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Opportunity Does Not Knock, It Presents Itself When You Beat Down The Door: Nucks @ Bolts

We're officially entering the back half of the season. Will the real Vancouver Canucks please stand up?

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Check out this nonsense. 31.4%! San Jose sits north of 50% but are two points behind Vancouver (with three more games in hand sure but those are obviously L's) and can barely skate correctly through the shark mouth at the start of their home games.

Vancouver's chances of winning the Presidents' Trophy = 0%. Chances of winning the Cup = 0.2%. The guys across the ice tonight have a 1.2% chance of winning the Cup and aren't even in the wild card. #logically

All of which is to say: it's a bit early to say anything about who is going where in the playoffs when it's friggin' January. Well except for Columbus. You can toss them and Torts out the door.

But tonight is a game Vancouver needs to win and, with luck, they're starting to hit a stride to build on. The Canucks have picked up five wins in their last eight - including three during their current homestand - and if Bo Horvat's play against Carolina is any indication, the goals may start coming from folks other than the first line genetic abnormalities. Markstrom's glovehand aside, he's been reliable in relief of Ryan Miller who returns to back-up status tonight.

Tampa has lost three of their last four before rallying and stealing a win against whatever qualifies as an Edmonton Oiler last night so they're catching them tired to boot (though, really, has that ever worked in Vancouver's favor?). Both Stamkos and Hedman are off their torrid paces from their Cup run last year, but along with Kucherov remain the threats to ruin the evening. Tampa have equally obvious scoring problems just like Vancouver. Ditto the PK. Bishop is legit as ever but has surrendered at least two goals in his last eight starts. Nothing is a given in this league, but Vancouver has put themselves in this hole so it's time to dig out.

After tonight and entertaining Sir Luongo's powerhouse on Monday, Vancouver heads out on a six game road trip which includes battles against the league-leading Capitals, Nicklas Jensen-led Rangers and the (*spits*) Bruins. If the kids are going to string together a few solid wins and get in the winning rhythm necessary for a playoff push, now is an ideal time.

Human Guinea Pig Formations

Daniel Sedin - Henrik Sedin - Alexandre Burrows

Sven Baertschi - Bo Horvat - Radim Vrbata

Chris Higgins - Adam Cracknell - Jake Virtanen

Brandon Prust - Linden Vey - Derek Dorsett

Alexander Edler - Chris Tanev

Matt Bartkowski - Alex Biega

Ben Hutton - Yannick Weber

Jacob Markstrom

Vladislav Namestnikov - Valtteri Filppula - Steven Stamkos

Ondrej Palat - Tyler Johnson - Nikita Kucherov

Alex Killorn - Cedric Paquette - Ryan Callahan

J.T. Brown - Brian Boyle - Erik Condra

Victor Hedman - Anton Stralman

Nikita Nesterov - Braydon Coburn

Jason Garrison - Andrej Sustr

Ben Bishop

Fearless Prediction

Easy pick would be Vancouver doesn't have to swallow 10 PK's in an entire game while the whistles get swallowed during Tampa possessions. So instead let's say they have to choke down 15 PK's because you're not allowed to have nice things and adversity breeds character.

And of course they win: Virts gets an assist, Dorsett (haha) gets a goal and Dank gets the winner. And for good measure Marky gets the shutout. Did I just jinx him?