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GAME DAY PREVIEW: Vancouver Canucks @ Pittsburgh Penguins - Nov. 22/17

It’s Brock Boeser versus the flightless birds.

NHL: Pittsburgh Penguins at Vancouver Canucks
Nov 4, 2017; Vancouver, British Columbia, CAN; Vancouver Canucks forward Brock Boeser (6) reacts after scoring against Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Matt Murray (30) during the third period at Rogers Arena.
Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

Vancouver Canucks @ Pittsburgh Penguins

4:00 p.m. PST, PPG Paints Arena, Pittsburgh, PA

TV: Sportsnet Pacific, Radio: SN 650

We are witnessing something in Vancouver that hasn’t been seen for more than a decade.

We’re watching a pure sniper blossom into an NHL star right before our eyes.

You could argue that Boeser is doing something that’s never been done in Vancouver before. Some of the best Canucks in history have blossomed in Vancouver as rookies, but many none as spectacularly as Boeser.

The 20-goal, 40-point mark would have been a successful rookie season for Boeser. Those tempered expectations look silly at this point.

Boeser is on pace to break the rookie scoring records set by Ivan Hlinka and Pavel Bure, who had 60 points in their first seasons as Canucks.

For the record, Boeser is on pace for 80+ points.

‘The Flow’ and the Canucks now travel to Pittsburgh. A game on the second night of back-to-backs against the defending Cup champs may sound daunting, but this is a Penguins team that isn’t firing on all cylinders.

Oh, and some guy named Boeser already has a hat trick against them this season.

The Opponent

If we’re being fair, neither the Canucks or the Penguins have flourished in their last ten games. The Penguins have a 4-4-2 mark in their last ten, playing in a boatload of close games.

The Penguins certainly aren’t blowing the doors off of any of their oppositions this season. Only three of their 11 wins have been more by one goal. One of those multi-goal wins included an empty net goal against the Senators, another was a 3-1 win against the lowly Arizona Coyotes.

Their other win that was more than one goal was during their first win of the season against the Nashville Predators. Since they, they haven’t been dominating the way that a Stanley Cup favourite should.

It’s probable that the Penguins are lacking motivation in the early going of the season after going to two straight Stanley Cup finals. They have enough talent to get to the playoffs, even if Sidney Crosby isn’t dominating like he usually does.

A lot of the Penguins stats don’t look good due to three huge blowout losses, and that includes their star players. Crosby and Kris Letang have goal differentials of 27.59% and 28.95% at even-strength respectively. Those totals are worst on the team and both rank in the bottom-30 of the league, according to Natural Stat Trick.

The Penguins are also missing Evgeni Malkin tonight, so Jake Guentzel slides in as the second-line centre. One thing going in the Penguins favour? They’re playing on three days rest, after losing to the Chicago Blackhawks 2-1 on Saturday.

The Canucks

Okay, I’ll try to talk about something other than Brock Boeser.

That shot though....

Even though the Canucks buried four goals int he first 40 minutes last night, it wasn’t a perfect game by any means.

This team is still relying too much on the goaltenders to win hockey games. It’s been a common theme in Vancouver over the last two seasons, and last night was no different.

The only reason why Jacob Markstrom’s game isn’t being discussed more, is because of Boeser. The super-rookie is overshadowing what was another strong game by Markstrom.

The Flyers helped show how flawed Corsi can be, by throwing 71 pucks towards the net, whereas the Canucks only had 44 at even-strength.

Still, they still out-chanced the Canucks 31-21. You might think that’s because the Flyers poured it on in the latter part of the game after losing their lead, but they were actually pitiful in the third considering that they were down by three goals.

No, Markstrom held the for down in net for the Canucks, especially in the second period. With the game still close in the middle frame, the Flyers had 15 shots and 14 scoring chances at even-strength.

Unlike Michal Neuvirth, Markstrom didn’t break.

It was another promising game for the 27-year-old. Anders Nilsson should get the start tonight in a back-to-back scenario, but that has nothing to do with Markstrom’s performance.

Game Day Battle Hymn

1997 was a big year for Canucks fans.

Okay, so the team missed the playoffs and none were memorializing the season as a whole, but something else happened.

On February 25th, 1997, Brock Boeser was born.

Sick of the Boeser talk yet? Didn’t think so.

Anyways, let’s go with one of my favourite hits from that year.

Enjoy the game everyone.