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

It's that time of year again, where an entire fan base is forced to consider how things affect the Leafs. It's also Hockey Day in Canada and an anniversary of sorts for Nucks Misconduct.

CANUCKS (30-11-4) at TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS (22-13-8)

ROGERS ARENA, VANCOUVER, BC

4:00 PM PST

SPORTSNET

Truth be told, I'd be totally fine with the Oilers or Flames getting the Saturday game when the Leafs come West. Anyway, there's the prerequisite bitching, because Leafs fans will be scouring for evidence of it. Far be it from us to be less than gracious hosts.

The Canucks returned from that epic seven game road trip and got into a fun one against the Arizona Coyotes on Thursday night. The game had a lot of intensity, and for a first game back, it was a hell of a lot better than we expected. So often that first game at home is a bit of a let down, but the Canucks battled against a solid Arizona squad, addressed some serious bullshit from the Coyotes "tough guy" and came out with another regulation win against a Western Conference opponent.

And in case you missed this yesterday...

And that was for this display of sportsmanship:

Absolute chickenshittery from the NHL's penalty minute leader O'Brien. 5 ungloved punches on a guy who didn't have his hands up over a clean hit? Pure garbage. And for the on ice officials to deem that "roughing", then follow the setup with the punchline of a fine and no suspension for a game who came off the bench, making no effort to get involved in the play, and attack a guy? Just brutal.

Fortunately, sometimes asshats like O'Brien get what's coming to them. I would suggest he re-think going after Nikita Zadorov next time these teams meet, because that was a pretty one-sided tilt.

Anyway, it's on to the second game of this five game homestand, the annual royal visit from the Leafs. Toronto's struggling a bit this season, with goaltending being a constant issue and inconsistent play from guys not named Nylander or Matthews. A team that some had as a genuine contender in the East at the start of the season is battling to stay afloat in the East, with a number of teams nipping at their heels. Pittsburgh is a mere 4 points back of the 3rd place Leafs, but just three out of a wild card spot.

The last time these teams met was one of the very few games this season where the Canucks didn't show up to play, and you can bet that Rick Tocchet is going to be reminding his players of that fact.

Since the 5-2 loss in November, the Canucks have gone 20-8-3, and are an impressive 15-4-1 at home. They've had the upper hand of late against Toronto, winning 6 of the last 10 meetings, and after an emotional win over the Coyotes, expect them to be fired up to keep the Leafs fans in the crowd quiet tonight.

LINEUPS

The following lineup was scrawled on the back of a tractor trailer unit that crashed into an overpass on the TransCanada Highway... or maybe it was nhl dot com.

Maple Leafs projected lineup

Pontus Holmberg -- Auston Matthews -- Mitchell Marner

Tyler Bertuzzi -- John Tavares -- William Nylander

Matthew Knies -- Max Domi -- Calle Jarnkrok

Bobby McMann -- David Kampf -- Noah Gregor

Morgan Rielly -- T.J. Brodie

Simon Benoit -- Jake McCabe

Mark Giordano -- Timothy Liljegren

Martin Jones

Ilya Samsonov

Scratched: Nicholas Robertson, William Lagesson, Conor Timmins

Injured: Ryan Reaves (lower body), Joseph Woll (ankle), John Klingberg (hip)

Canucks projected lineup

Elias Pettersson -- J.T. Miller -- Brock Boeser

Ilya Mikheyev -- Pius Suter -- Andrei Kuzmenko

Dakota Joshua -- Teddy Blueger -- Conor Garland

Nils Hoglander -- Nils Aman -- Sam Lafferty

Quinn Hughes -- Filip Hronek

Carson Soucy -- Tyler Myers

Nikita Zadorov -- Ian Cole

Thatcher Demko

Casey DeSmith

Scratched: Noah Juulsen, Linus Karlsson

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

Probably no changes from Thursday, apart from the possibility that we see Andrei Kuzmenko back in the press box after another disappointing outfit. If he's out, expect Linus Karlsson to be in, and Sam Lafferty get bumped up to his slot.

GAME DAY CHATTER

Another reason for the Canucks' turn around this season? Massively better team on the road than seasons past.

GAME DAY BATTLE HYMN

Prolific Finnish speed merchants NECRO WEASEL are back with a new one, and it absolutely fuckin' rips! From 'A Brave New World', this is 'They Want Us To Suffer'. Check them out on Bandcamp, eh?

Enjoy the game, everyone! Go Leafs Suck! Go Canucks Go!

No Lotto luck, no problem! The Sabres kept the Canucks All Star Game bound trio off the scoreboard, and still lost. Sam Lafferty FTW, bitches! So after a grueling, playoff-style win the Canucks managed to get to Columbus to take on the lowly Blue Jackets in an early game to end this road swing.

CANUCKS (29-11-3) at BUFFALO SABRES (13-21-9)

NATIONWIDE ARENA, COLUMBUS, OH

10:00 AM PST

SPORTSNET PACIFIC

To say this road trip's been a success is a massive understatement. After a frustratingly close loss in St Louis, the Canucks ran roughshod over some of the best in East, each one more impressive than the last, wrapping it up with a gritty 1-0 win in balmy Buffalo Saturday afternoon.

After the loss in St Louis, as we've seen all season from Rick Tocchet and his staff, they set out to make a few tweaks to address what didn't work in the previous game. So after a rare lack of offensive output against the Blues, Tocchet reunited the Lotto Line and they absolutely dominated the Devils, Rangers, Islanders and Penguins. 27 combined points, led by Elias Pettersson who set an NHL record with 4 consecutive game winning goals on the road.

Each game showcased some of the different facets of the Canucks new era, and in a way, the win over Buffalo Saturday was as impressive as the wins over the Rangers and Penguins.

While playoff hockey is but a dream for the Canucks expansion cousins, the game had all the feeling of a meaningful post-season battle. Two goaltenders stopping anything thrown their way. hits that had a little more oompf to them than your usual January afternoon contest, and so much downright feeling and emotion, something we've not seen in years.

And from the way J.T. Miller laid out a tough (but legal) hit, then answered the bell twice for it, to the composure the Canucks showed when the Sabres relentlessly targeted Pettersson and Quinn Hughes while the officials flat out refused to get involved. It would have been easy to give the Sabres what they wanted (and get suckered into even more penalties in the process), but the Canucks stayed composed, killed off the penalties, and got another stellar performance from Thatcher Demko for their 5th straight road win.

And that leads us to today's game. And while common sense tells us this should be an fairly simple two points, given how not so good the Blue Jackets are, and all the injuries to some of their best players they're dealing with, it has all the makings of one of those trap games that we've seen bite the Canucks on the ass over the years.

Fortunately, we've seen few examples of not taking an opponent seriously this season, save for that one loss to the San Jose Sharks. The Canucks taking a night off just isn't really a thing with Rick Tocchet, and that's one of the reasons they're sitting atop the NHL standings at the moment. Would you risk mailing it in with Rick Tocchet watching you?

And it plays right into the Canucks mindset under Tocchet: They haven't won anything yet, so no one should be surprised if they lay a beating on the BJ's on this American holiday Monday. The Canucks are for real, and here's something people need to wrap their heads around: They haven't even played their best hockey this season. There's something happening in Vancouver that no one saw coming, at least not this early, but if you're not on board to just have some fun, and see where this goes, you should be. It's amazing to have not just fun, entertaining hockey to watch again, but a team that doesn't stress us out as we watch talented players wasting years of their prime with no help. There's hope again, and damn is it good to feel this way again.

LINEUPS

Scrawled in nacho cheese sauce along the side of that god-forsaken cannon was this potential lineup. It was also reportedly found on nhl dot com...

Canucks projected lineup

Elias Pettersson -- J.T. Miller -- Brock Boeser

Ilya Mikheyev -- Pius Suter -- Andrei Kuzmenko

Dakota Joshua -- Teddy Blueger -- Conor Garland

Nils Hoglander -- Nils Aman -- Sam Lafferty

Quinn Hughes -- Filip Hronek

Carson Soucy -- Tyler Myers

Nikita Zadorov -- Ian Cole

Thatcher Demko

Casey DeSmith

Scratched: Mark Friedman, Linus Karlsson, Noah Juulsen

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

Blue Jackets projected lineup

Johnny Gaudreau -- Cole Sillinger -- Yegor Chinakhov

Kent Johnson -- Adam Fantilli -- Emil Bemstrom

Dimitri Voronkov -- Jack Roslovic -- Kirill Marchenko

Alexandre Texier -- Sean Kuraly -- Justin Danforth

Damon Severson -- Adam Boqvist

Ivan Provorov -- Andrew Peeke

Jake Bean -- Erik Gudbranson

Elvis Merzlikins

Spencer Martin

Scratched: David Jiricek, Mathieu Olivier, Daniil Tarasov, Brendan Gaunce

Injured: Boone Jenner (jaw), Patrik Laine (clavicle), Nick Blankenburg (upper body), Zach Werenski (ankle)

It would appear that the Jackets aren't going to try and go for the feel-good story and start former Canucks Spencer Martin and Brendan Gaunce. They will have Erik Gudbranson though, so uh, yeah. They will want to make sure that 2nd line with Lower Mainland native Kent Johnson and 2nd overall pick from last year's draft Adam Fantilli don't get the time and space needed to create havoc.

It looked like Casey DeSmith was going to get the start on Saturday, which instead went to Demko as we know. Now they're showing Demko as the starter today so who knows? No other changes as the Canucks look to notch a season high sixth straight win.

GAME DAY CHATTER

These are the kinds of hardships that will make them battle ready for the postseason...

GAME DAY BATTLE HYMN

This past weekend was a massive one for Vancouver metalheads as 3 Inches of Blood reunited to play three sold out shows at the Commodore Ballroom. One of the best metal acts this country's ever produced, and it sucked that I couldn't be there to see them live one last time. Still holding out hope this'll spark the desire for a new album though. There's a full video of night one on youtube, but we'll give you 'Deadly Sinners', a hell of a pump up tune to get you ready for today's game.

Enjoy this daytime hockey if you can, everyone! Go Canucks Go!

The Canucks, with Elias Pettersson leading the way, are on an absolute tear through the Eastern Conference right now, and this afternoon they have a chance to put the cherry on their first ever NY/NJ road sweep with a win over their expansion cousins in Buffalo.

CANUCKS (28-11-3) at BUFFALO SABRES (18-20-4)

KEYBANK CENTER, BUFFALO, NY

1:00 PM PST

SPORTSNET

For the past few seasons, we've been frustrated as writers trying to come up with new and innovative ways to tell you that the Canucks were awful. Now, we're being put to the test trying to wrap our heads around a potential Cup run. It's a good problem to have, but we'll do our best to not get cocky about anything, lest we upset our betters. It's important, as we have been reminded this week, that we as fans know our place and keep our bloody mouths shut.

Heh.

Heading into this road trip, it had all the bearings of a win some/lose some kind of jaunt, especially after the inauspicious start to this seven game road swing in St Louis. Since then, the Canucks, faced with a gauntlet of playoff quality teams have rattled off four straight wins. And each of these wins just absolutely ring like a team making a statement that the era of soft, ineffective hockey is over in Vancouver.

With a management team that has literally done what Jim Benning told us he could do, and failed miserably at, to a coaching staff that has gotten a complete buy-in from the entire room to transform how they play the game, the Vancouver Canucks went from a potential Draft Lottery winner to a potential Stanley Cup threat in a year and a half. You know, just like Jim Rutherford and Patrik Allvin did in Pittsburgh.

It seems like every week there's something that's happening with the Canucks that is making the league take notice, and with the four wins over the last week against some of the best in the East, it's been the play of the reunited Lotto Line, most specifically Elias Pettersson, leading the way.

Over the last month, it was the Canucks bottom 6 forwards leading the way, but on this trip, it's been the team's best players at their absolute best. Pettersson, J.T. Miller and Brock Boeser have terrorized the opposition since being reunited a week ago in New Jersey, combining for 13 goals and 12 assists.

And how about the offensive contributions from the back end on this trip? 3 goals and 12 assists as the Canucks defence, led by Quinn Hughes and Filip Hronek prove the old adage: The best defence is a good offence. It's been production on a scale we haven't seen in a long time in this market, perhaps ever.

This brings them to Buffalo, taking on a Sabres team that find themselves in familiar territory. It seems like every season, they head into October with a roster that on paper should at least have them competitive, and hope that better days lie ahead. And every season, by this time, they find themselves seven points back of a playoff spot, and more likely to have a shot at a top five draft pick next season than hosting a playoff game at KeyBank.

If there's a plan in Buffalo, it's not clear apart from maybe they're playing the long con and they'll surprise everyone next year. But as for this season, this should be, especially the way the Canucks are playing right now, a long afternoon in Buffalo for the hosts. But hey, don't feel bad for them. They've still got the Bills.

LINEUPS

The following lineup was written in wing sauce and scrawled on the underside of a broken table in the parking lot at Highmark Stadium. Or it was nhl dot com, I think...

Canucks projected lineup

Elias Pettersson -- J.T. Miller -- Brock Boeser


Ilya Mikheyev -- Pius Suter -- Andrei Kuzmenko

Dakota Joshua -- Teddy Blueger -- Conor Garland


Nils Hoglander -- Nils Aman -- Sam Lafferty

Quinn Hughes -- Filip Hronek

Carson Soucy -- Tyler Myers


Nikita Zadorov -- Ian Cole

Casey DeSmith


Thatcher Demko

Scratched: Mark Friedman, Linus Karlsson, Noah Juulsen

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

Sabres projected lineup

Casey Mittelstadt -- Tage Thompson -- Alex Tuch


JJ Peterka -- Dylan Cozens -- Jack Quinn


Jordan Greenway -- Peyton Krebs -- Zach Benson


Eric Robinson -- Zemgus Girgensons -- Kyle Okposo

Mattias Samuelsson -- Rasmus Dahlin

Owen Power -- Erik Johnson

Ryan Johnson -- Connor Clifton

Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen

Devon Levi

Scratched: Victor Olofsson, Henri Jokiharju

Injured: Jeff Skinner (upper body)

After a solid performance against the Islanders on Tuesday night, it's nice to see Casey DeSmith rewarded with another start today. Load management, baby! Other than that, it's status quo as the Canucks continue to stay healthy and all that. The Sabres could be without Tage Thompson today, as he's been dealing with an injury and we likely won't know til closer to game time if he's good to go.

GAME DAY CHATTER

Something to keep in mind for today's contest.

Is that good? It seems good, but we wouldn't want to come off sounding cocky...

Can't imagine who that might have been, but my guess is some guy in marketing named Dancesco Squaquilini...

GAME DAY BATTLE HYMN

With 2024 set to see some seriously kickass releases in the metal realm, New Orleans thrashers EXHORDER have thrown down the gauntlet early ahead of their album release in March with 'Year Of The Goat'. The first single off 'Defectum Omnium', due March 8th worldwide on Nuclear Blast Records, this is one of the best tracks they've done since Pantera stole their sound off 'Slaughter In The Vatican' and 'The Law'. Crank this one and enjoy a cold brew before some Saturday afternoon Canucks hockey!

Enjoy the game, everyone! Go Canucks Go!

Coming off a massive win in New Jersey as they continue this tough seven game road trip, the Canucks now face a back to back against the New Yorks, with the Eastern Conference leading Rangers first up. Time for a little payback, perhaps?

CANUCKS (25-11-3) at NEW YORK RANGERS (26-10-2)

MADISON SQUARE GARDENS, NEW YORK, NY

4:00 PM PST

SPORTSNET

Saturday's win in New Jersey was far more than just an important two points for the Vancouver Canucks. Bouncing back from a disappointing loss in St Louis, as well as a massive confidence boost to get their first win in New Jersey since 2013 sets them up rather well for a battle against the Eastern Conference leaders, the New York Rangers.

The Rangers are just a point ahead of the Canucks in the overall standings, and a regulation win will see Vancouver leapfrog them and move into 2nd overall, as well as getting them to within one point of the Western Conference leaders, the Winnipeg Jets.

The last time these teams met was in October, as the tail end of a back to back at home for the Canucks. The game was as billed, two of the NHL's top teams in the standings going toe to toe, and it appeared to be headed for a shootout to decide it when a brutal non-call in OT in the Rangers favour directly led to the OT winner from K'Andre Miller.

That game also featured a moment that will live in Canucks history:

The Canucks have gotten a massive contribution from the rest of their Dcore this season compared to the last few, and they'll likely need it again tonight against the Rangers. And as Jeff Paterson wrote over at Canucks Army, the goalies aren't the only ones who could use a rest. Defensive load management should be something this team is engaging in the rest of the way.

This game is another measuring stick for the Canucks, and having acquitted themselves well in a number of these tests so far this season, we're eager to see how they match up in the last opportunity before they meet for a rematch of the 1994 Finals. Can you imagine? Also, skate jersey full time in the playoffs, please, including a white version. Do it already!

LINEUPS

Written in green ooze on the underside of a manhole cover in the Bronx, was this potential lineup for tonight. Rumour has it, you can also find it on nhl dot com...

Canucks projected lineup

Elias Pettersson -- J.T. Miller -- Brock Boeser

Ilya Mikheyev -- Pius Suter -- Andrei Kuzmenko

Dakota Joshua -- Teddy Blueger -- Conor Garland

Nils Hoglander -- Nils Aman -- Sam Lafferty

Quinn Hughes -- Filip Hronek

Carson Soucy -- Tyler Myers

Nikita Zadorov -- Ian Cole

Thatcher Demko

Casey DeSmith

Scratched: Noah Juulsen, Mark Friedman, Linus Karlsson

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

Rangers projected lineup

Chris Kreider -- Mika Zibanejad -- Blake Wheeler

Artemi Panarin -- Vincent Trocheck -- Alexis Lafreniere

Brennan Othmann -- Nick Bonino -- Jonny Brodzinski

Will Cuylle -- Barclay Goodrow -- Jimmy Vesey

Ryan Lindgren -- Adam Fox

K'Andre Miller -- Jacob Trouba

Erik Gustafsson -- Braden Schneider

Igor Shesterkin

Jonathan Quick 

Scratched: Zac Jones

Injured: Kaapo Kakko (lower body), Filip Chytil (upper body), Tyler Pitlick (lower body)

Nikita Zadorov is back in after missing Saturday, but he'll be going into Juulsen's spot to skate with Ian Cole, and the pairing of Myers and Soucy remains for now. I wouldn't at all be surprised to see some shuffling to address the issues a team like the Rangers can give a team, though.

GAME DAY CHATTER

Well, so much for the load management. Shame, because Juulsen's been steadily improving since he came back from the stretch of 11 straight healthy scratches. I mean, there's not a lot to complain about right now, but he's earned his spot.

What a difference a year makes, eh?

GAME DAY BATTLE HYMN

What am I supposed to do here, not introduce you to a band called NEON CHICKEN? Of course I am, dammit. This Australian one man band released its debut EP last year entitled 'Industrial Slavery' and it's a solid slab of modern thrash with some serious guitar chops. Sure, a lot of these one person projects never add members and play live, but that's no reason to discount them. Silly name aside, this is a promising debut.

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 another Hughes family reunion as Quinn and the Canucks take on brothers Jack and Luke in a battle for Hughes family supremacy. Also, the New Jersey Devils are involved.

Vancouver Canucks (16-8-1) vs New Jersey Devils (11-10-1)

7:00 PM PST

ROGERS ARENA, VANCOUVER, BC

SPORTSNET PACIFIC, MSG NETWORK, NHL NETWORK

Fresh off a big Pacific Division win Saturday night in Calgary, the Canucks are back at it, after a luxurious two day break. A win tonight is vital, in that it will move them to within two points of first place Vegas, and also ensure that the LA Kings stay at least two points behind them.

After struggling through November compared to their torrid start to the season, the Canucks kicked December off on the right foot Saturday night with a 4-3 win over the Flames in Calgary. They're beginning a stretch of five straight at home, beginning with a team that they've been finding hard to handle of late: the New Jersey Devils.

It's the first time that Quinn Hughes will face off against both of his siblings in an NHL game, and while the Canucks will be focused on securing two points, the eyes of hockey fans across North America are definitely trained on tonight's contest. The Devils have won four of the last five meetings between these teams, including both games last year. And while the Canucks have been one of the true surprises of the NHL this season, the Devils have too, only not in a good way. Many had the Devils pencilled in to be Cup contenders in the East, but they've stumbled out of the gate, and find themselves four points out of a wild card slot in the Eastern Conference. They're 4-6-0 in their last ten games, and are hoping this Western road swing will help them get back on track.

And while the Hughes brothers matchup is getting all the press, there's one other factor to tonight's game that shouldn't be overlooked. Travis Green is set for his first appearance behind the visitors bench since he was fired as the Canucks head coach two years ago today. If that's not some sort of universal karma/schedule guy trying to mess with people, I dunno what is.

LINEUPS

We found this potential lineup spray-painted on the side of a transport trailer parked alongside Highway 1 out in the valley, but I am pretty sure they got it from nhl dot com.

Devils projected lineup

Erik Haula -- Jack Hughes -- Tyler Toffoli

Ondrej Palat -- Nico Hischier -- Jesper Bratt

Timo Meier -- Dawson Mercer -- Alexander Holtz

Curtis Lazar -- Michael McLeod -- Nathan Bastian

Jonas Siegenthaler -- Simon Nemec

Kevin Bahl -- John Marino

Colin Miller -- Luke Hughes

Vitek Vanecek

Akira Schmid

Scratched: Chris Tierney

Injured: Tomas Nosek (foot), Dougie Hamilton (torn pectoral muscle)

Suspended: Brendan Smith

Canucks projected lineup

Ilya Mikheyev -- Elias Pettersson -- Sam Lafferty

Andrei Kuzmenko -- J.T. Miller -- Brock Boeser

Dakota Joshua -- Teddy Blueger -- Conor Garland

Nils Hoglander -- Nils Aman -- Linus Karlsson

Quinn Hughes -- Filip Hronek

Ian Cole -- Noah Juulsen

Nikita Zadorov -- Tyler Myers

Thatcher Demko

Casey DeSmith

Scratched: Phillip Di Giuseppe, Mark Friedman

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

No changes for the Canucks, as PDG continues to ride pine in favour of Linus Karlsson, while Sam Lafferty continues his improbable run on the Canucks first line. With every passing game, that signing looks better for Jim Rutherford and Patrik Allvin. While it may not sit well with some, Noah Juulsen is in again in favour of Mark Friedman.

The Devils found out recently that they'll be without Dougie Hamilton long term after he suffered a torn pectoral muscle. It'll be Vitek Vanacek vs Thatcher Demko in the crease tonight.

GAME DAY CHATTER

GAME DAY BATTLE HYMN

While the UK may be the birthplace of heavy metal, it always seemed somewhat lacking when it came to contributions to thrash metal. Apart from bands like Xentrix, Onslaught and Hellbastard, UK thrash acts never really seemed to move the needle. That's all changed over the last decade, with the New Wave Of Thrash Metal. Bands like Evile, SSS, Shrapnel and Pest Control have put out some fantastic stuff, and while the first three may be a little more familiar to metal heads, Pest Control is one you don't wanna sleep on.

Born in Leeds during the lockdown, their debut album 'Don't Test The Pest' is holding up as one of the better thrash discs of 2023. Check out their video for 'Enjoy The Show'!

This one should be fun! Enjoy the game, eh? Go Canucks Go!

Injuries are beginning to mount alongside the losses. The Canucks face more adversity as they start a back to back with an almost 840 mile trip in between.

Vancouver Canucks (13-5-1) vs Seattle Kraken (8-8-5)

CLIMATE PLEDGE ARENA, SEATTLE, WAS

7:00PM PST

SPORTSNET PACIFIC

The underwhelming feeling that followed the loss in Denver on Wednesday night is nothing compared to the oh so familiar feeling of "Dear god, what now?" when it comes to injuries the Canucks have been dealing with over the last few days. With Carson Soucy and Pius Suter now listed on injured reserve, requiring the Canucks to put in a call to Abbotsford for forwards to bolster the beleaguered lineup.

It's not all bad news, thankfully.

It was looking as though they wouldn't have either of them available for tonight's contest, but it's not just the guys who are out that give cause for concern. Whether it's an injury he's playing through or an illness, something is clearly not right with Elias Pettersson for these past few games. He's out there, and sure he's getting points here and there, but he definitely isn't the same EP40 we saw earlier in the campaign.

We could go on about the frustration that was Wednesday's game against the Avalanche (and believe me, there's an f'ing list of shit I could talk about), but much like the team themselves, the focus must stay on the task at hand, and with tonight's contest the first of five straight against Pacific Division opponents, these are must win games if the Canucks want to keep the distance they've built between themselves and their rivals.

A chance for payback is always good, and when you look at that 4-3 loss to the Kraken a few days ago, it's definitely a game where the Canucks deserved a better fate. Bad bounces, a goaltender playing far above his average for the season, and some questionable calls made for a frustrating loss, but that can all be erased tonight with a win. Fatigue will definitely be an issue though, as the Canucks have played a lot of hockey over the past three weeks, and with a jaunt down to San Jose tomorrow night, it's definitely something to keep in mind.

One thing they'll have to do is play smart. Avoiding the penalty box is going to ensure they can roll all four lines and keep the top six from getting burnt out. They have the luxury of a backup goaltender they can rely on, and we'll see Casey DeSmith in the crease for one of these two contests. Finishing the month on a high note as they head to December is important, and with the Vegas Golden Knights and first place in the Pacific still within striking distance, getting on a roll will help that in a big way.

LINEUPS

Canucks projected lineup

Sam Lafferty -- Elias Pettersson -- Ilya Mikheyev

Anthony Beauvillier -- J.T. Miller -- Brock Boeser

Dakota Joshua -- Teddy Blueger -- Conor Garland

Phillip Di Giuseppe -- Nils Aman -- Nils Hoglander

Quinn Hughes -- Filip Hronek

Mark Friedman -- Tyler Myers

Ian Cole -- Cole McWard

Thatcher Demko

Casey DeSmith

Scratched: Andrei Kuzmenko, Akito Hirose

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

Kraken projected lineup

Jared McCann -- Matty 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

Joey Daccord

Chris Driedger

Scratched: Jaycob Megna

Injured: Andre Burakovsky (upper body), Philipp Grubauer (undisclosed)

Well, some might be surprised by this, but if you are, you haven't really been paying attention to how Rick Tocchet runs things, as we'll see a pretty significant lineup shuffle, as well as Andrei Kuzmenko listed as a healthy scratch tonight. We knew there was going to be regression after his incredible debut last season, and if the Canucks had been truly struggling this season, this might have happened sooner. This is clearly an attempt to send a message to both player and team that things cannot rest solely on the shoulders of the stars, so watch for a response both tonight, and tomorrow when Kuzmenko returns to the lineup.

Will these lines hold? Who knows. I'm all here for the team actually trying to address issues instead of just shuffling along when things obviously need a shakeup.

GAME DAY CHATTER

GAME DAY BATTLE HYMN

Some more Japanese metal weirdness for you. With 'Pardon Me, I Have To Go Now', this is HANABIE. You're welcome.

Enjoy the game. Go Canucks Go! Make sure to check out the post game wrap up and then we'll do this all again tomorrow.

COMMENTS

Comment System How-To

New NM, new comment system. Still uses words and stuff. Hover over the icons to see what they do. 

The most vital function is image embedding. Paste the link to the image in the comment box. When the comment is posted, the image appears. Most of  the time. 

NOTE: Remove the non-image name jibberish. If the image link has any stuff after the file extension - usually a ? with directives like: woo.gif?size=480 blah blah - delete up to and including the ? - simples.

GIF it up for Westy! Or still life in rum.
NOTE: Comments refresh every 30 seconds. Not fast enough for most of our lightening round contestants. We are working to increase the refresh speed. Just... not working too hard... because NM labour guidelines. Thanks for being patient!
This is a an alpha site, dreaming of becoming a beta site

Please be patient. We're not all idiots, but we're volunteers... that's close enough.
Report A Bug Here
Get Nucking Twitted or Faked Below
Copyright © 2024 nucksmisconduct.ca - All Rights Reserved