The Canucks kick off a 3 games in 4 nights road trip tonight in Dallas against the Stars, and we're looking closely at this jaunt as an indicator of where the Canucks are, though some seem to have passed judgement after Saturday's game against Tampa, where they lost 4-2. Are the Canucks really not good enough to at least compete, or is it too early to tell? That game on Saturday could turn out to be extremely deceptive in terms of getting a read on where the Canucks are. Eddie Lack was by his own admission, disappointing. He was flat-out amazing in the preseason, but he battled the puck at times. And how many times do we see the top line of the Canucks (regardless of who's with Daniel & Henrik) cough up the puck and it ends up in the back of the net? As Nick pointed out in his post Sunday, the Canucks play wasn't horrible, and they certainly gave Tampa a game. Spotting 2 goals to the guy who is probably the best pure goal scorer in the NHL would be tough for any team to overcome. The top line and top defence pairing for the Canucks struggled, the goaltending wasn't where it needed to be. There's nothing yet to suggest that this is what to expect from the Canucks this season, simply because it hasn't had the chance to manifest itself yet. In this season of change, one should learn to stay focused on the big picture and that this is a team going through a metamorphosis. Coughing once doesn't mean you have a cold, let alone the plague.
So keep that in mind as the Canucks take on a very good Dallas team that seems to be struggling with consistency at home where they haven't recorded a win in two previous attempts. That's not to suggest this game's easy by any stretch, and given last year's results against Dallas, they're going to need to be at their best against this Stars team that went into Columbus and Pittsburgh and rattled off a couple wins before a 6-5 OT loss to the Flyers. Tyler Seguin's been pretty damn amazing and was named NHL 1st star of the week for his efforts. Jamie Benn has started the season a little slowly, though he has picked it up a bit (as my hockey pool can attest), but overall this is a club with a ton of offensive weapons, solid defence and good goaltending. The Canucks can ill afford to give the puck up to guys like Seguin, Benn & Jason Spezza the way they did to Stamkos the other night. In a lot of ways, the Stars and Canucks look pretty similar right now: First line is providing the bulk of the offence, they're getting good goaltending from their #1's, and they've got some injuries on the back end.
Here's the lines for the Stars from their morning skate:
Dallas lines at morning skate: Benn-Spezza-Seguin; Roussel-Eakin-Garbutt; McKenzie-Fiddler-Hemsky; Cole-Horcoff-Sceviour #Canucks— Brad Ziemer (@BradZiemer) October 21, 2014
Stars D pairings: Goligoski-Daley; Oleksiak-Connauton; Benn-Dillon. #canucks— Brad Ziemer (@BradZiemer) October 21, 2014
This is a big game for coach Willie Desjardins, and you know he'd love to have the boys come out with 2 points against the organization that used to employ him, and the Stars lineup has a number of players that he was coaching during his time with the Texas Stars in the AHL. This game's gonna come down to who can get more out of their bottom 9 forwards, and seems tailor made for an appearance from the Zack Kassian we like, and really don't see enough of. The Stars have also found 3rd periods to be a struggle, giving up either the tying or go-ahead goal in the final frame in each of their 3 losses so far. Keeping it close could help the Canucks steal two points tonight.
There's some changes in the bottom 6 tonight for the Canucks. Shawn Matthias is bumped to the 3rd line wing from 4th line center, where saying he's been underwhelming is well, understating it. That means Linden Vey is in the middle on line 4. Yannick Weber is in the lineup again tonight, as Ryan Stanton did not travel with the team to Dallas, though that could change before the end of the road trip. Ryan Miller gets the nod tonight for the Canucks, while Kari Lehtonen, who was brilliant last season in three wins over Vancouver, will start for Dallas.
GAME DAY BATTLE HYMN
Cavalera Conspiracy are preparing to unleash album #3 on us soon with a new label and the same unbridled aggression that brought Sepultura to world-wide prominence from their humble beginnings in Belo Horizante, Brazil. Max and Igor seem to have crafted (if this song is any indication) an album that recalls Nailbomb, the one off side project of Max and Fudge Tunnel mainman Alex Newport. Aggressive thrash with some nice industrial underpinnings. The closest we'll likely ever get to an actual Sepultura reunion, and that's not so bad.
Finally, if you're making Ebola jokes concerning the Canucks being in Dallas today, damn right I'm judging you...