Where: Pepsi Center, Denver, CO
When: 7:00 pm PST
Where to Watch: SN, CBC
SB Nation Opposition Blog: Mile High Hockey
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: First, the good news. Not only is the team still healthy (no wacky vacation injuries or cracker-related mishaps to report) and Nikolay Goldobin is back in the lineup tomorrow after sitting out what seems like a few months. On a normal team this would be the big news coming out of the break, but this is the Vancouver Canucks and you know they don’t roll like this, so...
Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you... Death Stare-Gate.
Benning on Pettersson: I think you have to realize, he's a really intense young man and that's what makes him good. He wants to be the best player in the league. He works with our PR people to do better, I guess, in interviews, and not do the death stare. But that's his intensity— TSN Radio Vancouver (@TSN1040) February 1, 2019
I swear to god...
I mean, the Canucks are locked in a battle for a playoff spot, and there’s a number of players that could be potentially dealt as a result of their performance this month, not to mention some pretty big RFA’s to deal with, but sure. Let’s talk about Elias Pettersson and the way he handles the media.
There’s a problem here, and it’s one that has happened before in this game we love. And it has everything to do with players who exhibit a personality. The problem lies in this game’s unwillingness to actually market these players and their uniqueness. Instead of taking this and using it as a way to draw people in, the NHL being the stodgy old bastards they are will go out of their way to stomp it out. They literally want the game to be like the old school table hockey games. Plastic cut out figures, with a sticker you slap on. Each player looking the same, just a number to tell them apart and nothing more. If you’re not concerned about Jim Benning’s comments, that the team is actually trying to get Elias Pettersson to not be himself when dealing with the media, you might want to ask fans of the Montreal Canadiens how they feel the team handled PK Subban and his outspoken manner.
It’s not like EP40 is saying controversial things. It’s not like he’s an abuser, or a racist or something where a team would definitely need to be doing some work with their PR department. Nope, it’s just a young kid with no time for stupid questions. And yeah, nearly every reporter out there’s been guilty of it over their career. We’ve all done it, whether we realized it or not. I love the death stare. It shows a passion that this team has lacked, and please don’t look at this as a knock on the Sedins. It’s not, at all. They were who they were and were always a role model for others in professional sports. But to take a kid who obviously thinks the game at a different level off the ice as well as on it isn’t a reason to clamp down on him. It should serve as a lesson to lazy reporters who need to step their damn game up. Elias breaks ankles. Learn to deal with it or you’ll end up looking like the media version of Mike Matheson.
Now onto the not so good news. Nathan MacKinnon’s healthy again, and that makes the Avs a little tougher to contend with. That top line is a hell of a lot of fun to watch, but not when they’re playing the Canucks. And man do they like to score. The Avs have put up 6 or more 10 times this season, including the last time these teams met. And let’s face it, it’s nice when you can give up 6 and still win a game, but it’s hardly a recipe for success. The Canucks are going to need a big game from Jacob Markstrom tonight, and going to have to be better defensively than we’ve seen. Asking for that seems pretty pointless. It’s like you’ve invented a car that blows up every time you start it, but instead of trying to fix the problem, you just hope that this is the time it doesn’t blow up because it didn’t blow up that one time, it just caught on fire instead.
That being said, the key to the Avs strength is also their weakness. If you can disable their top line, they’re not going to get much else done. Secondary scoring has been an issue for this team all season, and when you add in average at the best of times goaltending, it’s why the Avs find themselves struggling. It would be nice if you could always outscore this problem, but there’s too many teams in the NHL who can handle teams like Colorado defensively. A strong game in front of Markstrom will go a long way.
From the Province, here’s what we should see on the ice tonight:
CANUCKS’ PROJECTED LINEUP
Sven Baertschi — Bo Horvat — Josh Leivo
Nikolay Goldobin — Elias Pettersson — Brock Boeser
Antoine Roussel — Brandon Sutter — Jake Virtanen
Loui Eriksson — Jay Beagle — Tyler Motte
Alex Edler — Chris Tanev
Ben Hutton — Troy Stecher
Derrick Pouliot — Erik Gudbranson
Jacob Markstrom, Thatcher Demko
AVS’ PROJECTED LINEUP
Alex Kerfoot — Nathan MacKinnon — Colin Wilson
Gabriel Landeskog — Carl Soderberg — Mikko Rantanen
Matthew Nieto — Matt Calvert — JT Compher
Sven Andrighetto — Sheldon Dries — Gabriel Bourque
Ian Cole — Samuel Girard
Tyson Barrie — Nikita Zadorov
Ryan Graves — Patrik Nemeth
Semyon Varlamov, Philipp Grubauer
Canucks: No players on injured reserve
Avalanche: Conor Timmins (head, IR), Erik Johnson (concussion, day-to-day), Vladislav Kamenev (shoulder, IR)
Canucks: 21st (16.8%); Avalanche: 5th (25.1%)
Canucks: 20th (79.2%); Avalanche: 27th (76.7%)
GAME DAY BATTLE HYMN: Some old-school speed/thrash for you today. Hailing from Worcester, Massachusetts, you can hear bands like Exciter and Anvil in their sound. This is the first track from their next release ‘Fallout Rituals’, due out in April on Shadow Kingdom Records.