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GAME PREVIEW: Vancouver Canucks @ Detroit Red Wings - Oct. 22/17

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Canucks look to carry momentum into tilt versus Red Wings

NHL: Detroit Red Wings at Vancouver Canucks
Red Wings’ Justin Abdelkader and Canucks’ Ryan Miller
Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

Vancouver Canucks vs Detroit Red Wings

4:00 PST, Little Caesar’s Arena, Detroit, MI

TV: SN 360 Radio: SN 650

The Canucks rebounded nicely Friday evening with a 4-2 win over the admittedly-unimpressive Buffalo Sabres, and played dominantly in the process. While the Sabres did their best to make it as easy as possible on the Canucks, they did take advantage.

Despite an early stinker from Jacob Markstrom, he bounced back and played solidly, and looks to be the likely starter today against Detroit. Jake Virtanen looked solid with the Sedins. Derek Dorsett advanced his Art Ross bid. Markus Granlund finally got on the board, with two points on the night. It was a good night for the Canucks.

They’ll need a similar effort against the Red Wings who, while not world beaters, are notably better than the Sabres.

The Canucks will get Erik Gudbranson back, which will undoubtedly shift the defense pairings once again. It means Alex Biega will head back to the press box, while Patrick Wiercioch has been sent back down to Utica after one game in the press box.

The power play still didn’t score against the Sabres, to absolutely nobody’s surprise. At this rate I’ll be satisfied if they get one more by the end of the road trip, and that is surely no guarantee. They did score shorthanded though, so it may be to their advantage to take more penalties, in which case the addition of Gudbranson will help their cause.

The Opposition

The big news in Red Wings world is of course the signing of Andreas Athanasiou, as well as the trading of Riley Sheahan to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

For Canucks fans, this may not be of great interest, but for supporters of the Red Wings, it is likely a relief to be done with the Athanasiou saga.

As for the whole team, they may be exceeding expectations, but are still a mediocre 4-3-1. Sounds like another team we may have heard of.

The big surprise in Detroit has been defender Mike Green, who leads the team with an impressive ten points in eight contests. Are we seeing the revival of Green as a powerhouse offensive blue liner? Probably not, but it’s an extraordinary start nonetheless. Captain Henrik Zetterberg has also impressed with nine points in eight games, and Dylan Larkin has bounced back nicely with seven in eight. Watch out for Anthony Mantha as well, who boasts a solid five in eight.

The goaltending has been split, with Jimmy Howard putting up a .923 save percentage, with Petr Mrazek sitting at a much less impressive .901.

The Canucks

Travis Green has yet to settle on firm line combinations, and that looks to continue here against the Red Wings.

The Bo Horvat line with Brock Boeser and Sven Baertschi played well against Buffalo, but didn’t put up a bottom line offensively. Will we see the return of Boeser-Burmistrov-Baertschi? It’s a possibility. As a side note, it was Burmistrov’s 26th birthday yesterday - happy birthday Alexander!

The Sedins with Virtanen was good. In fact, Virtanen was probably their most effective linemate all season. It probably means their icetime is limited, but that’s fine if they’re making the most of it. He might be the closest thing the team has to a Burrows-esque winger.

The “shutdown” line of Markus Granlund-Brandon Sutter-Derek Dorsett looked brutal on the Sabres’ first goal from Justin Bailey, but also managed three of the four goals on the night. Are they now the team’s premier offensive line as opposed to the defensive specialists? That’s what the numbers say. For now, at least, though maybe don’t bank on that continuing.

The power play will need to look better, because they’ve been doing a lot of nothing lately. Ideally, the team would stop putting Boeser in the slot, and allow him to shoot away from the ‘Ovi’ spot at the hashmarks. Derrick Pouliot should also be a top unit guy. His vision is top-notch, and he looks like he could quarterback a unit if given the chance. Green also needs to find a use for Sam Gagner. I don’t know where they should use him, but I’m pretty confident the point is not the solution.

Game Day Battle Hymn

After a season destroyed by injury, and an off-season filled to the brim with signing veteran forwards, Derek Dorsett fell off most people’s radar. This was only further emphasized by a pre-season in which he failed to make any significant impact.

However, after seven games, he leads the team in goals and points, and is arguably the only forward who plays physically with regularity. He’s proven most - including myself wrong - and that deserves to be recognized. Indeed, he has certainly put himself back on the map. For everyone’s sake, let’s hope he stays there.