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GAME DAY PREVIEW: Game 21 - Vancouver Canucks @ Minnesota Wild

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The Vancouver Canucks look to salvage road trip with a win against the red hot Minnesota Wild

NHL: Minnesota Wild at Vancouver Canucks
Oct 29, 2018; Vancouver, British Columbia, CAN; Vancouver Canucks forward Elias Pettersson (40) celebrates his goal with Vancouver Canucks forward Brock Boeser (6) against Minnesota Wild goaltender Devan Dubnyk (40) (not pictured) during the third period at Rogers Arena. 
Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

Vancouver Canucks (10-6-1) @ Minnesota Wild (11-5-1)

Where: Xcel Energy Center, St. Paul, MN

When: 5:00 pm PST

Where to Watch: Sportsnet Pacific

SB Nation Opposition Blog: Hockey Wilderness

If I could sum up this Canucks road trip in one word, I’d call it weird.

Despite a barrage of injuries, it doesn’t feel as if the Canucks have played that poorly on this road trip. However, they enter the final contest against Minnesota with a 1-2-2 record on the trip.

Really, the only game they deserved to lose was against the New York Islanders on Tuesday night. You could excuse them for laying an egg against the league’s most surprising team since they were playing on the second night of back-to-backs, and Jacob Markstrom was nowhere near the top of his game.

The Canucks controlled the bulk of the play against Detroit, Buffalo and the New York Rangers, yet they salvaged only two of a possible six points in those contests.

Even though they enter Minnesota with only one win through five games on this road trip, they really shouldn’t be feeling too bad about the way they’re playing. Aside from Tuesday’s game in Brooklyn, the Canucks have played some good hockey. Protecting leads and goaltending are both issues at the moment, but the Canucks are creating chances and capitalizing on the power play. That, at the very least, makes for some entertaining hockey.

The Canucks

Forwards

Nikolay Goldobin - Elias Pettersson - Loui Eriksson

Antoine Roussel - Bo Horvat - Jake Virtanen

Darren Archibald - Markus Granlund - Tyler Motte

Tim Schaller - Adam Gaudette - Brendan Leipsic

Defence

Derrick Pouliot - Chris Tanev

Ben Hutton - Erik Gudbranson

Michael Del Zotto - Troy Stecher

Confirmed Starter: Richard Bachman

While it’s probably a game too late, Richard Bachman will get the nod in net tonight.

Travis Green’s reluctance to start Bachman was frustrating, especially since it looks like Markstrom needed a break. That notion is especially true considering that Markstrom isn’t 100%, and wasn’t on the ice for practice this morning.

It’s unfortunate that it took an injury to take Markstrom out of the lineup, because his up and down played was indication that he needed a night off.

Markstrom has actually given the Canucks a good number of quality starts, with his quality start percentage sitting at 57.1%. That’s above the league average of 53%.

The bad news? When Markstrom has been bad, he’s either been really bad or it has come at inopportune times. He was poor against the Islanders, played well but got out-goaltended in Detroit and New York, was bailed out by the offence against Colorado and Boston, and contributed to his team’s loss against the Sabres.

His 3.28 GAA and .896 save percentage simply isn’t good enough, and it makes his 7-5-2 record feel a little lucky.

Bachman has played six career games for the Canucks, with his last performance being one for the ages. It was a bright spot during an incredibly dark season when Bachman stoned Anaheim with 43 saves on 44 shots, in a 2-1 win for the ‘Nucks. One of his other starts for Vancouver actually came against Minnesota earlier in 2016-17, in a 4-2 win. Bachman’s win was overshadowed by something else that afternoon: Boeser’s first game in the NHL.

The Wild

Forwards

Zach Parise - Mikko Koivu - Nino Niederreiter

Jason Zucker - Eric Staal - Mikael Granlund

Jordan Greenway - Joel Eriksson Ek - Charlie Coyle

Marcus Foligno - Matt Hendricks - J.T. Brown

Defence

Ryan Suter - Matt Dumba

Jonas Brodin - Jared Spurgeon

Nick Seeler - Greg Pateryn

Projected Starter: Devan Dubnyk

It seems like every year under Bruce Boudreau, everyone doubts the Minnesota Wild.

The fact that they play in hockey’s toughest division doesn’t help their cause. Neither does the fact that they lack superstar talent. Despite their flaws, the Wild are once again one of the best teams in hockey.

Minnesota currently sits second in the Central Division with an 11-5-1 record, one point ahead of the Winnipeg Jets. They are 7-3 in their last ten games, leaving them as the second-hottest team in hockey (behind the New York Rangers, who are 7-2-1 in their last ten games).

After starting the season 1-2-2, the Wild are 10-3 in their last 13 games. One of those losses did come against the Canucks however, but that was one of only two losses on their recent seven-game road trip.

The Wild are once again winning games by committee, but two players really stand out. One is Mikael Granlund, who leads this team with 10 goals and 18 points in 18 games. He’s been good against the Canucks with 13 points against them in 16 games. Granlund has also been hot of late with three goals and five points in his last five games.

The other standout Wild player is Devan Dubnyk. His .927 save percentage is top-ten among starting goalies. He’s only posted a sub-.900 save percentage in three of his 14 starts this year, with one of those coming against the Canucks. Another came in Minnesota’s last contest against Washington on Tuesday.

In Dubnyk’s previous two games where his save percentage was below .900, he bounced back with save percentages of .938 and .964. That doesn’t bode well for the Canucks tonight.

Dubnky was shaken up after a collision during practice yesterday, but all signs point to him being good to go against the Canucks tonight.

Game Day Battle Hymn

Some out there aren’t a fan of the Canucks road-heavy schedule to start the season.

Where are Franny’s “up in arms” tweets about the Canucks schedule at?

Still, they have to troop through one more game tonight in Minnesota before they return home. If they let Iron Maiden bellow throughout the dressing room at the Xcel Energy Center, chances are they’ll be just fine.