Canucks sounded very positive after practice yesterday. Coach Taco brings a level of confidence that this team has missed in the past few coaches. His "Been there, seen that" mentality has to bring a calming influence to the dressing room and on the bench. I haven't seen him lose his shit yet. On Wednesday, Taco talked about embracing the villain role and enjoying the hostile environment they will face in Nashville. I sure hope JT Miller is listening to this. This series has been very hard hitting and the Canucks have done a good job of not going out of their way to hit and get a penalty. Infact, they have done a great job of drawing penalties.....unfortunately, they don't seem to know how to shoot the puck when they get a powerplay. On Thursday, Coach Taco addressed the lack of shots by saying that if the Preds are going to stand in the way of shots, Canuck players has open season to make them pay for that choice. I like that stance. Here is Taco from today's press conference.

The Captain has a few thoughts about tonight

While many want to focus on Demko/DeSmith, I want to talk about Petey and Boeser. They have a combined 3 shots in 2 games. I grant you that time and space have shrunk in these two games, you would have to believe that they should be able to adjust somewhat and find some space to get off some shots. Petey admits he needs to try...less? Or was it do less...want less....so many options. I just want him to shoot the puck when there is an opening and hit the net...or goalie.

The Canucks have been a great road team this year and getting one in Nashville is needed.

*record scratch*

Hey folks, it's Kent. Have a seat, we need to talk.

I know that this season has been a lot of fun, and making the playoffs was something we didn't dare to dream. It turns out there was a reason for this. There are currently unconfirmed reports that Thatcher Demko may have suffered a torn ACL. If that's the case, it's highly unlikely he's able to return in round 2 at all, if the Canucks should go on to win against Nashville.

That means that Casey DeSmith would have to go on the run of his life just to give the Canucks a chance at getting past the second round. Given the way he played in Game 2, and his performances since January it's hard to imagine them getting much further. Sure, we'll still hope, but with so many players having yet to make an appearance in this series, it's going to be an upset if they come out of this with a victory.

For the moment, the Canucks aren't saying anything different. But you know the expression: "where there's smoke, there's fire". Something's burning, and it's quite likely our playoff hopes.

LINEUPS

Canucks projected lineup

Pius Suter -- J.T. Miller -- Brock Boeser

Nils Hoglander -- Elias Pettersson -- Conor Garland

Dakota Joshua -- Elias Lindholm -- Ilya Mikheyev

Phillip Di Giuseppe -- Teddy Blueger -- Sam Lafferty

Quinn Hughes -- Filip Hronek

Carson Soucy -- Tyler Myers

Ian Cole -- Nikita Zadorov

Casey DeSmith

Arturs Silovs

Scratched: Mark Friedman, Nils Aman, Noah Juulsen, Vasily Podkolzin, Nikita Tolopilo

Injured: Thatcher Demko (undisclosed)

Predators projected lineup

Filip Forsberg -- Ryan O'Reilly -- Gustav Nyquist

Anthony Beauvillier -- Colton Sissons -- Jason Zucker

Mark Jankowski -- Tommy Novak -- Luke Evangelista

Cole Smith -- Michael McCarron -- Kiefer Sherwood

Ryan McDonagh -- Roman Josi

Jeremy Lauzon -- Alexandre Carrier

Spencer Stastney -- Luke Schenn

Juuse Saros

Kevin Lankinen

Scratched: Tyson Barrie, Jaret Anderson-Dolan, Cody Glass, Dante Fabbro, Gustavs Grigals, Juuso Parssinen

Injured: None

Status report

Myers missed a 4-1 loss in Game 2 because of an illness but is expected to play. The Canucks held an optional morning skate. … Parssinen, a forward, was recalled from the Milwaukee Admirals of the American Hockey League on Thursday but is not expected to play. Forsberg did not participate in the morning skate but is expected to play.

GAME DAY CHATTER

Fine, want me to be not so negative? Here's something to draw some inspiration from for tonight.

GAME DAY BATTLE HYMN

I did have a perfect track lined up for this one, but when I saw this pop up, I decided to bump the other one forward a game. This one is a cover of a Bad Brains tune from GBI (Dave Grohl with Charlie Benante and Scott Ian of ANTHRAX). It was released as a special 7" single on the weekend as part of Record Store Day on MEGAFORCE Records, and really captures that old school hardcore vibe.

It's not looking good, but maybe they can pull this off. A lot of shit has to change in order for that to happen though. Here's hoping they can actually pull this off. Go Canucks Go!

For the first time since 2015, there's playoff hockey at Rogers Arena. Towel Power is back, as the Canucks open their first round series against the Nashville Predators.

VANCOUVER CANUCKS VS NASHVILLE PREDATORS

7PM PST

ROGERS ARENA, VANCOUVER, BC

TV: CBC, SPORTSNET, SPORTSNET 360, ESPN

I'm not saying it's been a long time since there was a home playoff game in Vancouver, but the last time fans bought playoff tickets we probably didn't imagine how bad the next 8 years would be, and apart from a loophole playoff appearance in 2020's bubble Cup, that we'd be missing out for that whole stretch.

It's been hard to be a Canucks fan, but not much harder than the post-2011 era. We've seen some shit. We endured almost a decade of excruciatingly bad management and coaching. We saw the final years of the Sedin Brothers frittered away, and we saw a team that for a while was Must See TV everytime they played turned into You Can't Make Me Watch This. Matt Bartkowski. Luca Sbisa. Jay Beagle. Michael Del Zotto. Loui Eriksson. Adam Gaudette. Markus Granlund. Erik Gudbranson. Olli Juolevi. Jayson Megna. Derrick Pouliot. Antoine Roussel. Tim Schaller. Jack Skille. Jake Virtanen. Like I said, we've seen some shit.

We went from Wizardous Sedinery to whatever the hell the last few years were. And while Jim Benning managed to acquire some of the core, it was what's happened since he was replaced by Jim Rutherford and Patrik Allvin. And even then, as they began to retool around this team's stars, it took another coaching change for everything to fall into place for the Canucks.

We'd love to tell you that we saw this coming. And we did get a hint that the dark days were coming to an end when Rick Tocchet took over behind the bench. But there's not a soul alive that had the Canucks not just making the playoffs, but being in the hunt for the Presidents' Trophy until the final days of the season. There's been lots of talk about the Canucks' high PDO, that so much of their success is based on luck. That's pretty insulting when you look at the way Tocchet and his coaching staff transformed this team, getting the entire roster to buy in on playing 200 ft hockey every night, and being accountable for every shift. I mean, he's turned Tyler Myers into a reliable NHL defenceman!

Sure, there's definite room for improvement, and this could all end in a few days, but there's an actual path to the Western Conference Finals here. Get out of the first round and amazing things can happen. Look at the 1982 run, where the Canucks, proud owners of a 77 point season, lost just two games in three rounds, knocking off Calgary, Los Angeles and Chicago before getting steamrolled by that juggernaut New York Islanders squad. It all starts with one win, and then anything can happen.

It's been said that as far as first round opponents go, this is the matchup that the Canucks should want. And there's some truth to that, given how these teams matched up this season. The Canucks swept the season series, outscoring Nashville 13-6. And while that came in the first half of the season, before the Preds went on their ridiculous tear, they've still struggled against contenders at times. At the end of the day, when you match these teams up on offence and goaltending, the Canucks have the edge, and should be able to advance to round two. We all remember the emergence of Thatcher Demko in the bubble playoffs, when he damn near stole the series from Vegas. Demko's been amazing this year, and eager to help lead the Canucks to victory.

What's going to get it done is a continuation of the team's mindset on defence. They've done a massive turnaround in terms of how much harder they are to generate offence against compared to the past few seasons, and do a fantastic job on breakouts when they win battles for loose pucks. They're much more physical than previous versions of the team, and in the past you'd think they'd struggle against a team like Nashville, but this season the Canucks showed physically they can go toe to toe with anyone.

What has to get better is secondary scoring. It was rolling early in the season, but dried up for long stretches. If we can get guys like Ilya Mikheyev, Elias Lindholm, Teddy Blueger and Sam Lafferty pitching in and taking a bit of the load off Elias Pettersson, JT Miller, Brock Boeser and Quinn Hughes. And hey, the trend of getting more scoring from the back end was a pleasant surprise this season, and will definitely help them if they want to advance.

It will be interesting to see how Tocchet handles that top Nashville line of Filip Forsberg, Ryan O'Reilly and Gustav Nyqvist. They could throw the Miller/Boeser/Suter line, or go with Lindholm, Dakota Joshua and Conor Garland.

They'll also need the once terrifying power play to become a threat again. It's fallen off badly, but if they can just simplify things and get back to what was working, it'll be a deterrent the way it was earlier in the year.

LINEUPS

It is my pleasure to let you know that these potential Game One lineups are according to the ol' nhl dot com thingy:

Predators projected lineup

Filip Forsberg -- Ryan O'Reilly -- Gustav Nyquist

Mark Jankowski -- Colton Sissons -- Jason Zucker

Anthony Beauvillier -- Tommy Novak -- Luke Evangelista

Cole Smith -- Michael McCarron -- Kiefer Sherwood

Ryan McDonagh -- Roman Josi

Jeremy Lauzon -- Alexandre Carrier

Spencer Stastney -- Luke Schenn

Juuse Saros

Kevin Lankinen

Scratched: Tyson Barrie, Jaret Anderson-Dolan, Cody Glass, Dante Fabbro, Gustavs Grigals

Injured: None

Canucks projected lineup

Pius Suter -- J.T. Miller -- Brock Boeser

Nils Hoglander -- Elias Pettersson -- Sam Lafferty

Dakota Joshua -- Elias Lindholm -- Conor Garland

Phillip Di Giuseppe -- Teddy Blueger -- Ilya Mikheyev

Quinn Hughes -- Filip Hronek

Carson Soucy -- Tyler Myers

Ian Cole -- Nikita Zadorov

Thatcher Demko

Casey DeSmith

Scratched: Mark Friedman, Nils Aman, Noah Juulsen, Vasily Podkolzin, Arturs Silovs

Injured: None

Both teams head into this series 'healthy', and with no shocking lineup moves. It is a little surprising that PDG is in over Podkolzin, but unless he lights it up, expect that to change as the series goes on. Other than that, the lines are pretty much the same as the past few contests for the Canucks.

GAME DAY CHATTER

GAME DAY BATTLE HYMN

We've been waiting so damn long for this, it's time to get loud, friends! Let's crank up some of Ireland's finest and make sure you've got the beverages chilled. Playoff hockey is back, so Shut Up and Shout!

We're stoked to have been able to spend this season actually enjoying Canucks hockey again, as well as playoffs on Rogers Arena ice. Here's to a long run, and bringing 54 years of heartbreak and frustration to a close. Enjoy the game everyone! Go Canucks Go!

With the Division title in their grasp, and a chance at the Conference crown, the Canucks finish their home schedule against the Flames with a healthy Thatcher Demko in the crease tonight.

Vancouver Canucks (49-22-9) vs. Calgary Flames  (37-38-5)

7pm PDT; 10 p.m. ET

TV: Sportsnet Pacific, Sportsnet West

Radio: Sportsnet 650

50 wins. Wrap your heads around that one for a moment. Every single point gained of late has been an extra cherry on top of the sundae that has been this unexpected season. To get to 50 wins for just the third time in franchise history is beyond amazing. And while there's still a lot to be decided, it's hard to get mad at any missteps these guys make given the past few seasons of misery.

Now that's not to say they should get ahead of themselves. It's still possible for the Oilers to overtake them in Game 82 should the Canucks lose both games in regulation. Winning out could see them possibly snagging the top spot in the Western Conference, which is great for home ice in the first three rounds, but has you facing Vegas or LA in Round One instead of the preferable Nashville Predators. Not that the Preds are a pushover, they've had a hell of a turn around. But if the Canucks want to get on a roll, this is the best path for them, and letting Dallas and Edmonton deal with the other two doesn't hurt, either.

Tonight they'll meet a Calgary Flames team that once again failed to meet expectations, and wasted another year of prime Jacob Markstrom in the process. Getting Thatcher Demko back, healthy and rested for the playoffs should alleviate some of the fears y'all have been feeling heading into the post-season, and a fairly healthy team to start the playoffs is all we could hope for, really.

An OT loss tonight will clinch things for the Canucks, as they have the tiebreaker over the Oilers, and it'll help ensure they get that first round date with the Preds, too. I know we're not used to things going the Canucks way, but the Rutherford/Allvin/Tocchet era just doesn't do past narratives, I guess.

LINEUPS

Scrawled on a dumpster beside the Costco across the street from Rogers Arena, this lineup may also have appeared on the nhl dot com thingy...

Flames projected lineup

Martin Pospisil -- Nazem Kadri -- Andrei Kuzmenko

Yegor Sharangovich -- Mikael Backlund -- Andrew Mangiapane

Jonathan Huberdeau -- Connor Zary -- Dryden Hunt

Matt Coronato -- Kevin Rooney -- Adam Klapka

MacKenzie Weegar -- Daniil Miromanov

Oliver Kylington -- Rasmus Andersson

Ilya Solovyov -- Brayden Pachal

Jacob Markstrom

Dustin Wolf

Scratched: A.J. Greer, Dennis Gilbert, Walker Duehr, Nikita Okhotiuk

Injured: Blake Coleman (upper body), Joel Hanley (undisclosed)

Canucks projected lineup

Pius Suter -- J.T. Miller -- Brock Boeser

Nils Hoglander -- Elias Pettersson -- Ilya Mikheyev

Dakota Joshua -- Elias Lindholm -- Conor Garland

Vasily Podkolzin -- Teddy Blueger -- Sam Lafferty

Quinn Hughes -- Filip Hronek

Carson Soucy -- Tyler Myers

Ian Cole -- Nikita Zadorov

Thatcher Demko

Casey DeSmith

Scratched: Mark Friedman, Nils Aman, Noah Juulsen, Phillip Di Giuseppe

Injured: None

No real changes for the Canucks apart from the return of Demko, and man is it nice to see that injured list empty heading into Game One next week. Markstrom will go for the Flames, as we get to see Andrei Kuzmenko one last time this season. If the Canucks check him the way they handled Leon Draisaitl Saturday night, it's gonna be a long one for the Flames.

GAME DAY CHATTER

GAME DAY BATTLE HYMN

Although I'm sure you don't need much to get your pulse racing right now, this 3:00 ripper from BAT will get you rarin' to go for the post season! Off their new album 'Under The Crooked Claw' on Nuclear Blast Records, this is 'Streetbanger'!

Enjoy the game, folks! Go Canucks Go!

The important thing to take away from last night's loss in Vegas is that we should all be panicking and the sky is most definitely falling, right?

Vancouver Canucks (46-21-8) vs. Arizona Coyotes  (31-38-5)

7pm PDT; 10 p.m. ET

TV: Sportsnet Pacific, SCRIPPS

Radio: Sportsnet 650

Before we get started, I just want to take a moment to say thank you to everyone who reached out as I have been trying to deal with the health-related knucklepuck that's been thrown at me. The response and the love was truly humbling, and gave me strength in the recovery process. I'm down a kidney, and in two weeks I will begin my first treatment in a year of immunotherapy to help my body fight off any further outbreaks of cancer. I'm going to try my best to keep contributing through this, as we prepare for the first real playoff run in almost a decade.

So, there's no way to sugar coat it. Last night sucked. Yes, the officiating was bad, and was definitely a factor, but the Canucks lost that game, plain and simple. It would be easy to look at the last couple weeks and say well, they lost to Colorado, Dallas and now Vegas, obviously they can't hang with the big boys. I don't buy that. The first two losses could easily have been wins, and the Avs and Stars won hard fought games that were decided by one mistake. Last night? It was a comedy of errors, compounded by two officials who have been making a strong case for genuine bias against a particular team.

Yeah, it was an ugly loss, and there was little to find that you could be positive about in it, but we need to look at the big picture here, folks. It doesn't erase a year of hard work, and let's face it: it's better to shit the bed now than after April 20th. Are there concerns? Of course there are. No one's trying to say that the Canucks are a sure thing to go all the way, and if they are, they're wrong. What they are is a good team, that, when they're healthy, with their all star goaltender in the crease, they are one of the better teams in the NHL this season. Don't buy into the mindset that anything less than a Cup this year is a failure, either. The only failure would be a first round sweep, and with Thatcher Demko in goal I just can't see that happening no matter who they play.

What is happening with this team right now is probably helping far more than it's hurting them. Look back at last year's Boston Bruins. They were on cruise control through the whole season, and looked untouchable. They faced adversity for the first time in Round One and folded under that pressure.

The playoffs are hard. None of these teams are going to be an easy matchup, and the more the Canucks see they can't bring anything less than 100% of the style of play that saw them utterly dominate some of the league's better teams this season, the better. I mean, it's possible some guys are playing hurt, and we saw just how important Dakota Joshua has become to this hockey club when he returned after six weeks away to heal a broken hand. It's been said by many smarter than myself: Trust the process.

There's a long way to go in this battle to bring this franchise back to respectability, and none of us expected things to go the way they have this season. And while they may be ahead of schedule, whatever happens shouldn't dampen your hopes for the Canucks. It was supposed to be a 'maybe they can battle for a wild card spot' kind of year, and instead, they'll head into the post-season with home ice advantage. That alone is huge, and trust me: it's not lost on the guys in that room, especially the ones who were part of the bubble playoff team in 2020.

Just breathe and enjoy this. It's just the start of things being better, and this whole season has been such a joy after a decade of abject misery. It's fun again, and I refuse to lose sight of that.

LINEUPS

The following lineup was scrawled into the dirt on an ACME delivery truck that was heading off to deliver to some schmuck trying to catch a roadrunner... or maybe it was on the ol nhl dot com thingy...

10 p.m. ET; SCRIPPS, SNP

Canucks projected lineup

Nils Hoglander -- Elias Pettersson -- Brock Boeser

Dakota Joshua -- J.T. Miller -- Conor Garland

Ilya Mikheyev -- Pius Suter -- Sam Lafferty

Vasily Podkolzin -- Teddy Blueger -- Arshdeep Bains

Quinn Hughes -- Filip Hronek

Carson Soucy -- Tyler Myers

Ian Cole -- Nikita Zadorov

Arturs Silovs

Casey DeSmith

Scratched: Mark Friedman, Phillip Di Giuseppe, Noah Juulsen

Injured: Thatcher Demko (lower body), Elias Lindholm (upper body)

Coyotes projected lineup

Clayton Keller -- Nick Bjugstad -- Nick Schmaltz

Lawson Crouse -- Logan Cooley -- Dylan Guenther

Matias Maccelli -- Jack McBain -- Josh Doan

Liam O’Brien -- Alex Kerfoot -- Michael Carcone

J.J. Moser -- Sean Durzi

Juuso Valimaki -- Michael Kesselring

Travis Dermott -- Josh Brown

Connor Ingram

Karel Vejmelka

Scratched: None

Injured: Barrett Hayton (lower body)

Arturs Silovs gets the nod tonight, coming off a fantastic performance Sunday against the Anaheim Ducks at home. And while it's 3 games in 4 nights for the Canucks, expect them to come out fired up after a sub-par performance last night, and also because these are two teams that have been developing a genuine dislike for each other.

GAME DAY CHATTER

With a 60 minute effort and no passengers tonight, they can get things back on track as they have a huge game Saturday night against the Kings. The good news is, they could have Demko back, as he will be eligible to come off LTIR this weekend. Start treating every game like the playoffs have already started, and we'll see where this goes.

GAME DAY BATTLE HYMN

I'm sorry you were all subjected to the ahem, musical choices that Westy provided in my absence, but I assure that I will make amends, starting now. And since the Canucks are in Arizona tonight, how about a brand new one from OG AZ thrashers ATROPHY? A long awaited new album is coming soon, and from that disc called 'Asylum' on Massacre Records, this is 'Punishment For All'.

It's really good to be back, especially with a potential for an honest to god playoff run that starts in a couple weeks. I'm glad to be able to be here with you guys for this. LFG!

Coming off a frustrating overtime loss, the Canucks head into the All Star break with one last game, and a chance to make amends for another frustrating overtime loss as they host the Columbus Blue Jackets.

CANUCKS (31-11-5) at TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS (15-23-9)

ROGERS ARENA, VANCOUVER, BC

7:00 PM PST

SPORTSNET PACIFIC, SN1, CITY TV

In a way, I kind of feel sorry for Teddy Blueger. I mean, dude rolls out a 3rd period hat trick including the tying goal with less than a minute remaining in regulation, and all everyone is talking about is Elias Pettersson.

Was it a blown call? By this season's standards, absolutely. Was he the reason they lost in OT? Absolutely. Was head coach Rick Tocchet right to call EP40 out after the game? Absolutely. Was it excessive? Absolutely not. Was it blown out of proportion by the media? Absolutely not. I know it's really bog standard to call out the media anytime someone thinks they were out of line, but when the harshest reporting on it came from the rights holder, I think Tocchet's complaint doesn't hold up. It'd be a shame to see him be less than as honest as he's been since taking the reins in Vancouver, because it's been such a revelation.

After tonight, the Canucks have 33 games remaining, and their schedule in February after the All Star Weekend is absolutely brutal. It kicks off with a 5 game Eastern swing that sees them run the gauntlet of Carolina, Boston and a weekend pre-noon Pacific time back to back in Detroit and Washington. They follow that up with a game in Chicago before returning home. That is a stupid amount of travel, especially the back and forth between Boston, Detroit and Washington. And it's not just this trip. They face the Bruins twice this month, as well as twice against Detroit, plus Colorado, Winnipeg, Los Angeles, and Pittsburgh. 13 games in 24 days. If they can come through this with a winning record, there's a good chance they'll be able to hang onto the division lead.

And after a game that was a bit of a deviation from what we've been used to this season in terms of complete efforts, we're hoping that tonight we see the Canucks come out all guns blazing against a team that definitely took advantage of a road weary Vancouver squad last time they met.

The Blue Jackets haven't forgotten how to battle, and came through with a big win over the Calgary Flames Thursday night, but there's really no excuse for the Canucks to not show up for this one, looming vacation or not.

LINEUPS

Written on a sandbag as everyone prepares for another atmospheric river adventure is tonight's lineup, though it also might have been nhl dot com...

Blue Jackets projected lineup

Johnny Gaudreau -- Cole Sillinger -- Yegor Chinakhov

Adam Fantilli -- Boone Jenner -- Jack Roslovic

Kent Johnson -- Dmitri Voronkov -- Kirill Marchenko

Alexandre Texier -- Sean Kuraly -- Justin Danforth

Zach Werenski -- Erik Gudbranson

Ivan Provorov -- Damon Severson

Jake Bean -- Andrew Peeke

Elvis Merzlikins

Daniil Tarasov

Scratched: Emil Bemstrom, Mathieu Olivier, Nick Blankenburg

Injured: Adam Boqvist (upper body), Patrik Laine (clavicle)

Canucks projected lineup

Pius Suter -- J.T. Miller -- Brock Boeser

Ilya Mikheyev -- Elias Pettersson -- Andrei Kuzmenko

Dakota Joshua -- Teddy Blueger -- Conor Garland

Nils Hoglander -- Nils Aman -- Sam Lafferty

Quinn Hughes -- Filip Hronek

Ian Cole -- Tyler Myers

Nikita Zadorov -- Noah Juulsen

Thatcher Demko

Casey DeSmith

Scratched: Linus Karlsson, Mark Friedman

Injured: Carson Soucy (hand), Phillip Di Giuseppe (lower body), Guillaume Brisebois (concussion)

Can we be blunt here? If the Canucks get bogged down in another low event game against a team whose top defensive pairing includes Eric Gudbranson, and without Patrik Laine, they should be put on blast.

GAME DAY CHATTER

GAME DAY BATTLE HYMN

I saw a documentary piece on Youtube the other day, that looked at the increasing numbers of females making an impact in the metal world. It was an interesting look at the things women have to endure to make it in a male dominated industry, but also about how metal is growing and living up to its ideals of being welcoming to anyone. One of the bands feature was SLAVES TO SIRENS, an all female band from Lebanon. This is a band that literally breaks laws to exist, and that my friends is metal as fuck.

So enjoy the game tonight, and make sure to check back as we get you set up for the All Star Canucks Takeover of Toronto as well as the stretch run and the upcoming NHL Trade Deadline. Go Canucks Go!

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