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GAME DAY PREVIEW: Canucks vs Capitals

Worst case scenario? Pretty damn close. So what have we learned about the Canucks this season? Or maybe we should learn about what have we learned about the fans and the media so far?

We hardly knew ye, Welshy
We hardly knew ye, Welshy
Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Spor

Time Sunday, 6:30 PST
TV Sportsnet Vancouver
Season Series 0-0
Last Meeting
4-3 Capitals Mar 14/14
The Enemy Japer's Rink Scoring Leaders D. Sedin: 2-8-10
N. Backstrom 2-5-7
Canucks
CATEGORY
Capitals
4-3 SEASON RECORD 4-1-2
8 Points 10
9th Conference Position 4th
Lost 1
Streak Won 1
3.14 (8)
Goals For Per 60 (GF60)
3.14 (7)
3.43 (26)
Goals Against Per 60 (GA60)
1.86 (4)
17.9 (18) Power Play % 28.0 (3)
83.9 (12) Penalty Kill % 84.0 (11)
45.2 (29) Faceoff Win % 49.2 (19)
14.0 (27) PIM / GP 10.7 (14)
50.3 (11) Corsi For % 54.4 (5)
97.6 (26) PDO 102.0 (5)

As I said from the start of the season, this Vancouver Canucks team is one that simply cannot take a night off. They're going to have to be the best team on the ice, as they simply don't have the talent to rattle off the kind of wins the Canucks teams of a couple years ago could. And the brain trust of the organization have tried to tell people that there's a retooling underway, that they're trying to change things to get them back to the way they were. The impatience level being shown by fans and media alike right now is hardly a shock. You simply cannot view this team in the same mindset as we have in the past. Maybe we got a lil spoiled with a team that had a few good years, where they had a chance. Those days are gone now, and you need to start thinking about this team in a whole new way, or at least a way that as long term fans, we're a little more used to.

So what does that mean? Well, for starters it could mean cutting them a little bit of slack for a loss like the one we saw on Friday night. Denver's never the most hospitable of places for a road team to play, but when you're on your 3rd in 4 nights, running out of steam and looking like you can't handle the Avalanche's speed (especially as they've had a couple days rest) would seem like something logical to assume as the outcome.

That's not to say all is rosy right now, so please don't misconstrue what I am trying to say. All I ask is for some clear-headed thinking when assessing the team. Jason Botchford has a great article about how, while there's some issues of concern, overall these kinds of losses happen to all teams (with great references to a couple stinkers the team laid in the same season they went to the finals). It's October. They're making changes on the fly, and a whole new group of people are in control of the team and trying to repair a team that was so broken when they received it. If you're expecting the status quo from the Canucks in this situation, they're not the ones setting you up for disappointment: you are.

Now that the soap box has been used, it's time to focus on tonight's opponents. Which Washington Capitals team are we going to see tonight? The ones that lost in Edmonton against the Oilers, or the ones who've lost just once in regulation and gritted out a 3-1 win in Calgary last night on the strength of 2 goals from Joel Ward? The Caps too are in 'change' mode with new coach Barry Trotz, and so far it's looking good. Despite the 'Ovechkin is uncoachable' histrionics from Glen Healy the other night, Alex Ovechkin seems to be adapting well to his new bench boss thus far, though he's yet to score since he notched his 5th of the season 34 seconds in to a 6-2 win over the Devils 10 days ago. Mike Green is playing some pretty good hockey right now, and Ward is 2nd on the team with 4 goals, but his 36.4 shooting percentage suggests that miiiight not be sustainable. There are some weak teams in the East, but this ain't one of them.

The Caps are playing their first back to back of the season, and could be starting backup goaltender Justin Peters tonight. While that could be a bright spot for the Canucks, they'll need to focus on the defensive aspects of the game to try and get things back on track tonight. Shot suppression and staying out of the penalty box are two ways the Canucks can get out of the rut they're in right now. While (and stop me if you've heard this one) Eddie Lack was far from his best the other night, the problem wasn't so much with his performance as it was with being hung out to dry by the team defensively. The bottom pairing depth isn't just the problem we feared it would it be. All 6 Dmen on the ice simply must play better, especially against a team with the kind of offensive weapons the Caps possess.  The bottom 6 forwards need to be better and start contributing more, as you know Trotz will be crafting some defensive schemes to keep the Canucks top lines bottled up. Once again, a game tailor made for an appearance from Zack Kassian, but this would require him to do more than go for a skate a few times a night and take penalties.

Ryan Miller should get the start tonight for the Canucks, and he looked damn good the other night against St. Louis, didn't he? Another strong performance will go a long way to building confidence for him and the team, but both guys in the crease need more support from the back end. This is definitely not the kind of defence we're used to having: they're older, slower and with Luca Sbisa in there instead of Jason Garrison, they're definitely not better. Garrison could be frustrating, but right now I'd even take Keith Ballard back there. With Miller playing well, the Canucks just need to get Lack back on track for his performances and they should be able to remain competitive. They also might wanna not look at what's going on in Utica...


PREGAME BATTLE HYMN

In honour of the passing of Jack Bruce, bassist for the legendary 60's band Cream, here's Fudge Tunnel stripping down the band's most famous hit 'Sunshine Of Your Love' off 'Hate Songs In E Minor'. Simply put, heavy metal is not the same without the contributions of Bruce, Ginger Baker and Eric Clapton.

SNACK OF THE GAME

Just stop...

Seriously. This needs to stop. It's freakin' cinnamon and nutmeg! That's all!

Impromptu Drinking Games Rules

tumblr_l9vk0sTzfh1qc073co1_400.0.gif

- 1 Drink: Reference to Alex Ovechkin's laces.

- 1 Drink: Sportsnet panel infers Ovechkin is 'difficult' in some way'

- 2 Drinks: John Garrett discusses pumpkin pie spice and/or Halloween candy.

- 2 Drinks: Two words: Goalie Controversy

- 3 Drinks: References to the Canucks needing Ryan Stanton back in the lineup.

- 3 Drinks: 4th line penalty that isn't stupid.

Parting thoughts from Sterling Archer

Sterling Archer: [while carrying a box of donuts] Lana! Hey, I know I'm supposed to be up my own ass right now but...
Agent Lana Kane: [She knocks the donuts out of his hands, all of which fall to the ground] Hmmph.
Sterling Archer: Oh, is that what you want?
Agent Lana Kane: Yup...
Sterling Archer: Because that's how you get ants.
Agent Lana Kane: [sarcastically] Yay!

SCORE PREDICTION WIZARD DOUBLE SUPER BONUS UPDATE

SPW

So no one got the score or GWG last time (big shock, right?). Here's your standings:

Jes Golbez 4

Nathaniel Perlow 4
australiannuck 3
canuck94 3
Westy99 3
Kiwinuck 3

cyr 3
brianadams 2
Tengeresz 2
Vancouverguy 2

Seedvt 2

jluglue 2

Geordie Nuck 2

andrew21nz 2
GreenBike14 1
BigPDog 1
Twitchy2010 1
Brobidus 1
Passive Voice 1
pheenster 1
Bobby Canuck 1
Canuck89 1
AtillaS 1
spinwezel 1
Frank In Wa 1
mattpisko 1
Coach Ryan 1
prairienucker 1

MightymikeD 1
itsahardknocklife1

nucksandpucks 1

Azzy Mahmood 1