5:00 p.m. PST, Bridgestone Arena, Nashville, TN
TV: Sportsnet Pacific, Radio: SN650
Sometimes the game at hand isn’t the most important thing going, and today would be one of those days.
Maybe this news shouldn’t be a shock, but Derek Dorsett and the Vancouver Canucks announced that the gritty winger has been shut down for the season because of a persistent neck injury.
Nerve injuries are nothing to screw around with. Broken bones will heal but nerve damage can last a lifetime. The fact that Dorsett came back and played like he was never injured was a testament to how hard this guy wanted to play. It’s also scary that Dorsett played hard and had a few fights this season even though the injury turned out to be chronic.
The kind words and thoughts for Dorsett were floating in this morning as the news broke.
“It’s very sad news. We all hoped for the best when he left the team. Our locker room hurts; he played with such passion. Since day one he’s always had my back. He’s been a great leader.” - Hutton on Dorsett— Vancouver Canucks (@Canucks) November 30, 2017
told great story of Dorsett trying to win PIM title in RJ’s rookie season. Final game need 10, told Johansen to start a scrum ‘and then I’m coming in hot’ https://t.co/IU0Yehla9Y— Jeff Paterson (@patersonjeff) November 30, 2017
For the Canucks now, they will be without one of their biggest leaders in the locker room. It’s a swift and unexpected blow for the young team, and someone will have to step up in his absence.
The Canucks will face their toughest test of the road trip tonight in Nashville. Will they buckle under the pressure, or can they bring one home for Dorsett?
On paper, Nashville is one of the last teams I would want to face right now as a player.
So many things are going right for the organization. The defence is once again playing as the league’s best. The Predators lead the league in points from the back end with 61 points (64 if you count the departed Samuel Girard).
On the other end of the rink, the Canucks as a defensive unit have four goals and 32 points.
More on the Canucks defence in a second.
As much as goalie Pekka Rinne takes flak for his inconsistencies, the Finnish netminder is among the league’s best goalies with a 14-3-2 record and a .928 save percentage.
The Preds are also 10-1-1 in their last 12 games. They haven’t lost in regulation since they dropped a 6-4 game to the Minnesota Wild on Nov. 16th.
They also have one of the best home records in the league at 9-1-1 overall. It feels like the Canucks have seen this before on the road trip?
This will undoubtedly be a stiff test for the Canucks. The Preds will be a measuring stick for the Canucks to see how they fare against the league’s elite.
So after whispers were growing about Anders Nilsson getting more playing time, he goes into Brooklyn and gives up five goals.
Of course, after one of his poorer starts, Nilsson gets the nod again tonight against Nashville.
It’s a tough test fo Nilsson to go up against two of the best home teams in the league in back-to-back games. Hopefully, he embraces the challenges gets back to his shutout form from earlier in the season.
In other Canucks news today, Goldobin will make his season debut.
Nilsson starts and Goldobin is in, confirms Coach Green. “We’re looking for him to create offence and play well defensively.”— Vancouver Canucks (@Canucks) November 30, 2017
“I’m very excited, can’t wait to step on the ice and get it going right away. I’m going to stay calm and do my thing: play hard and create chances.” - Goldobin— Vancouver Canucks (@Canucks) November 30, 2017
No word on who draws out of the lineup in favour of Goldobin, although I’m sure many fans would be upset if Jake Virtanen was the guy to come out.
The other glaring option would be Alex Burmistrov, who hasn’t done much of anything while he’s been in the lineup.
If Goldobin can impress, it would bring a much-needed scoring punch to the Canucks lineup. However, what really separates these two teams offensively is defencemen.
The Canucks have six forwards who have at least 12 points, and seven if you count Eriksson’s pace. The Preds have five, but six if you count Turris’ production through nine games in Nashville.
Up front, these teams are even. It’s on defence where there’s a huge disparity.
As mentioned before, the Preds lead the league in points from the back end. P.K. Subban, Roman Josi and Mattias Ekholm all have more than 15 points. The Canucks highest scoring defenceman is Michael Del Zotto, who has one goal and nine points in 25 games.
Although Derrick Pouliot has looked good, more is needed offensively from the likes of Ben Hutton, Alex Edler, and Troy Stecher. All of these defenceman have shown scoring prowess in the past. It’s unlikely the Canucks will move up the standings until the defence can start to contribute more on offence.
Game Day Battle Hymn
In preparation for this game, it’s all about Dorsett.
Of course, Dorsett wouldn’t let us down with his goal song from 2015-16.
You gotta wave your hands in the air for this one. Do it for Dorsett.