4:30 p.m. PST - Canadian Tire Centre, Kanata, Ontario
TV: Sportsnet Vancouver Hockey, Radio: SN 650
That home stand didn’t go as planned for Travis Green and company.
It all started off so promising. The Vancouver Canucks played arguably one of their most entertaining games in what felt like years against the Edmonton Oilers. They were fast, aggressive, and they neutralized one of the best players in the game.
Then, reality kicked in.
After opening night, the Canucks suffered three straight losses, including their worst showing of the season against the Calgary Flames.
When the Canucks hit the road for the first time last season, it brought on the beginning of a nine-game losing streak.
That can’t possibly happen again, can it?
The Ottawa Senators were a popular pick for regression this year. Couple that with the early absence of Erik Karlsson, and the Senators were a sexy pick for a sloppy start.
Of course, the exact opposite has happened.
Their last two games were phenomenal. They beat the Flames and the Oilers by a combined score of 12-1. Both Craig Anderson and Mike Condon have given the Senators a chance to win in every game this season.
Guy Boucher has employed the exact same style that almost propelled the Senators to the Stanley Cup Finals last season. Still, missing Karlsson has hurt. The Senators have been bleeding scoring chances with the worst scoring-chance differential in the NHL. They also have the league’s best shooting percentage.
Something’s gotta give, but will it give against the offensively woeful Canucks?
After three straight losses, it looks like Green is tossing his lines into a blender heading into the nation’s capital.
Markus Granlund is finally getting back on the Sedins line, where he probably should have started the season. The Thomas Vanek experiment on that line was a bad idea from the beginning. Their underlying numbers as a line weren’t bad, but the eye test shows that their line was way too slow against quicker teams.
Green is also breaking up Sven Baertschi and Bo Horvat. The line hasn’t produced much at even-strength, and together they are still giving up too many chances in their own zone.
Horvat now gets the ultra-fun assignment of elevating free-agent wingers Vanek and Sam Gagner. Baertschi ends up on the third line with Alex Burmistrov and Brock Boeser, while Jake Virtanen gets back into the lineup on the fourth line with Brandon Sutter and Derek Dorsett.
There might be another debut on Tuesday night.
Unconfirmed, but looks like Nilsson will get his first start for the Canucks tonight. Markstrom only goalie at optional morning skate.— Corey Hirsch (@CoreyHirsch) October 17, 2017
Jacob Markstrom has been up and down, but now is the time to see if he can handle being a starter. Still, Green is in it to win it, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see him go with Nilsson after Markstrom let in some soft goals during the homestand.
Game Day Battle Hymn
In 2008, Erik Karlsson was drafted by the Ottawa Senators at 15th overall. In the same year, Swedish metal band In Flames released their ninth studio album “A Sense of Purpose.”
Some in the hockey community were angered about the Karlsson pick. Now, everyone is just delighted to watch one of the best defencemen in the world hit the ice.
The question is, will Canucks fans be delighted or angered if Karlsson puts on a show tonight?