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The good news is the Canucks can’t drop a spot in the standings tonight. The bad news is they’re not likely to move up, either.

NHL: New York Islanders at Vancouver Canucks Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

Vancouver Canucks (26-27-8) vs New York Islanders (35-18-7)

Where: Rogers Arena, Vancouver, BC

When: 7:00 pm PST

Where to Watch: Sportsnet Pacific, City TV (**Note, this means it’s NOT on CBC so don’t complain later when you can’t find it!**)

SB Nation Opposition Blog: Lighthouse Hockey

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: First things first. This team cannot play a game like the one they did against Arizona Thursday night or they are going to get utterly embarrassed in their own rink. Again. The question I had after the loss to the Coyotes was: how will the Canucks address another night where they couldn’t get enough goal scoring to support another fabulous performance from Jacob Markstrom. Well, it looks like getting one of their top 5 scorers out of the press box and back into the lineup is one way they’ll tackle that issue.

Secondly, they need to do something about the power play. It’s painful to watch, especially with Pettersson and Boeser out there not being able to get anything meaningful accomplished. So they’re mixing this up as well.

How bad is the PP lately? This bad:

Alexander Edler was skating today, and was an extra D along with Luke Schenn. Thatcher Demko also took part in the full morning skate, a sign he’s getting close to returning to the lineup.

Now, for those of you clutching onto faint hopes and all that, this afternoon features some games to keep an eye on. The St Louis Blues are taking on Boston at 1PM, Dallas hosts Carolina and Los Angeles visits the Panthers at 2PM, while Colorado is in Nashville at 2:30. The other game tonight is the Edmonton Oilers who are without Connor McDavid are taking on the Anaheim Ducks. McDavid is missing the first of his two game suspension for being a dirty head-shot doling piece of garbage. I would take joy in this suspension if it didn’t help the Oilers and their chances of getting another bloody first overall pick in the draft lottery.

Tonight’s opponent has to be the true surprise of the season. Many had predicted doom and gloom for the Islanders when John Tavares left to play in Toronto, but the Isles have put together a pretty fine campaign without him, thank you very much. And while it might be easy to give all the credit to new head coach Barry Trotz, this is still a team that has Mathew Barzal in the lineup. After that though, it’s not exactly superstars, but a bunch of solid pieces playing all season like they’ve got something to prove.

Another reason for their success has been the goaltending duo of Thomas Greiss and Robin Lehner. Both castoffs from other teams, and both have been putting together career seasons in leading the Isles to first place in the Metropolitan Division. Lehner’s story is particularly inspiring, battling back from ADHD, PTSD and Bipolar Disorder, substance abuse issues to become one of the top goalies in the NHL is nothing short of amazing.

The Tampa Bay Lightning are still the team to beat, but the Isles might be that darkhorse pick you’re looking for if you want a team to root for in the East.

Here’s the lineups we can expect tonight via The Province:


LW – C – RW

Ryan SpoonerElias PetterssonBrock Boeser

Josh LeivoBo HorvatTyler Motte

Antoine RousselAdam GaudetteMarkus Granlund

Loui ErikssonJay BeagleTim Schaller

Defence pairings

Ben HuttonTroy Stecher

Derrick PouliotAlex Biega

Ashton SautnerErik Gudbranson

Goalies: Jacob Markstrom, Marek Mazanec


LW – C – RW

Anders LeeBrock NelsonJordan Eberle

Tom Kuhnhackl — Mathew Barzal — Josh Bailey

Anthony BeauvillierValtteri FilppulaLeo Komarov

Matt MartinCasey CizikasCal Clutterbuck

Defence pairings

Nick LeddyJohnny Boychuk

Adam PelechRyan Pulock

Devon ToewsScott Mayfield

Goalies: Robin Lehner, Thomas Greiss


Canucks: Sven Baertschi (post-concussion syndrome), Thatcher Demko (knee), Alex Edler (concussion), Brandon Sutter (groin), Chris Tanev (ankle), Jake Virtanen (ribs)

Islanders: None


Power play

Canucks: 15.5% (26th)

Islanders: 17% (24th)

Penalty kill

Canucks: 80% (18th)

Islanders: 79.9% (20th)

Don’t let the above fool you. Goldobin should be in tonight given the workout with the PP units. And if that means that there’s no Tim Schaller tonight, even better. I’m totally cool with dispatching him to Utica, because there’s no one in the lineup that he’s a better option for. And if they lose him on waivers? All good. Take the L and move on, Jim.

Here’s to the Canucks keeping it close and hopefully the last game of Erik Gudbranson in Blue and Green.

GAME DAY BATTLE HYMN: Just gonna leave this one from Death Ray Vision here...