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GAME DAY PREVIEW: Canucks vs Pittsburgh Mar 11/17

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Over the last couple years, the fans of the Canucks have been divided into 2 pretty recognizable camps: Draftists (aka Team Tank), who want the Canucks to finish as low in the standings so that the chance of a high draft pick can help the team rebuild, and on the other side of the fence, those who think that the Canucks should be doing everything they can to get into the post-season, to give the youth they have experience. Somehow, the Canucks managed to find a way to piss both camps off this week.

Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

Vancouver Canucks vs. Pittsburgh Penguins

7:00 PM PT - Rogers Arena- Vancouver, BC

TV: CBC - Radio: TSN 1040

It might be one of their more impressive moves this season, really. Game results that neither side is happy with. Back to back OT losses against the New York Islanders and Montreal pissed off the 'real fans' and Team Tank equally. It's pretty remarkable that there's this much drama over a team that's not going to make the playoffs without some type of Hollywood screenplay-worthy run to end the season/divine intervention. Yet here we are, battling about whether this coach is the problem, or is it that he just hasn't been given a fair shake. Player usage is still a huge issue. Injuries and illness are taking their toll. And it's a sign of just how much these past couple years have ground this fan base into the dust, that no one seemed to be arsed to roast USA Today for their 65 point prediction, even as bad as the Canucks have been, falling far short of the mark.

Just how bad was that prediction? Bad, but not as bad as some of the others on their list:

They truly got a lot wrong here. Even in picking the Avs to flounder, they're so far from hitting 73 pts. Look at where they've got the Oilers and Kings. And in the East, while no one saw Columbus doing what they've done this season, there's a ton of disrespect for that team in this prediction. Also, Tampa? Yeesh.

THE OPPOSITION

The Penguins come in fresh off a thrilling shootout win over the Oilers last night that was as much a game that showed off all of the good that is the game of hockey as it did the ineptitude of the people running it. A showdown between the 2 best players in hockey: the old guard and the young blood. It was as billed. And it was not televised nationally in either country. This is just unacceptable. Bettman and his crew just constantly drop the ball on what the fans truly want from the game.

The Penguins sit 3rd in the Metropolitan Division, unable to catch the Capitals and locked in a battle with Columbus for 2nd that will likely go down to the wire. The Penguins are banged up at the moment, missing Kris Letang, Olli Maatta, Patrik Hornqvist, Bryan Rust and Trevor Daley, but they're still a formidable foe. They'll start Matt Murray tonight, after a pretty impressive performance from Marc-Andre Fleury last night in Edmonton. The Penguins will also be without Tom Sestito, suspended for 4 games this week for his douchebag hit on Winnipeg's Tobias Enstrom.

Sestito was called up by the Penguins for the sole purpose of doing exactly what he did in his 63 seconds of ice time: get into a staged fight, and take someone out with a cheap shot as revenge for incidents the last time these teams met. The fact that it happened on the anniversary of the Todd Bertuzzi/Steve Moore incident is pretty sick, and a sign that the NHL still hasn't learned that lesson, either.

THE CANUCKS

So much news this week, eh? More illness, more injuries, the out of left field news that TSN 1040 has lost the broadcast rights for the Canucks for next season. Where to begin? Well, let's start with who's in and who's out.

Alex Biega and Brendan Gaunce are both out tonight. Biega was playing forward in the last game, but is a healthy scratch tonight. Curious, as he certainly wasn't the worst forward on the ice for the Canucks against the Isles, though I am sure you can guess the name of the guy who was (I'll give you a hint, it rhymes with Yegna). The Canucks will slot in Joseph LaBate and Alexandre Grenier in their place. Nikolay Goldobin is still out (illness).

Ryan Miller gets the start tonight, and Jacob Markstrom has been skating at practices, meaning he's close to returning. Though the Canucks have lost 2 straight OT games, they've gotten points in 4 straight. The Canucks chances of making the playoffs now sit at 0.2%.

GAME DAY BATTLE HYMN

California thrashers WARBRINGER are back with a new one, and Woe To The Vanquished features what the band does best: heavy yet hook-laden stompers like this one: 'Remain Violent'.