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GAME DAY PREVIEW- Game 31: Canucks vs Toronto

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A clash between two mediocre teams tonight as Keefe’s Leafs roll into town.

Toronto Maple Leafs v Vancouver Canucks

VANCOUVER CANUCKS vs OTTAWA SENATORS

7:00PM PST ROGERS ARENA, VANCOUVER, BC

TV: SPORTSNET PACIFIC. RADIO: SN650.

OPPOSITION BLOG: PENSION PLAN PUPPETS

Brandon Sutter won’t be good to go tonight, and Jacob Markstrom will likely be the starter having returned from his leave of absence as the Canucks host the Leafs tonight at the Rog.

The Canucks are coming off Saturday’s emotional 6-5 OT win over the Sabres, while the Leafs start a Western Canadian road swing fresh off a 5-2 win over the St Louis Blues. Both teams are currently on the outside looking in on a wild card spot, but the Canucks are probably in a better situation, being just one point back than the 5 point gap the Leafs find between themselves and the Carolina Hurricanes.

If Sutter had returned tonight, that leaves just Tyler Motte and Alexander Edler on the injured list, and much like the return of Jay Beagle and Michael Ferland, means less of a workload for Bo Horvat. Tonight should be a big game for Josh Leivo. The former Leaf has been on a tear of late, and finally seeing rewards for a season of steady, underappreciated play. A 2 goal performance on Saturday was one of his best as a Canuck, and you know he will be motivated to have another strong night against his old squad.

The Leafs are a lot like the Canucks in some ways: A team hovering around .500 that can look like world beaters some nights, that get their heads caved in on others. After going on a bit of a tear when they replaced Mike Babcock with Sheldon Keefe, they’ve been kinda mediocre. They always seem to get up for these games, though perhaps some of the lustre is gone from this matchup, as the schedulers didn’t even bother to make it the HNIC matchup it has been in the past (and thus the normal start time rather than the 4pm start to appease the Leafs viewing audience).

The Leafs have just one win in Vancouver in the last 13 years, that came in 2016.

LINEUPS:

J.T. Miller - Elias Pettersson - Brock Boeser

Tanner Pearson - Bo Horvat - Josh Leivo

Antoine Roussel - Adam Gaudette - Jake Virtanen

Tim Schaller - Jay Beagle - Micheal Ferland

Quinn Hughes - Tyler Myers

Oscar Fantenberg - Chris Tanev

Jordie Benn - Troy Stecher

Jacob Markstrom

Thatcher Demko

Same lineup as Saturday, with the exception of Jacob Markstrom in goal.

And courtesy our pals over at Pension Plan Puppets, here’s what we should see from the Leafs tonight:

Pontus Aberg - Auston Matthews - William Nylander

Zach Hyman - John Tavares - Mitch Marner

Ilya Mikheyev - Alexander Kerfoot - Kasperi Kapanen

Nic Petan - Pierre Engvall - Jason Spezza

Morgan Rielly - Tyson Barrie

Jake Muzzin - Justin Holl

Travis Dermott - Cody Ceci

Frederik Andersen

Michael Hutchinson

GAME DAY CHATTER:

So what can we expect to see tonight? Two teams in fairly similar circumstances, but it’s the expectations that make them different. Few thought the Canucks would be ready to challenge for a playoff spot this year, while this was supposed to be a season that Toronto really started to dominate. Neither of those predictions has held up so far. There’s still a lot of hockey to be played this season, but it certainly looks a lot like both of these teams aren’t what a lot of people thought they’d be.

GAME DAY BATTLE HYMN:

Germany’s PYOGENESIS have a new album coming in January on Nuclear Blast Records called ‘A Silent Soul Screams Loud’, and this track is a sign it’s gonna be a ripper. Check out ‘Will I Ever Be The Same?’ and enjoy the damn game, alright?