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Game Day Preview- Game 5: Canucks vs Detroit

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Thatcher Demko gets his first start of the year as the Detroit Red Wings and the Canucks face off for the first of two games in a week against each other.

NHL: Detroit Red Wings at Vancouver Canucks Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

VANCOUVER CANUCKS vs DETROIT RED WINGS

7:00PM PST ROGERS ARENA, VANCOUVER, BC

TV: SNONE. RADIO: SN650.

OPPOSITION BLOG: WINGING IT IN MOTOWN

With Jacob Markstrom out this week to attend to personal matters, the pressure to keep the Canucks 2 game win streak alive falls on the shoulders of Thatcher Demko tonight as the Detroit Red Wings come to town. Though they lost their last game, the Wings have won both of their road games so far this season, and the Canucks would do well not to underestimate this squad.

To get you up to speed on the team that Mr Howe built, we spoke with Winging It In Motown’s JJ From Kansas about the Wings:

1. The Ken Holland era is over and the Steve Yzerman era has begun. Give us a sense of how long it’s going to take Stevie Y to get this team back on track.

The good news (and the dirty secret among the Red Wings fanbase) is that we all expected the rebuild was on it’s “getting back on track” phase before Stevie came back on board and started preaching patience. Many of us are hopeful the leaguewide prognosticators are wrong about how the largely unchanged team is going to have largely unchanged results from the previous season; but, you’ll find just as many of us who are hopeful that the potential for the youth to break out is tempered enough to keep the team from becoming first round playoff fodder and costing them a lottery pick they almost certainly still need. The most-hopeful among us think the team is still a full year from having a beneficial playoff shot and at least two or three from being near the “budding contender” label.

2. The Wings have started the season with a .500 record. Even though it’s early, is there room for optimism after what appears to be a pretty decent start (apart from the loss against the Leafs)?

Heck, there’s ALWAYS room for optimism in my world. Watching your team just to suffer is more an Oilers thing. There’s certainly opportunities to enjoy what’s going on and find the fun, but we aren’t realistically expecting the Bertuzzi - Larkin - Mantha line to keep putting up four goals per game.

3. Like the Canucks, the Wings have made some changes over the summer, what are the more notable ones, and how are the new faces doing so far?

The biggest change is the retirement of Nik Kronwall. With Henrik Zetterberg having already stepped away, he was the locker room leader last season. While his body was no longer capable of playing great hockey, his presence was helpful for the youngsters. Kronwall stepping away opened the door for one more fresh face. Of course, that fresh face was Patrik Nemeth, but I don’t think that signing really bothered anybody considering we expected injuries to limit the playing time of Mike Green, Jonathan Ericsson, and Trevor Daley. I want the kids to play more too, but at some point, you have to dress SOMEBODY who isn’t a greenhorn.

4. I think the most shocking thing about Jimmy Howard is that he’s only 35, because it seems like he’s been in the Wings crease forever. How long can he keep going and who should we watch for in the Wings system to eventually take over?

I think Howard has stepped into and willingly accepts the role of “placeholder until the team is good again” goalie. He’s here to provide the kind of goaltending that isn’t going to get the youth’s confidence crushed by having every single mistake they make end up in the back of the net, but he shouldn’t steal so many games you find yourself out of the lottery either. The guy the team is kind of hoping will grow into the starter’s role by the time the team needs a game-stealer is Filip Larsson, who is starting his first professional season in Grand Rapids this year and is already 1-0 (woo!)

5. Finally, where do you see the Wings ending up this season? Can they make the playoffs or is there more work to be done?

I think they’re a bubble team until close to Christmas and then fall off and end up near the bottom of the standings. I think they’ll be ahead of Ottawa, but still solidly in the running for a great lottery pick.

Thanks to JJ for taking the time to chat!

LINEUPS:

So barring any last minute setback, that means Tyler Motte will be in tonight and we’ll see Adam Gaudette in the press box, keeping Loui Eriksson company. Ferland on line 2 is one we should watch, hopefully this combo can gel quickly. He’s due for a big game and it would be good if it happened at home.

The Canucks have also recalled Ashton Sautner and Zane McIntyre from Utica. There was one other move today, though this one was expected:

Alex Biega will be in the Wings lineup to face his old team for the first time, so expect a nice round of applause for the Bulldog at some point during the game.

GAME DAY CHATTER:

GAME DAY BATTLE HYMN:

Today feels like it calls for one of those songs that makes you feel bulletproof, so how about some brand new CRO-MAGS? And they’ll sweeten the deal by throwing in an appearance by MOTORHEAD’s Phil Campbell! And for those who didn’t know, this legendary NYHC features former SUICIDAL TENDENCIES Rocky George on guitar. It’s the title track to a 3 song ep coming out in December on Victory Records.