Vancouver Canucks (10-11-2) vs Anaheim Ducks (8-9-5)
Where: Honda Center, Anaheim, CA
When: 7:00 pm PST
Where to Watch: Sportsnet, Sportsnet 1
SB Nation Opposition Blog: Anaheim Calling
What You Need To Know: You simply couldn’t get a better example of how bad the Pacific Division is this year than this game. If the Canucks lose tonight, the then 9-9-5 Anaheim Ducks will push them out of a playoff spot. And if that’s not bad enough, the Oilers are ahead of the Ducks via the tie breaker, and they meet on Friday, so they too could pass the Canucks with a win in that game. Welcome to the reality that is life in the Pacific Division.
There was a time where a California road trip filled teams with dread, but apart from Friday’s game in San Jose against a good Sharks squad, 2⁄3 of this road swing is against some pretty bad teams, and that’s not something we’re used to when it comes to talking about the California contingent. And can we just give a tip of the hat to the NHL schedule makers here? Wednesday in Anaheim, Friday up state to San Jose and then back down to Los Angeles on Saturday. Good lord, this might be one of the more ridiculous quirks of the entire schedule, and that’s from a team that is used to getting it fed to them via their schedule.
With 6 straight losses coming into this one, the Canucks are looking to change their fortunes and if you could ask for an opponent to help you with that you can’t do much better than Anaheim. Much like the Canucks, they’re suffering from a ridiculous amount of injuries (the most recent being Dman Cam Fowler, who had to undergo surgery to repair facial bone fractures after taking a puck in the face). Unlike the Canucks they still have a fair amount of talent, albeit aging, and should be doing better than they are. The one thing that’s keeping them out of the basement with the Kings is G John Gibson, who has been the sole shining light for them so far, but he’s listed as day to day (illness), meaning the Ducks will likely go with former Canuck Ryan Miller in goal tonight.
The Ducks have been struggling, losing 12 of their last 15 games. Something’s gotta give here tonight. It’s gonna come down to which team’s goalie doesn’t blow it, basically. Let’s take a look at your morning reading to get you up to speed for tonight: Ben Kuzma on Nikolay Goldobin turning the corner... The game preview from our pals over at Anaheim Calling is here... With Thatcher Demko finally cleared to play and sent back to Utica, how long before the Canucks decide either Jacob Markstrom or Anders Nilsson must step aside? A nice piece over at Daily Hive on the Canucks not utilizing Troy Stecher enough... Canucks Army looks at whether Reid Boucher should get another shot with the Canucks... From The Province, here’s your projected lineups for tonight:
Tim Schaller — Bo Horvat — Loui Eriksson
Nikolay Goldobin — Elias Pettersson — Sam Gagner
Antoine Roussel — Markus Granlund — Jake Virtanen
Darren Archibald — Adam Gaudette — Tyle Motte
Ben Hutton — Erik Gudbranson
Derrick Pouliot — Chris Tanev
Michael Del Zotto — Troy Stecher
Jacob Markstrom — Richard Bachman
Rickard Rakell — Ryan Getzlaf — Ondrej Kase
Andrew Cogliano — Ryan Kesler — Jakob Silfverberg
Nick Ritchie — Adam Henrique — Pontus Aberg
Brain Gibbons — Kalle Kossila — Kiefer Sherwood
Jacob Larsson — Josh Manson
Josh Mahura — Brandon Montour
Marcus Peterson — Andy Welinski
Ryan Miller — Kevin Boyle
Canucks: Brock Boeser (adductor, week-to-week. IR), Brandon Sutter (separated shoulder, IR), Anders Nilsson (finger facture, day-to-day, IR). Sven Baertschi (concussion, IR), Alex Edler (knee sprain, day-to-day, IR), Jay Beagle (forearm fracture, IR).
Ducks: John Gibson (illness, day-to-day), Cam Fowler (facial fracture, IR), Hampus Lindholm (lower body, IR), Corey Perry (knee, IR), Carter Rowney (upper body, IR), Maxime Comtois (lower boy, IR), Kevin Roy (upper body, IR), Patrick Eaves (back spasms, IR).
GAME DAY BATTLE HYMN
Another track off that Best of Metal Blade Vol 2 album, this time from Orange County thrash legends HIRAX. Featuring the inimitable Katon W. DePena on vocals, it’s ‘Criminal Punishment’ time. I picked up this Hirax album a couple months ago, famous for it’s ‘Eggman’ artwork by Pushead, best known for some of his work for Metallica.