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GAME DAY PREVIEW: Game 27 - Golden Knights vs. Canucks

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Can the ice cold Canucks halt the red hot Golden Knights?

NHL: Vancouver Canucks at Vegas Golden Knights
Oct 24, 2018; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury (29) makes a save against Vancouver Canucks center Bo Horvat (53) during a shoot out at T-Mobile Arena.
Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Vegas Golden Knights (13-12-1) vs. Vancouver Canucks (11-13-3)

Where: Rogers Arena, Vancouver, BC

When: 7:00 pm PST

Where to Watch: Sportsnet Pacific

Opposition Blog: Knights on Ice

The Vancouver Canucks have been the league’s worst team over the past ten games, but should fans be worried?

At 1-7-2, there’s no colder team in the NHL right now. Since the first of November, only the Quenneville-less Chicago Blackhawks have picked up fewer points (8) than the Canucks (9).

If you’re about to hit the panic button, just remember a few things first.

  • Bo Horvat has been utilized like he’s Connor McDavid/Ryan Suter. He’s been taking the majority of all Canucks face-offs and his ice time reflects that. Only Aleksander Barkov, Mark Schiefele and Patrick Kane have a higher average ice time than Horvat’s 22:09 for the month of November.
  • Brock Boeser has been gone for most of the month, and looked threatening against, albeit against a mediocre Kings team on Tuesday.
  • Despite that, the Canucks are still 10th in the NHL in goals scored.
  • EP is still doing EP things.

The defence, goaltending and penalty kill are the glaring weaknesses on the team right now. That’s cause for concern, but at least the Canucks core building blocks are playing as they should.

That being said, the Canucks are about to face a team tonight that’s scored 14 goals in their last two games. Wonder if Jacob Markstrom got any sleep last night?

The Canucks

Projected Lines (UPDATED)

Nikolay Goldobin - Elias Pettersson - Brock Boeser

Brendan Leipsic - Bo Horvat - Jake Virtanen

Antoine Roussel - Markus Granlund - Loui Eriksson

Tyler Motte - Adam Gaudette - Sam Gagner

Projected Defence Pairings

Ben Hutton - Troy Stecher

Michael Del Zotto - Chris Tanev

Alex Edler - Alex Biega

Projected Starter: Jacob Markstrom

Want some good news about the Canucks over the past month? Despite their atrocious record, their underlying numbers are comparable to one of the league’s best teams.

The Buffalo Sabres.

NHL: Vancouver Canucks at Buffalo Sabres
Nov 10, 2018; Buffalo, NY, USA; Buffalo Sabres center Casey Mittelstadt (37) scores the shootout winning goal on Vancouver Canucks goaltender Jacob Markstrom (25) at KeyBank Center.
Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

Vancouver’s 46.3% scoring chance percentage ranks 24th since November 1st, and they only trail the Sabres by a half per cent. The Canucks are also creating more than the Sabres per-60 minutes at even strength.

Part of this has to do with the Sabres leading in games more than the Canucks, but it also has to do with the fact that Buffalo has been, dare I say it, a bit lucky over their last ten games.

Not only have they been mediocre at even-strength, but here’s a breakdown of their last ten wins: 4 OT victories, 3 shootout triumphs, and 3 wins in regulation.

Basically, the Canucks are the Sabres, minus all the wins and what not...

The Golden Knights

Projected Lines

Jon Marchessault - William Karlsson - Reilly Smith

Max Pacioretty - Cody Eakin - Alex Tuch

Daniel Carr - Tomas Nosek - Ryan Carpenter

William Carrier - Pierre-Edouard Bellemare - Ryan Reaves

Projected D-Pairings

Joakim Ryan - Nate Schmidt

Shea Theodore - Deryk Engelland

Nick Holden - Colin Miller

Projected Starter: Marc-Andre Fleury

Despite a dreadful month of October, the underlying numbers would tell you that Vegas was due for a breakout. Shoddy goaltending mixed with a low shooting percentage meant the Knights were destined for a turnaround.

Well, it looks like their in the midst of that turnaround right now.

The Golden Knights are starting to bury the puck, and they’re starting to do it in bunches. As mentioned before, they’ve scored 14 goals in their last two games and 33 in their last eight.

That seems...good

One of the guys leading the charge is Max Pacioretty, who has six goals and nine points in his last six games, after posting two goals and four points in his first 16.

Some credit has to go to his linemates as well, who have helped form one of the hottest lines in hockey since November 1st. Cody Eakin has seven goals and 12 points in 14 games this month, but it’s the recently signed Alex Tuch who’s leading the charge.

Think Virtanen’s production has been impressive? Tuch, another 2014 first rounder, has 16 points in 14 games this month playing alongside Pacioretty and Eakin.

The top two lines for Vegas are rolling right now, and it’s helped them to four straight wins. Travis Green will have to contain these lines tonight or even better, let EP and Bo loose and go toe-to-toe with the Golden Knights. I don’t like the Canucks odds there, but that seems more entertaining, right?

Game Day Battle Hymn

Like I said, Travis Green, let the boys loose tonight.

Enjoy the game, folks.