So, let's start off with a few things you're just going to have to accept heading into tonight's contest:
1- They're gonna talk positively about the Leafs, but negatively about the Canucks. And with good reason: The Leafs have won two straight, they've been close in the games that they've lost, and they've scored almost twice as many goals as the Canucks to date. There are genuine reasons for optimism in Hogtown, so complaining about bias is pointless (much like everyone on the Canucks roster of late).
2- There's gonna be a ton of focus on Auston Matthews and William Nylander. Again, nothing for you to genuinely complain about here. The 1st overall pick is gonna be the focus no matter where you face them, and Nylander, well... Let's just hope he doesn't light the Canucks up tonight, because the 'I told you so's' are gonna be unbearable.
3- There's gonna be criticism of Canucks players including the Sedins that will bring up the 'T' word. What are you supposed to do here, really? The Hot Stove has always been about rumblings, rumours and opinion. Just because we may not like what we hear, doesn't mean it's not correct. And remember, things are nowhere near disastrous enough for the Canucks to even ponder asking Daniel and Henrik to waive their NTC's, nor is there a team out there that could make a deal work for them.
Just take some deep breaths, ensure you have an appropriate food to alcohol ratio and thank the hockey gods that Damian Cox is no longer a part of hockey on television in Canada.
|Lost 6||Streak||Won 2
||Goals For Per 60 (GF60)
||Goals Against Per 60 (GA60)
|8.6 (30)||Power Play %||24.1 (7)|
|85.7 (8)||Penalty Kill %||82.3 (13)|
|50.1 (14)||Faceoff Win %||49.4 (17)|
||Shooting %||8.3 (23)|
||Corsi For %||50.2 (13)
Stats from NHL.com and www.hockey-reference.com
It was a shaky start for the Leafs, as their goaltending wasn't giving them the chance to win, thus ruining things like Matthew's stellar 4 goal performance on opening night. They're much like the Oilers in this respect: some serious young firepower up front, but the back end is a disaster. Fortunately for the Leafs, Frederik Andersen has been strong in his last couple outings, and that's huge if the Leafs hope to stay competitive in the Atlantic Division. They're in 7th place but just 3 back of the 2nd place Ottawa Senators. Rattling off a few wins here is going to make them a legit contender for a wild card spot come April.
Obviously much of the focus is going to be on Matthews, Nylander, Mitch Marner and some of the other young Leafs, but the guy you want to focus on tonight is Nazem Kadri. He had a monster game against the Oilers the other night, including that ridiculous OT goal where he held off the check of Connor McDavid to score on the rush. Oilers fans screamed for some sort of a penalty, but that's just a prototypical power forward kind of goal, the kind we used to see from guys like Todd Bertuzzi. He may not be the same size as Big Bert, but he's definitely playing like it this season.
I have to be honest: I am running out of ways to try and explain just how bad this team is right now and not sound like a broken record. It's pretty demoralizing, whether you're a glass half full or half empty person, because even if you want to see this team get a high draft pick again this upcoming summer, no one likes to have their team sitting through this type of a run.
I would like to tell you that there are signs that the Canucks are getting better and this streak is bound to be snapped. You can look at the shot attempts and say that the Canucks are simply unlucky, and while it's pretty likely that they won't continue along with a shooting percentage this low (and it's at historically bad levels right now), the sad truth is that this is more than likely score effects: the Canucks pushing to try and tie games and teams sitting on the leads they are all getting against this team.
Pretty bleak, huh? There are some bright spots, though. Nikita Tryamkin was pretty decent in his first game Thursday night in Ottawa, and he's not going to be saddled with Luca Sbisa again as Willie's announced he'll be partnered up with Troy Stecher, who was recalled from Utica yesterday. This pairing could be just what the Canucks need to create some scoring chances tonight. The bad news is, they're without Alexander Edler and Christopher Tanev. Yeah, that's right. The top 2 defensemen are out of the lineup on a team that's desperate to snap a 7 game losing streak (counting the SO loss to LA). That doesn't bode well.
Ryan Miller will get the start tonight, and hopefully he can withstand the storm and keep them in it. Miller and Jacob Markstrom have both been solid, one of the only reasons that they even have the 4 wins they garnered at the start of the season.
There's a little poll down below I want you to check out and see how you feel about what the Canucks should do if they can't score again tonight.
GAME DAY BATTLE HYMN
The title track from Sepultura's 4th album, Arise seemed like a good one to go with today, but I had some trouble figuring out which cover to play you here. There's the version from Belguim deathgrinders ABORTED, or we could have given you HAVOK's version that came out on their Point Of No Return ep a couple years back. I settled on this version by Sweden's THE CROWN. It has a neat little sample of an interview from Max Cavalera at the beginning (along with the intro from Dead Embryonic Cells). It's rough, raw as fuck and does a great job of capturing the fury of Sepultura back then.