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GAME DAY PREVIEW- GAME 43: Canucks @ Ottawa

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After a game in New Jersey that saw the Canucks get nowhere, they’re hoping they can get a Lyft in Ottawa. Get it? Hello...?

Vancouver Canucks v Ottawa Senators Photo by Andre Ringuette/NHLI via Getty Images

Vancouver Canucks (19-19-4) vs Ottawa Senators (15-21-4)

Where: Canadian Tire Centre, Ottawa, ON

When: 4:00 pm PST

Where to Watch: Sportsnet

SB Nation Opposition Blog: Silver Seven Sens

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: You might have noticed we haven’t started anything that resembles a hearty endorsement of the Canucks pushing towards a playoff spot. That’s due to (at least in my opinion) this team showing signs that they’re not ready to make that move and are going to fall off in the last half of the season. And why do I think that? Well, coming off a 4-0 loss to the Taylor Hall-less New Jersey Devils is one reason. Another is the very real possibility that they’re going to sit Nikolay Goldobin in favour of Tim Schaller tonight. This should have you screaming at your monitors if it plays out.

Look, no one’s saying that Goldobin isn’t struggling in the defensive side of the game. He didn’t have a good one on Monday, that’s for sure. However, the fact that Goldobin’s being held accountable when so many others get free passes, especially considering the consistency that Goldy’s been producing in terms of offence (and offensive chances) make the possibility of this happening a maddening development. Schaller has brought absolutely nothing to the team this year, and it’s laughable that his insertion into the lineup over Goldobin is a way to improve the team’s performance from a defensive standpoint.

Schaller would be best served giving the kids down in Utica a hand (and Markus Granlund would also do well to be down with the Comets). At this point, if this team truly believes they’re capable of making a push for the playoffs (and remember, some of the teams chasing them for that last spot hold as many 4 games in hand on the Canucks), they’re not going to do it with Schaller in the lineup over Goldobin.

And then there’s the goaltending. I honestly cannot say enough good things about the play of Jacob Markstrom in December. He gave them a chance to win every time he stepped on the ice, and along with Brock Boeser, Bo Horvat, Elias Pettersson and Alexander Edler, is one of the reasons they’re even in the mix (that and the West, especially the Pacific being overloaded with hot garbage teams). Anders Nilsson? Let me be blunt. Whether the Canucks are going for it, going full on tank, or something in between, I do not wish to see him play another game for the Canucks. Full stop. Sure, having him in helps the draftist cause. He honestly doesn’t look like he’s capable of winning another game in the NHL right now, and the time to bring in Thatcher Demko is here. They of course aren’t going to do that, because it’s not just the hockey gods that keep us from having nice things. There’s a lot of self-abuse in the Canucks world. Meanwhile, Corey Hirsch was on SN650 this morning discussing it being time for the Canucks to move on from Goldobin...

And Elliotte Freidman also said as much in his new 31 Thoughts. There’s also some stuff on Alex Edler in there, always worth a read.

As far as the opposition goes, tonight’s another big showdown as the Canucks super rookie Elias Pettersson takes on the best new Sens prospect: er... Colin White. Sure, there’s been a lot of hype about Brady Tkachuk, and he’s going to be a very big part of the Sens down the road (they’re going to love him in Kansas City/Houston/Quebec City or wherever this godforsaken team ends up), but White’s rookie season is far more impressive, especially given the Sens struggles. They’ve shown some signs of life, but never anything sustainable. And they’re pretty banged up right now, including G Craig Anderson (which might have something to do with their 5 game losing streak). They’re also without Justin Falk, Jean-Gabriel Pageau, Marion Gaborik and Thomas Chabot, meaning you’re going to see a lot of unfamiliar names for the Sens tonight.

A lot of people would take this opportunity to take some shots at the team over their ownership and management issues, but I’m not going to go there. First, there’s a lot of Sens twitter guys and gals I like, and I genuinely feel for the frustration they have about their team and what’s happened to them. We complain about Francesco Aqualini and Jim Benning, but man it could be so much worse. Besides, what damning statement could I say that stings worse than anything Sens fans have said themselves. As bad as things are in Vancouver, we’ve not even come close to renting out billboards.

All in all, this should be a fairly entertaining game, believe it or not. Both teams have some young talent with speed and skill who can put the puck in the net. Both teams treat defensive responsibility like an afterthought. That adds up to some fun hockey, right? Here’s some reading to get you up to speed for tonight: The Ottawa Sun’s preview is here... JPat on not taking any teams lightly, even the Sens... Sens coach Guy (I’m not a James Bond film villian, honest) Boucher yesterday after practice

Meanwhile this should surprise absolutely no one...

OLASEP has now been awarded the ROTM from the NHL for the 2nd time in 3 months... The Stanchion on fixing some issues via free agency (something the Canucks have struggled with in the Benning Era)...

And from The Province, here’s the potential lineups (and yes, I will be pissed if this is the case...)

CANUCKS LINES

Antoine Roussel-Bo Horvat-Loui Eriksson

Josh Leivo-Elias Pettersson-Brock Boeser

Sven Baertschi-Markus Granlund-Jake Virtanen

Tim Schaller-Jay Beagle-Tyler Motte

Defence

Alexander Edler-Chris Tanev

Ben Hutton-Erik Gudbranson

Derrick Pouliot-Troy Stecher

Goalies: Jacob Markstrom, Anders Nilsson

Sick Bay

F Brandon Sutter

SENATORS LINES

Brady Tkachuk-Colin White-Mark Stone

Ryan Dzingel-Matt Duchene-Bobby Ryan

Magnus Paajarvi-Chris Tierney-Mikkel Boedker

Nick Paul-Zack Smith-Jack Rodewald

Defence

Max Lajoie-Cody Ceci

Ben Harpur-Dylan DeMelo

Mark Borowiecki-Christian Wolanin

Goalies: Mike McKenna, Marcus Hogberg

Sick Bay

G Craig Anderson, D Justin Falk, F Jean-Gabriel Pageau, F Marian Gaborik, D Thomas Chabot, D Christian Jaros.

SPECIAL TEAMS

Senators: PP: 21.3 (12th), PK: 75.0 (29th)

Canucks: PP: 17.8 (21st), PK: 77.8 (21st)

GAME DAY BATTLE HYMN: Ottawa’s not the most prolific city when it comes to producing memorable metal, but the bands they have put out? Massive in the history of Canada’s metal scene. Annihilator is still going strong and one of Canada’s best thrash bands ever. Fuck The Facts are a well respected act in the grindcore scene, and continue to release quality stuff. And then back in the early days there was Exciter. Right at the time bands like Metallica, Anthrax and Slayer were releasing their first albums, Exciter unleashed ‘Heavy Metal Maniac’ on Shrapnel Records, but it was their 2nd album ‘Violence And Force’ on Megaforce Records (home to Metallica, Anthrax, S.O.D., Testament, Overkill, and Vio-Lence among others) that made a huge splash. They’ve sold over half a million albums worldwide and are continuing to play live and record. They were one of the first true speed metal bands, and a huge influence on many of the thrash and death metal bands that came after them. Here’s the title track from ‘Violence And Force’. Enjoy the game, folks...