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

After a frustrating loss in St Louis, the Canucks have some issues to address with the top 6 and getting them back in gear. It's Saturday, so maybe it's time to roll with 6/49 and bring back the Lotto Line?

CANUCKS (24-11-3) at NEW JERSEY (21-14-1)

PRUDENTIAL CENTER, NEWARK, NJ

4:00 PM PST

SPORTSNET PACIFIC, SN1

One of the great things about this year's version of the Canucks, is that games like Thursday's loss in St Louis have been rare this year. They're a little distressing, and something that needs to be nipped in the bud. Probably the two most glaring issues from that game were the Canucks losing a fucktillion faceoffs, and missing the net a fucktillion times. Making things easy for Jordan 'Where exactly were you three years ago today?' Binnington isn't something any team should do, lest the braintrust at Hockey Canada be fooled he's somehow supposed to lead Canada to glory at the upcoming World Cup Of Hockey next year.

So while the Bottom 6 continue to wreak havoc against their opponents, the top 6 have been alarmingly quiet. Yes, Elias Pettersson notched two earlier this week against the Ottawa Senators, but it's clear there's issues that are probably not just Andrei Kuzmenko's unwillingness to play a 200 foot game. The solution is simple: Like the rest of us on Saturdays, it's time to take a chance on 6/4(0)9 and reunite the Lotto line.

Yes, having the ability to roll four lines that can score was great while it lasted, but this is an adjustment that we know will work. And it may have the added bonus of giving the Canucks suddenly floundering power play the kick in the ass it needs. I'm not one of those guys who's gonna complain about J.T. Miller and Brock Boeser despite their struggles these past few games. And honestly, if you're still bitching and moaning about Miller, I wonder if you're truly watching his contributions to the games, because the Canucks are a better team this season because of how he's bought in to Rick Tocchet's plan. So let's throw their best forwards together, and put either Nils Hoglander or Sam Lafferty with Kuzmenko and Ilya Mikheyev, and force teams like the Devils to have to either have to focus on trying to deal with the speed and skill of the top 6, or risk spreading out so the third and fourth lines don't burn them.

This road trip is a tough one, and given the way this team has struggled against the Devils over the past few years, they're going to have to be air tight when it comes to errors in this game. There are a couple things that could work in the Canucks favour tonight though. The Devils were involved in a wild one against the Chicago Blackhawks last night, that saw 64 minutes in penalties and an open ice Scott Stevens special that left Connor Bedard with a fractured jaw.

They're also going with youngster Nico Daws in net after Vitek Vanecek got the win last night against Chicago. If the Canucks can get to Daws early and often, they'll give themselves a shot at securing a win, something they've managed just once in the last ten meetings with New Jersey.

LINEUPS

The following lineup was painted on the side of a barn in Old Bridge, NJ, but also may have been seen on nhl dot com...

Canucks projected lineup

Ilya Mikheyev -- Elias Pettersson -- Sam Lafferty

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

Dakota Joshua -- Teddy Blueger -- Conor Garland

Nils Hoglander -- Nils Aman -- Linus Karlsson

Quinn Hughes -- Filip Hronek

Nikita Zadorov -- Tyler Myers

Ian Cole -- Noah Juulsen

Thatcher Demko

Casey DeSmith

Scratched: Mark Friedman, Andrei Kuzmenko

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

Devils projected lineup

Tyler Toffoli -- Jack Hughes -- Jesper Bratt

Erik Haula -- Nico Hischier -- Dawson Mercer

Curtis Lazar -- Michael McLeod -- Alexander Holtz

Brendan Smith -- Chris Tierney -- Nathan Bastian

Luke Hughes -- John Marino

Jonas Siegenthaler -- Simon Nemec

Colin Miller -- Kevin Bahl

Nico Daws

Vitek Vanecek

Scratched: Graeme Clarke

Injured: Dougie Hamilton (pectoral), Tomas Nosek (foot), Timo Meier (undisclosed), Ondrej Palat (lower body)

Not that we wish him any ill will, but we certainly wouldn't shed a tear if Jack Hughes was unable to go tonight. Hughes, who left last night's game against the Blackhawks and did not return, is the team's leading scorer. The injuries are starting to mount for the Devils as they battle to hang onto their wild card slot in the East.

GAME DAY CHATTER

Great news for the Canucks D core, and while he'll likely be a game time decision, it does mean that one of Ian Cole and Noah Juulsen will have to come out. Both have been playing well in their third pairing roles, especially Juulsen and the physicality he brings to the back end.

GAME DAY BATTLE HYMN

Since Jimmi and Westy seem to think that my inclusion of JUDAS PRIEST was the reason for the Canucks loss on Thursday (yeesh) I have decided to respond by a) shaking my head in their general direction, and b) upping the heaviness factor. While I feel bad for you when they subject you to the crap they post in here when I am not at the helm (to get a rise out of me more than anything else), today it's time to fight back. Bay Area bastards GHOUL are back with a new single as they prepare to hit the road with label mates NECROT and DEAD HEAT in support of MUNICIPAL WASTE over the next couple months.

'Noxious Concoctions' is their first new tune in a while, and one that if you're familiar with them at all, hits hard as hell. Make sure and check them (and a ton of other cool bands) out at Tankcrimes Records.

Enjoy the game, folks. Go Canucks Go!

Seven games in eleven nights. It just refuses to get easier for the Canucks as they head off on one of their longest and toughest road trips of the 23/24 season, starting tonight in St Louis.

CANUCKS (24-10-3) at ST LOUIS (18-17-1)

ENTERPRISE CENTER, ST LOUIS, MO

5:00 PM PST

SPORTSNET PACIFIC

While it wasn't without its warts, the Canucks still came out with a better overall effort on the 2024 side of the end of the year, than what we saw against Philadelphia a few days earlier. I'm not particularly thrilled with the second period we saw from them, after what was probably the most dominant first period performance they've shown us all year. They took their foot off the pedal and allowed the Senators a whiff of optimism in a game where they had no business doing that, and that will surely be addressed.

Another thing that had to be addressed was the injury in the first period to Phillip DiGiusepe. It has to be frustrating for him, having just made it back into the lineup only to pull something and miss the rest of the game after getting an opportunity on the Miller/Boeser line.

Karlsson will get into the lineup right away, with Nils Aman also getting back in on the fourth line.

These teams are meeting for the second time this season, the first one being a lopsided 5-0 Canucks win at the end of October. The Blues are 5-3-0 under new head coach Drew Bannister after parting ways with Craig Berube last month. They're still in tough to try and claw their way back into a playoff spot, but losing the last two, while the Oilers and Kraken have won their last six and five games respectively, have allowed those two rivals to leapfrog them as they chase down the Arizona Coyotes for the final Wild Card slot in the Western Conference.

LINEUPS

The following lineup was spray painted on the Arch, and also, apparently, the ol' nhl dot com thingy...

Canucks projected lineup

Ilya Mikheyev -- Elias Pettersson -- Sam Lafferty

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

Dakota Joshua -- Teddy Blueger -- Conor Garland

Nils Hoglander -- Nils Aman -- Linus Karlsson 

Quinn Hughes -- Filip Hronek

Nikita Zadorov -- Tyler Myers

Ian Cole -- Noah Juulsen

Thatcher Demko

Casey DeSmith

Scratched: Andrei Kuzmenko, Mark Friedman

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

Blues projected lineup

Pavel Buchnevich -- Robert Thomas -- Jordan Kyrou

Brandon Saad -- Brayden Schenn -- Jake Neighbours

Alexey Toropchenko -- Kevin Hayes -- Kasperi Kapanen

Nathan Walker -- Oskar Sundqvist -- Sammy Blais

Nick Leddy -- Colton Parayko

Torey Krug -- Matthew Kessel

Marco Scandella -- Scott Perunovich

Jordan Binnington

Joel Hofer

Scratched: Nikita Alexandrov, Tyler Tucker

Injured: Justin Faulk (lower body)

So it looks as though Andrei Kuzmenko is back in the doghouse again. It also appears Sam Lafferty is back on the first line, and Pius Suter's strong play since his return has been rewarded with a promotion to the second line with Miller and Boeser. No changes on defence, and it'll be Demko versus noted pissbaby and lover of getting Michigan'd, Jordan Binnington for the Blues in net tonight. I so wanna see Hoglander try to do it on him to see if his bullshit tough talk is for real. Honestly, I think it would be the best thing in the world if teams tried to do this to him every time they played the Blues, because fuck that guy, man.

GAME DAY CHATTER

GAME DAY BATTLE HYMN

Today in the "Holy shit am I getting old" department, we give you a classic album that was released on this date 40 years ago today. Fresh off their 1983 release 'Screaming For Vengeance' that saw the band break huge in North America, Judas Priest followed it up with an album that doesn't get enough praise in their catalog, IMO. A solid banger from beginning to end that sees both the twin axe attack of Glenn Tipton and KK Downing at their best and Rob Halford cementing his legacy as THE Metal God, we're gonna give you a double shot today, with the two video releases from this album: 'Freewheel Burning' and 'Love Bites'. Happy 40th to 'Defenders Of The Faith' from JUDAS PRIEST.

Enjoy the game tonight, folks! Go Canucks Go!

After some much-needed rest, the Canucks kick off 2024 with a home game against Ottawa before embarking on an epic seven game road jaunt.

FLYERS (18-11-4) at CANUCKS (23-9-3)

ROGERS ARENA, VANCOUVER, BC

7:00 PM PST

SPORTSNET PACIFIC, TSN 5

Well, now that we've gotten the foul taste of the last game out of our collective mouths, and Team Canada is gone early from the World Juniors, we can turn our attention back to Canada's Team: The Vancouver Canucks.

While it seems like the Canucks would be due for an easier schedule than the first half of the season so far, but that's not the case, as tonight's contest kicks off a stretch of 13 games in 26 nights. And while there's some tough games coming up in this stretch, they'd do well to not take their eyes off the Sens. It's an opportunity for two points that could come in handy in what will be a tough month for the Canucks, and a way to regain some momentum after playing just once in more than week.

As far as the Sens go, it's another disappointing season, but with the team going through the growing pains of new ownership, management and coaching all on the fly this season, it's not wholly unexpected. This is still a team with some talent, in spite of their record, and as we've seen from the Canucks so far this year, they cannot take a night off against any team, especially with the Oilers starting to claw their way out of the basement after that horrendous start.

One good thing is that the Canucks have managed to keep their spot atop the Pacific Division standings while the teams chasing them have made up most, if not all of the games in hand the Canucks had on them. One of the big changes from last season has been their play on home ice, and a win tonight will move their home record to 14-4-1. They've been better on the road this year too, and they'll need to be, as they have 6 of those 7 games against non-playoff teams, the only one being a rematch against the first place New York Rangers and a chance for revenge after that bullshit non-call in OT led the Blueshirts to an undeserved win.

LINEUPS

The following lineups were scribbled on the inside of a discarded party hat seen floating down the Fraser River. Or maybe it was nhl dot com.

Senators projected lineup

Brady Tkachuk -- Josh Norris -- Claude Giroux

Vladimir Tarasenko -- Tim Stutzle -- Drake Batherson

Dominik Kubalik -- Ridly Greig -- Parker Kelly

Erik Brannstrom -- Mark Kastelic -- Zack MacEwen

Jake Sanderson -- Artem Zub

Thomas Chabot -- Jacob Bernard-Docker

Jakob Chychrun -- Travis Hamonic

Anton Forsberg

Joonas Korpisalo

Scratched: Angus Crookshank, Jiri Smejkal

Injured: Mathieu Joseph (lower body), Rourke Chartier (concussion)

Canucks projected lineup

Ilya Mikheyev -- Elias Pettersson -- Andrei Kuzmenko

Phillip Di Giuseppe -- J.T. Miller -- Brock Boeser

Dakota Joshua -- Teddy Blueger -- Conor Garland

Nils Aman -- Pius Suter -- Sam Lafferty

Quinn Hughes -- Filip Hronek

Nikita Zadorov -- Tyler Myers

Ian Cole -- Noah Juulsen

Thatcher Demko

Casey DeSmith

Scratched: Mark Friedman, Nils Hoglander

Injured: Carson Soucy (foot), Guillaume Brisebois (concussion)

Rick Tocchet's tough love academy has welcomed Nils Hoglander back to the press box again, showing that on this team, there's no room to rest on your laurels. PDG is back from his exile and will skate on the 2nd line with Miller and Boeser. Carson Soucy will be on the road trip, but he won't be playing tonight. The Canucks D have been playing well, but it will definitely help to get the veteran Soucy back in the lineup.

GAME DAY CHATTER

GAME DAY BATTLE HYMN

We're off to Chile this time and a brand new track from CRITICAL DEFIANCE. It's off their upcoming as yet untitled third album. It follows up on 2022's fantastic release 'No Life Forms', and is a good sign that we'll be getting another solid disc of crossover thrash. Here's 'The Search Won't Fall', and if you dig these guys, definitely head over to their Bandcamp page and check them out.

It's a big night as the Canucks celebrate the greatest goaltender this team has ever had. Roberto Luongo takes his place in the Canucks Ring Of Honour as the Florida Panthers make their annual visit to Rogers Arena.

Vancouver Canucks (19-9-1) vs Florida Panthers (17-9-2)

7:00PM PST

ROGERS ARENA, VANCOUVER, BC

SPORTSNET PACIFIC

Coming off an impressive win over a team that's had the Canucks' number for years in that 4-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning Tuesday night, the Canucks have the other tough opponent from the utter hellhole of a state that is Florida: the Panthers. Their visit and the game itself are almost secondary though, as tonight the Canucks give Roberto Luongo his spot in the team's Ring Of Honour.

I've seen people say that Luongo's place as the greatest goaltender in Canucks history is up for debate. Those people are wrong, and should go sit down and actually watch some of his finest performances. Don't let the ending of the 2011 Cup run taint your memories. Lu was the best and it's not even close. Tonight is not about thinking about losses, letdowns, or the unfortunate way his time in Vancouver came to an end. Tonight is all about remembering a guy who was an absolute superstar, and deserved better than the way it all played out. It's about remembering his unique sense of humour, the intensity he brought in leading this team to one of the best eras we've seen as Canucks fans, and of course, helping Canada win gold on Rogers Arena ice in 2010.

I was fortunate enough to see the man in three of his forty three shutouts, including Games One and Five of the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals. He leads the way in all team goaltending categories, and was a worthy addition to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2022 along with Daniel and Henrik Sedin. While we're pretty fortunate to have a goalie as good as Thatcher Demko right now, he's got a long way to go to live up to the standard set by Lu, the guy who forever changed this franchise's reputation as a goalie graveyard.

As far as the actual game, it'll likely be a lot of what we've seen of late. With the Canucks having won three straight, it's likely that we're not going to see any real drastic changes in the lineup tonight. The one change that will occur is with the return of Pius Suter to the lineup, Nils Aman will be out, and likely head back to Abbotsford soon if he hasn't already.

LINEUPS

We found this potential lineup written on the back of the motorized cart Lu used to try and kill Cory Schneider with in the bowels of Rogers Arena. It may have come from nhl dot com though...

Panthers projected lineup

Evan Rodrigues -- Aleksander Barkov -- Sam Reinhart

Carter Verhaeghe -- Sam Bennett -- Matthew Tkachuk

Nick Cousins -- Eetu Luostarinen -- Ryan Lomberg 

Jonah Gadjovich -- Kevin Stenlund -- Steven Lorentz

Gustav Forsling -- Aaron Ekblad

Niko Mikkola -- Brandon Montour

Oliver Ekman-Larsson -- Dmitry Kulikov

Sergei Bobrovsky

Anthony Stolarz

Scratched: Josh Mahura, Uvis Balinskis

Injured: Anton Lundell (illness)

Canucks projected lineup

Ilya Mikheyev -- Elias Pettersson -- Sam Lafferty

Nils Hoglander -- J.T. Miller -- Brock Boeser

Dakota Joshua -- Teddy Blueger -- Conor Garland

Andrei Kuzmenko -- Pius Suter -- Phillip Di Giuseppe

Quinn Hughes -- Filip Hronek

Nikita Zadorov -- Tyler Myers

Ian Cole -- Noah Juulsen

Thatcher Demko

Casey DeSmith

Scratched: Mark Friedman, Nils Aman

Injured: Carson Soucy (foot), Guillaume Brisebois (concussion)

It's the first game back for Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Jonah Gadjovich, but while this might have been a bigger story a year ago, it's obvious how much better the Canucks are without the guys who were in their lineup last year that have been moved out, and especially when it comes to Ekman-Larsson. Nice guy I'm sure, and he's having a fine season in Florida, but his time in Vancouver will go down in infamy.

No other changes for the Canucks, as they continue to get back to what we saw in October in terms of defensive play. They'll have their hands full tonight with the Panthers, but another solid 60 minute effort should help them through.

GAME DAY CHATTER

GAME DAY BATTLE HYMN

Got a fun one today, as Sweden's hockey loving Viking Metal kings AMON AMARTH posted a new video, with some help from NWOBHM legends SAXON. 'Saxons And Vikings' is cheesy as hell and I love it! Grab a flagon of mead and crank this one!

This is gonna be a great night, and nothing would be better than the Canucks topping off this celebration with another win before heading off on a four game road trip. Enjoy the game, everyone. Thank you, Lu! Go Canucks Go!

Call it regression. Call it exhaustion. Call it whatever you want, but that loss in Calgary wasn't pretty. Pay close attention to how the Canucks respond, as they get ready to do another stupid 5 games in 8 nights run.

Vancouver Canucks (12-3-1) vs Seattle Kraken (6-8-4)

7:00PM PST

ROGERS ARENA, VANCOUVER, BC

CBC, SPORTSNET, CITY

We knew a regulation loss was coming, it just sucks that it had to come against the Flames. They're not that good, and combined with the aforementioned 5th game in 8 nights scenario, and some mind-blowingly bad officiating, and this one was done before puck drop.

Thankfully, they're at home, and have had a day's rest, and this next 5 game set sees them play Seattle and San Jose twice, broken up by a highly anticipated match against another of the best in the west when they travel to Denver to take on the Colorado Avalanche. But let's not get ahead of ourselves here. This is another Western Conference game, and if we're being honest, these are the truly important ones. Ensuring they stay in the top 3 in the Pacific Division and home ice in round one of the playoffs is the goal, and considering how well they've done against Western opponents so far, garnering an impressive 16 of 18 possible points so far. Rattling off four of the next 5 will go a long way to ensuring their post-season drought comes to an end this year.

The anticipated Canucks regression gets a lot of print space right now, but I think more should be said about what's happening just South of Vancouver. After an impressive sophomore season, complete with playoff games and their first ever playoff series win in that seven game series victory over the Colorado Avalanche. The Kraken have struggled so far this season, including losing four straight to start the year. They're gonna need to go on a run in order to make up the ground they've lost, as they're two points out of the last wild card slot at the moment, and they've played more games than any other team in the West. It's not looking good, and it shouldn't be a shock if they can't pull this off.

That's not to suggest that the Canucks should take this, or any game lightly, and one of the more impressive things so far this season is how the Canucks have responded to losses. Take the way they responded in Montreal after a frustrating loss in Toronto the night before. Or the win in Florida after dropping a heart breaker to the Tampa Bay Lightning. This team is mentally stronger than in the past, and that's going to pay dividends as the season wears on.

LINEUPS

Scrawled in spraypaint on an overpass along Highway 1 near Chilliwack was this potential lineup. Or was it nhl dot com?

Kraken projected lineup

Jared McCann -- Matthew Beniers -- Jordan Eberle

Jaden Schwartz -- Alexander Wennberg -- Brandon Tanev

Eeli Tolvanen -- Yanni Gourde -- Oliver Bjorkstrand

Tye Kartye -- Pierre-Edouard Bellemare -- Kailer Yamamoto

Vince Dunn -- Adam Larsson

Jamie Oleksiak -- Will Borgen

Brian Dumoulin -- Justin Schultz

Philipp Grubauer

Joey Daccord

Scratched: Jaycob Megna, Andrew Poturalski

Injured: Andre Burakovsky (upper body)

Canucks projected lineup

Andrei Kuzmenko -- Elias Pettersson -- Ilya Mikheyev

Phillip Di Giuseppe -- J.T. Miller -- Brock Boeser

Dakota Joshua -- Teddy Blueger -- Conor Garland

Nils Hoglander -- Sam Lafferty -- Anthony Beauvillier

Quinn Hughes -- Filip Hronek

Ian Cole -- Noah Juulsen

Akito Hirose -- Tyler Myers

Thatcher Demko

Casey DeSmith

Scratched: Mark Friedman

Injured: Pius Suter (undisclosed), Carson Soucy (foot), Guillaume Brisebois (concussion)

The good news is that Andrei Kuzmenko will return to the lineup tonight. The not so good news? Noah Juulsen still can't seem to play his way to the pressbox. Akito Hirose will draw in with Tyler Myers tonight.

This should be a winnable game for the Canucks, who are going to need to see more 5 on 5 production to bolster a lethal power play. They're also going to need to be better on the PK. They've improved a lot since last season, but it's still not where it needs to be.

GAME DAY CHATTER

This is the Gary Bettman expansion dilemma. It's either a bare minimum against divisional rivals, or not getting to see some of the Eastern teams at all. Personally, I think the NHL has done sweet fuck all to try and build a Vancouver/Seattle rivalry, and I would rather see them play each other four times than against the bloody Oilers or Flames. It's insane that they play those two as well as the Sharks four times, yet their geographically closest opponent will only appear here once this season.

GAME DAY BATTLE HYMN

Emerging from the ashes of Texas thrash kings POWER TRIP after the tragic death of their vocalist Riley Gale, FUGITIVE have come to continue along the path forged by the Dallas crossover bangers. This single is available as a 7" from 20 Buck Spin Records, and we should expect a full length from them next year. This is one of those tunes that really, truly makes me miss the moshpits from back in the day.

Enjoy the game, everyone. Go Canucks Go!

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