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.
Nikolay Goldobin - Elias Pettersson - Loui Eriksson
Antoine Roussel - Bo Horvat - Jake Virtanen
Darren Archibald - Markus Granlund - Tyler Motte
Tim Schaller - Adam Gaudette - Brendan Leipsic
Derrick Pouliot - Chris Tanev
Ben Hutton - Erik Gudbranson
Michael Del Zotto - Troy Stecher
Confirmed Starter: Richard Bachman
Bachman in goal tonight for the #Canucks in Minnesota, giving Markstrom a rest. Bachman played 5 games for Vancouver in 2016. Hear the game on SN 650.— Rick Dhaliwal (@DhaliwalSports) November 15, 2018
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.
Markstrom not on ice for Canucks am skate. Looks like Bachman and Nilsson the goalies tonight.— Iain MacIntyre (@imacSportsnet) November 15, 2018
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.
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
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.
No surprise here, but Devan Dubnyk is your starter tonight.— Jessi Pierce (@jessi_pierce) November 15, 2018
Dubnyk is 7-3-0 with a 2.21 GAA in his past 10 starts#mnwild
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.
Burkie on the Canucks schedule : There travel has been brutal. Whatever draft schedule you get now, is set. Calgary as well just went east, flew back for one and did it all over again. It makes no sense with flight costs, I can't believe the owners aren't more up in arms about it— Sportsnet 650 (@Sportsnet650) November 15, 2018
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.