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GAME DAY PREVIEW: Game 6 - Vancouver Canucks @ Pittsburgh Penguins

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Does anybody care about the game or are fans still thirsty for blood?

NHL: Vancouver Canucks at Pittsburgh Penguins
Nov 22, 2017; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Vancouver Canucks defenseman Alexander Edler (23) congratulates right wing Brock Boeser (6) on his second goal of the game against the Pittsburgh Penguins during the second period at PPG PAINTS Arena.
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Vancouver Canucks (3-2-0) @ Pittsburgh Penguins (2-1-1)

Where: PPG Paints Arena, Pittsburgh, PN

When: 4:00 pm PST

Where to watch: Sportsnet One

Where to listen: SN 650

Opposition Blog: Pensburgh

The Vancouver Canucks play a game tonight. Do fans still care, or is everyone thirsty for blood?

Mike Matheson was suspended for two games yesterday, but that shouldn’t satisfy anyone in Vancouver. Revenge was never sought out on the ice, super kid Elias Pettersson won’t play for the rest of the road trip, and many feel that two games is insufficient.

Even without Pettersson in this game, you have to wonder if the Canucks are hungry to show that they will stand up for each other. There’s no bad blood with this Eastern Conference opponent, but the Canucks and there lack of toughness will be under a microscope in Pennsylvania tonight.

One other thing we won’t see is Brock Boeser light up Matt Murray again. The Pens netminder came down with a concussion during an incident in practice last week. He backed up Casey DesSmith against Montreal over the weekend, and he looks to be doing the same tonight against Vancouver.

Still, here’s Murray’s finest moment in the NHL to lighten your mood.

The Canucks

Forwards

Sven Baertschi - Bo Horvat - Brock Boeser

Nikolay Goldobin - Adam Gaudette - Loui Eriksson

Antoine Roussel - Brandon Sutter - Jake Virtanen

Tim Schaller - Markus Granlund - Tyler Motte

Defence

Alex Edler - Chris Tanev

Ben Hutton - Erik Gudbranson

Derrick Pouliot - Troy Stecher

Starting Goalie: Anders Nilsson

On the one hand, I’m excited to see Adam Gaudette play tonight. The 22-year-old will make his season debut after starting strong in Utica with four points in his first four games.

On the other hand, even Gaudette’s season debut isn’t enough to offset the loss of Pettersson. It’s still a story worth following during the game, but the looming black cloud of Pettersson’s absence hangs over this team like Gritty haunting your worst nightmares.

Some other things to watch include Nikolay Goldobin without Pettersson by his side. The Russian winger has looked effective with Pettersson, but how will he fare on his own?

Another under-the-radar story is that Troy Stecher is on the third pairing. He’s quickly slipped down the depth chart after beginning the season on the top pairing with Alex Edler. He hasn’t played more than 18:21 this season and played a season-low 13:33 against the Panthers on Saturday.

No word on the starting goalie yet but it wouldn’t be a surprise if Jacob Markstrom was called on tonight. Anders Nilsson looked good again against Florida, but he wasn’t as spectacular as he was against the Lightning last week.

UPDATE: I’ll chalk up the “L” on this one. Looks like Nilsson starts his third straight game tonight.

The Opposition

Forwards

Derick Brassard - Sidney Crosby - Jake Guentzel

Carl Hagelin - Evgeni Malkin - Phil Kessel

Bryan Rust - Riley Sheahan - Patric Hornqvist

Dominik Simon - Matt Cullen - Daniel Sprong

Defence

Brian Dumoulin - Kris Letang

Jack Johnson - Jamie Oleksiak

Olli Maatta - Jusso Riikola

Starting Goalie: Casey DeSmith

The Penguins suffered a big blow this week when they learned that Justin Schultz will be sidelined for four months after fracturing his leg. At least he’ll be back for when the Penguins need him most: The playoffs.

Evgeni Malkin and Phil Kessel have been the hottest Penguins so far, with a combined 15 points in their first four games. Kessel already has a hat trick to boot as well.

Look for Sidney Crosby to get on the score sheet tonight. He has four assists through four games but remains goalless. Crosby has eight goals and 14 points in 15 career games against the Canucks.

Hopefully you don’t have Daniel Sprong on your fantasy hockey team. The young winger was an option to play with Crosby or Malkin, but he’s on the fourth line with Matt Cullen instead.

With three assists in his first for games, Sprong might not be there too long.

Game Day Battle Hymn

With Pettersson missing this game, I feel hollow inside. I’m emotionless watching this game tonight, kind of like the Canucks were emotionless after Pettersson was injured. Too soon?

I’ll give a shout out to Zombie Nation, because they epitomize this fan base. It’s another game for the team without Pettersson, and we’re all counting down the days until his return.

Hopefully this gem from NHL 15 will bring back some emotion to this game. Hey, Boeser did light up the Pens for five goals in two games last year. A similar performance will go a long ways towards temporarily reinvigorating this fan base.