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.
Man, so tight, almost like a playoff game.— Francesco Aquilini (@fr_aquilini) November 28, 2018
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.
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
I don’t know how y’all feel about this stat from JPat, but I can help but grin while reading this.
#Canucks have scored 3 and lost in three of their past 6 games (vs WPG/at ANA/vs VGK). 3 goals should be enough to get something— Jeff Paterson (@patersonjeff) November 30, 2018
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.
Ron Maclean on SN 650 on the Canucks : The general consensus in the hockey world is, the Canucks don't want to be too good yet. They need one more piece to go with Elias and Brock. All these 1 goal defeats are almost like 1 goal victories. #Canucks— Rick Dhaliwal (@DhaliwalSports) November 30, 2018
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.
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.