4:00 p.m. PST, TD Garden, Boston, MA
TV: Sportsnet 360, Radio: SN 650
Brock Boeser isn’t doing much to calm down the Calder hype.
After sitting as a healthy scratch in the first two games, Boeser has come as advertised with four points in his first three games.
That point total leads the offensively inept Canucks.
It’s clear that Boeser is this Canucks best hope at providing some offence. Players such as Bo Horvat and Markus Granlund are due for some more offence, and the Sedins are also bound to find the twine more than they have early on.
But let’s be clear, Boeser is the Canucks best offensive weapon at the moment.
He looks to stay hot against the Bruins who have their own super rookie with Charlie McAvoy. The American blueliner debuted for the Bruins in the playoffs last year, and just like Boeser, he’s continued his impressive play early in 2017-18 with four points in five games.
The Canucks old friends from Massachusetts are a vulnerable team at the moment.
David Backes should draw into the lineup for his first game of the season tonight, but the Bruins have still been hit by some major injuries early on.
Patrice Bergeron is questionable for tonight’s matchup, but since he hasn’t taken any contact in practice yet, he’s doubtful to play. Tuukka Rask took a little too much contact in practice on Wednesday, and he was bowled over by forward Anders Bjork. Rask was apparently looking woozy and had to leave practice.
Because of that, the Bruins will turn to backup Anton Khudobin tonight. The Bruins have also recalled Zane McIntyre.
Tuukka Rask down at Bruins practice? Don't worry, guys. pic.twitter.com/CrZ3jMXrCy— scared spooky guy (@DreamofJanney) October 18, 2017
This puts the Canucks in a winnable position tonight, but it’s not like Boston is a completely beatable team.
Everyone’s favourite player Brad Marchand has picked up where he left off last year with six points in his first five games. David Pastrnak also has three goals in five games.
Another rookie to watch in this matchup will be youngster Jake DeBrusk. He’s off to a good start in his NHL career with four points in five games.
This chart pokes holes in Travis Green’s intention to play “uptempo” hockey.
The Vancouver Canucks are out there definitely playing some hockey that's for sure pic.twitter.com/IhgtzE3dbZ— Dimitri Filipovic (@DimFilipovic) October 19, 2017
Despite Green’s best intentions, teams that lack talent like the Canucks have to play some form of low-event hockey. This isn’t going to be a team that peppers goalies with 40 shots per game on a regular basis.
If the intention is to win games, being solid defensively is going to be vital for the Canucks moving forward. They’ve had their ups and downs so far this season, but the last 40 minutes against the Ottawa Senators was promising.
After hanging Anders Nilsson out to dry in the first period, the team tightened up and didn’t sit back on their lead in the last two periods.
Nilsson was a big part of that win, and Green is going back to him tonight after he posted his a shutout in his first start as a Canuck.
I wonder how Jacob Markstrom feels about that...
Game Day Battle Hymn
On Tuesday night, one of the most iconic musicians in Canadian history passed away.
We heard the news about Gord Downie’s terminal brain cancer last year, but somehow it never really feel like he was actually leaving us behind.
That was until the news hit last night, and Canada went into mourning.
Downie and The Hip went on one last tour around Canada last summer, singing into the hearts of Canadians across the country. Even after their tour finished, Downie still kept busy.
In October, 2016, Downie released a solo album called Secret Path, accompanied with a graphic novel. He also worked on a solo-double album called Introduce Yerself, which is slated for release later this month. He said that he wanted to follow his passion for music leading right up until his passing, and he came through on that promise.
Downie has also been involved in many social issues and environmental causes. Shortly after The Tragically Hip’s farewell tour, Downie and his brother introduced The Gord Downie and Chanie Wenjack Fund to support reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples. The band was also appointed as members to the Order of Canada for their music and social issues work.
Whether you were a fan or not, Downie and The Hip will always be Canadian treasures.
Of course, the Canucks are facing off against Downie’s favourite team, the Bruins. Although the game is played down south, you would hope the Bruins give some kind of tribute to Downie.
For the game day battle hymn, I’m shying away from the Bruins-specific songs (this is a Canucks battle hymn, after all). The battle hymn today encompasses the Hip’s ability to rock with some of that goosebump-enducing, raw emotion in Downie’s vocals. It is one of the most popular Hip songs of all-time, but it remains one of my favourites.
Enjoy the game, folks.