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GAME DAY PREVIEW: Game 17 - Vancouver Canucks @ Boston Bruins

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The Alien. The Rat. The ‘Rematch’ Chapter 13...

NHL: Boston Bruins at Vancouver Canucks
Vancouver Canucks forward Bo Horvat (53) defends against Boston Bruins forward David Krejci (46) during the second period at Rogers Arena on Oct. 20, 2018.
Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

Vancouver Canucks (9-6-1) @ Boston Bruins (8-4-2)

Where: TD Garden, Boston, MA

When: 4:00 pm PST

Where to Watch: Sportsnet Pacific

Opposition Blog: Stanley Cup of Chowder

Really? We’re still going to do this?

Most people aren’t over it Dave, caman. Didn’t we just go through this two weeks ago?

Not even that, but this is the 13th time that the Canucks and Bruins have faced off since Game Seven of the 2011 finals. Every time these two teams meet, the question gets asked, and the answer doesn’t change. Maybe wait for a couple of years to bring it up again?

At this point, there’s almost enough healthy doses of Elias Pettersson to make us all forget about the 2011 misery. I wouldn’t blame you if that’s how you feel. EP’s play is absolutely out of control right now, with an astounding ten goals and 16 points in ten games.

He might be off to one of the best starts in NHL history, but tonight presents another challenge for the 19-year-old.

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-Tampa Bay Lightning at Boston Bruins
Boston Bruins left wing Brad Marchand (63) during the second period in game four of the second round of the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Tampa Bay Lightning at TD Garden.
Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Tonight is the first time that The Alien and The Rat will face off, and virtually everybody expects Marchand to try and do something to get under Pettersson’s skin.

If he does, all eyes will be on the Canucks response. Put your money on the Canucks not wanting to be publicly vilified once again. If Marchand gets anywhere near Pettersson, the Canucks know they’ll have to respond.

This would be the perfect game to mic up Pettersson though, in PK Subban fashion. I’m sure the Icon himself would throw some sweet alien lingo right back at the league’s most hated player.

Aside from the extra terrestrial curricular stuff, there are actually some big offensive guns heading into this matchup. Well, at least there’s Pettersson....

EP currently leads the league in points-per-60 at even-strength with 4.67. Before you find the next Canuck (Loui Eriksson, 113th, 1.98), you find four Bruins (Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, David Pastrnak and Charlie McAvoy). Against a team that’s riding a circa-2010 Jaroslav Halak, the Canucks will need someone else to chip in.

The Canucks

At practice this morning, the Canucks lines remain unchanged from Tuesday’s contest.

Forwards

Nikolay Goldobin - Elias Pettersson - Loui Eriksson

Tim Schaller - Bo Horvat - Jake Virtanen

Antoine Roussel - Markus Granlund - Tyler Motte

Darren Archibald - Adam Gaudette - Brendan Leipsic

Defence

Ben Hutton - Erik Gudbranson

Derrick Pouliot - Chris Tanev

Michael Del Zotto - Troy Stecher

Projected Starter: Jacob Markstrom

The Canucks got some news this morning about Brock Boeser’s status.

The organization made the right call here, as Boeser hasn’t looked himself all season. That’s not to say he’s played poorly, as he has 11 points in 13 games.

To think that he’s almost a point-per-game player while he’s not 100% should add some giddiness to your excitement about this team. A more experienced Pettersson and a healthy Boeser bode extremely well for this organization moving forward.

One last note about one of the least discussed Canucks.

After sitting in the press box as a healthy scratch to start the season, Tim Schaller has impressed the Canucks coaching staff enough to stick with Bo Horvat for the last two and a half weeks. He’s been solid, yet unspectacular in the role, and he’s still searching for his first goal as a Canuck.

Fellow Massachusetts native Adam Gaudette should also get some love tonight. Perfect night for him to score his first, right??

The Bruins

Forwards

Brad Marchand - Patrice Bergeron - David Pastrnak

Jokaim Nordstrom - David Krejci - Jake DeBrusk

Danton Heinen - David Backes - Anders Bjork

Chris Wagner - Sean Kurlay - Noel Acciari

Defence

Zdeno Chara - Brandon Carlo

Torey Krug - John Moore

Matt Grzelcyk - Steve Kampfer

Confirmed Starter: Jaroslav Halak

One of the the biggest surprises this season has been the resurgence of Jaroslav Halak. I don’t know if he kept a vile of sweat from those 2010 playoffs and lathered himself in it before the start of this season, but whatever he’s doing, it’s working.

Halak currently leads the NHL with a .952 (!!) save percentage in seven starts for the Bruins. Surprisingly, Halak has only four wins in those starts, going 4-1-2 in that span. He does have two shutouts in those games, but he also suffered an overtime loss to the Canucks back in October.

Here’s something else to watch for with the Bruins tonight.

The Bruins power play is clicking at a clinical 29.5% right now and as Batch mentioned, it’s only gotten better since Krug returned to the lineup. However, Krug has but two assists with the man advantage. The Bruins big three of Marchand. Pastrnak and Berergon have a combined nine goals and 13 assists with the man advantage so far this season.

For the record, the Canucks penalty kill has quietly slipped, but at 81% efficiency, they still rank in the upper half of the league (12th overall).

Game Day Battle Hymn

It’s Alien Time. Let’s go.