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GAME DAY PREVIEW: Game 28 - Dallas Stars vs. Vancouver Canucks

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The Canucks get their first look at Jim Montgomery and another high-profile rookie.

NHL: Vancouver Canucks at Dallas Stars
Mar 25, 2018; Dallas, TX, USA; Dallas Stars defenseman Marc Methot (33) hits Vancouver Canucks defenseman Ashton Sautner (59) during the third period at the American Airlines Center. The Canucks defeat the Stars 4-1. 
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Dallas Stars (13-10-3) vs. Vancouver Canucks (11-14-3)

Where: Rogers Arena, Vancouver, BC

When: 1:00 pm PST

Where to Watch: Sportsnet Pacific

Opposition Blog: Defending Big D

The Canucks leading man, Francesco Aquilini, has really lowered expectations after three years without playoff hockey.

I don’t know what Franny was drinking to think that a battle between two of the league’s worst teams was a ‘playoff game,’ but I want some.

Speaking of frustrated owners, anyone wonder how Tom Gaglardi feels about this Dallas Stars team?

Jim Montgomery was brought it to take a sharp right turn away from the boring, offence-stifling style of hockey that Ken Hitchcock brought to Dallas last year.

The Stars finished with 2.27 goals-per 60 at evens last season. This year? Well, they’re 23rd overall in the NHL with 2.23 goals per 60 at even-strength. The Canucks are one spot ahead of them with 2.33 goals per 60 at evens.

Maybe Gaglardi is starting to realize that it’s the personnel, and not the coaching, that’s the issue in Dallas. Not that I want to start pumping Hitchcock’s tires, because that was a bad fit last year.

Regardless, get ready to see a battle between two frustrated teams this afternoon at Rogers Arena.

The Canucks

Projected Lines

Nikolay Goldobin - Elias Pettersson - Brock Boeser

Brendan Leipsic - Bo Horvat - Jake Virtanen

Loui Eriksson - Markus Granlund - Sam Gagner

Tim Schaller - Adam Gaudette - Tyler Motte

Projected Defence Pairings

Ben Hutton - Troy Stecher

Alex Edler - Alex Biega

Michael Del Zotto - Chris Tanev

Projected Starter:

I don’t know how y’all feel about this stat from JPat, but I can help but grin while reading this.

Seeing Pettersson and Boeser bury the puck while the Canucks lose is something that most in this market should be embracing. It’s fair to be scared about the defence, but watching the young stars play well on this team while the losses keep piling up isn’t a bad thing for the organization.

Ron McLean gets it.

The only thing lost in the success of the young guns, is that Bo Horvat has been absolutely shafted.

Horvat has been the heart and soul of this team since Day One of training camp, and he’s had an outstanding regular season considering his circumstances.

Hopefully Green keeps him with Virtanen, because I think I speak for everyone when I say we’ve all had enough of Motte and Schaller lining up with Bo.

The Stars

Projected Lines

Jamie Benn - Tyler Seguin - Jason Spezza

Devin Shore - Roope Hintz - Alexander Radulov

Gemel Smith - Radek Faksa - Tyler Pitlick

Mattias Janmark - Jason Dickinson - Blake Comeau

Projected Defence Pairings

Esa Lindell - Miro Heiskanen

Gavin Bayreuther - Roman Polak

Joel Hanley - Taylor Fedun

Confirmed Starter: Ben Bishop (reactivated from IR on Thursday, will start versus Canucks).

November wasn’t necessarily kind to the Dallas Stars, as injuries have started to overtake their roster. You just have to take one glance at their blueline to see that missing John Klingberg, Marc Methot, Stephen Johns and Connor Carrick has had a profound effect on this team.

This will be the first time that the Canucks will get to see Miro Heiskanen live in person. His rookie season hasn’t been mentioned much with guys like Pettersson, Brady Tkachuk and Rasmus Dahlin stealing the spotlight. However, Heiskanen has been an effective defenceman for the Stars.

He’s one of only three Stars regulars with a Corsi above 50%, he’s starting to put up points (10 in his last 20 games), and he’s been averaging 23:36 per game over that time span.

Another Stars player that has gone under the radar is Alex Radulov. Currently, Radulov’s 3.63 points-per-60 at 5-on-5 is fifth-best in the NHL. He trails only Patrice Bergeron, Mikko Rantanen, Brayden Point and Victor Arvidsson in that category.

For the record, Dekey Pete sits 40th with 2.63 points-per-60.

While Radulov and Heiskanen have been good stories, the problem is that the rest of this roster needs to pick up the slack. Spezza is having a nice bounce-back year, Seguin and Benn are still doing their thing, but it’s a mess after that. This should be a cautionary tale for Jim Benning that, although you have some studs in Pettersson & Boeser, much, MUCH more is needed before you can be considered a Stanley Cup contender.

One last thing on the Stars: remember when people were criticizing the Canucks for picking Bo Horvat over Valeri Nichuschkin? Well, Nichuschkin has four assists in 21 games and has been a healthy scratch for Dallas recently.

Can anyone reach out to King PA and ask what he thinks?

GAME DAY BATTLE HYMN

Let’s go with Vancouver-based CRNKSHFT for the battle hymn on Saturday. Listen to this with your morning coffee and you’ll be up until 4pm tomorrow.