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GAME DAY PREVIEW- Game 40: Canucks @ Calgary

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The Canucks are in Calgary for the last game of 2019, riding a 4 game win streak and looking to overtake the Flames in the standings. No, seriously.

NHL: OCT 05 Canucks at Flames Photo by Brett Holmes/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

VANCOUVER CANUCKS vs CALGARY FLAMES

6:30PM PST SCOTIABANK SADDLEDOME, CALGARY, AB

TV: SPORTSNET, SN1, SN360. RADIO: SN650.

OPPOSITION BLOG: MATCHSTICKS AND GASOLINE

They’re good. They’re bad. They’re mediocre. Who the hell actually knows with this team, because there’s a million different ways to look at what’s going on with the Vancouver Canucks and they’re all as clear as mud. At the end of the day, they’ve somehow clawed their way back into a playoff spot thanks to 4 straight wins, and can finish the month at 8-5-0 (which seems surprising, when you think back) and sets them up good for a week with two more home games before a lengthy 5 game Eastern swing.

The problem is not many of the wins they pulled off in December were terribly convincing, with last night’s being a prime example. Thoroughly outshot and outperformed by Los Angeles, they got another stellar night out of Jacob Markstrom, who stopped a career high 49 of 51 shots to help the Canucks steal one from the Kings. And sure, there’s something to be said about finding ways to win. There’s also nothing but positives about your number one goalie doing what he’s supposed to do: give you a chance to win every night. What’s not good is the volume of shots they’re giving up right now. Teams are eating them alive, and relying on your goalie to bail you out every night is not a formula for success.

That’s not to say that Markstrom was the only good player on the ice last night. Jake Virtanen had another strong game, scoring his 11th of the season, and was a threat along with Adam Gaudette and Antoine Roussel all night long. That 3rd line is really starting to come together, and that should help take pressure off the top 6. Troy Stecher had a whale of a game, making smart plays and utilizing his surprisingly physical game to eliminate chances for the Kings. And mere seconds after the Kings tied it, the top line responded, as you would expect them to, restoring the lead (that would hold up) under 20 seconds after the Kings scored.

LINEUPS:

No real changes, but considering Markstrom’s workload last night, it’s a fairly safe bet that Thatcher Demko gets the nod in goal tonight. Here’s what we should see, courtesy nhl.com:

Canucks projected lineup

J.T. Miller -- Elias Pettersson -- Brock Boeser

Tanner Pearson -- Bo Horvat -- Loui Eriksson

Antoine Roussel -- Adam Gaudette -- Jake Virtanen

Tyler Motte -- Jay Beagle -- Tim Schaller

Quinn Hughes -- Christopher Tanev

Alexander Edler -- Troy Stecher

Oscar Fantenberg -- Tyler Myers

Thatcher Demko

Jacob Markstrom

Scratched: Zack MacEwen, Jordie Benn

Injured: Josh Leivo (fractured kneecap), Brandon Sutter (upper body), Micheal Ferland (upper body), Tyler Graovac (upper body)

Flames projected lineup

Matthew Tkachuk -- Elias Lindholm -- Andrew Mangiapane

Johnny Gaudreau -- Sean Monahan -- Mikael Backlund

Milan Lucic -- Derek Ryan -- Dillon Dube

Tobias Rieder -- Mark Jankowski -- Michael Frolik

Mark Giordano -- TJ Brodie

Noah Hanifin -- Travis Hamonic

Oliver Kylington -- Rasmus Andersson

David Rittich

Cam Talbot

Scratched: Sam Bennett, Zac Rinaldo, Michael Stone

Injured: None

That Sam Bennett healthy scratch looks a little odd, but I guess he’s not 19 year old Sam Bennett anymore. With a win tonight, the Canucks can actually vault into 2nd place in the Pacific (with an Arizona regulation loss) thanks to games in hand, so finding motivation for this game won’t be an issue. The Flames are a better team at home than they are on the road, and have won 6 of their last 10, but only 2 of their last 6.

Some interesting facts about last night’s victory:

GAME DAY BATTLE HYMN:

2019 was a year that saw some metal veterans come back with outstanding new output, like Sacred Reich and New Orleans groove thrashers EXHORDER. Known by some as the band that sounded suspiciously like Pantera before Pantera sounded like Pantera, they’d been defunct for decades, but this year’s ‘Mourn The Southern Skies’ finds them not just having every bit of piss and venom they had when they left, but a maturity that was missing from ‘The Law’ and ‘Slaughter In The Vatican’. This is well worth seeking out if you’re a fan of groove-laden hooks with a little snarling aggression.