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GAME DAY PREVIEW- GAME 70: CANUCKS vs NEW YORK RANGERS

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Before you get all excited, there’s not going to be any Quinn Hughes tonight.

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

Vancouver Canucks (28-32-9) vs New York Rangers (28-28-13)

Where: Rogers Arena, Vancouver, BC

When: 7:00 pm PST

Where to Watch: SNP

SB Nation Opposition Blog: Blueshirt Banter

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: First off, Happy Anniversary, everyone!!!

So this should add some much needed energy to this game, amirite? Yeah, this one’s likely gonna suck. So how exactly does one keep themselves interested until the Canucks get Quinn Hughes into the lineup? Well, they can put out videos to build up excitement, like this:

Another way they can keep a buzz going? There’s this guy on the Canucks named Elias Pettersson. He’s been a little quiet of late, but let’s be honest: he’s due for a breakout on a big way. He needs just 3 points to tie Pavel Bure’s Canucks rookie points record. And I have a feeling that getting the opportunity do achieve this against fellow countryman and handsome fellow Henrik Lundqvist might be a pretty large motivator.

The Canucks have been... not good against Lundqvist. Much like their struggles against Carey Price, the Rangers goalie is 9-1-0 in his last 10 against Vancouver. That being said, this Rangers team is not nearly as good as the ones that have been beating the Canucks over the last few seasons.

TANKWATCH 2019: Good news for those holding out hope of a Hughes Brothers revolution! Last night, the Anaheim Ducks handed the Nashville Predators a 3-2 loss, and are now tied in points with the Canucks. Our boys hold 2 games in hand, and will use one of those tonight. The other surprise from last night was the Arizona Coyotes pulling to the last Wild Card spot with a 3-1 win over the St Louis Blues. There’s still a lot of hockey left to be played, but it’s remarkable that the Coyotes have managed to get this far. It’s not as impressive as they think it is, because holy shit the Western Conference is so bad and that is the largest factor in their rise from the basement (they are still a .500 hockey club), but for any of you wanting to blame the Canucks’ fortunes on injuries, the Coyotes kill that argument dead. The Canucks are bad because they’re bad. We’re gonna be discussing that a lot in the coming weeks, but we’ll leave it at that for now. Two Tankwatch games in addition to the Canucks tonight see the Maple Leafs taking on the Chicago Blackhawks (if you’re watching, make sure to tune in early for the latest pregame hug-fest/ceremony because their feelings have been hurt. Again.) and the Edmonton Oilers are hosting the team that’s here Friday: the New Jersey Devils.

It’s Hockey Is For Everyone night at Rogers Arena. The Canucks will be wearing special rainbow jerseys in the pregame warmup (and those will be auctioned off as always), and it means two things. First, it’s a positive thing that the league does with all it’s teams to let all hockey fans know that they are welcome. There’s no requirement to being a hockey fan. Are you a human being? Great. Enjoy hockey. The timing of this is pretty good, with the Morgan Reilly incident on Monday night. Here’s what I think about all of this: I am happy that it turned out to be incorrect. It’s easy to understand why the people who heard it first thought it sounded like a slur. It took some effort to determine it wasn’t, but in the end that seems to be what really happened. I also think that the way the Leafs, and especially Reilly and GM Kyle Dubas handled this was absolutely perfect. They came out and stated flat out that Reilly and the Leafs were not victims of some slanderous attack, like so many of the outraged chuds on Twitter had argled and bargled. They also reaffirmed their commitment to the Hockey is For Everyone movement.

The other thing is that this day shows, by the comments sections on social media posts by the Canucks in advance of this, exactly why it’s necessary to have these kinds of events. It’s 2019. If you’re still somehow complaining about the inclusion of LGBTQ+ people in anything, you’re on the wrong side of history. You’re just wrong. The NHL may often shoot themselves in the foot, and there’s still a ton of work to be done in these fields, but any step forward is a positive. It’s like the You Can Play people say. It doesn’t matter what your sexuality is. It doesn’t matter what race, creed or religion you are. If you can play, you can play. And that goes double for fans.

Two struggling teams facing each other, how could you resist this game? One thing to watch the rest of the way for the Canucks is how many of the kids end up making their way into the lineup to audition for roles next year. With the Canucks announcing yesterday that they’d signed 24 year old Josh Teves to a one year deal. Teves, who just finished a 4 year stint with the Princeton Tigers, played one season in the BCHL with the Merritt Centennials. He’s been sent to Vancouver and we could see him in the lineup as soon as Friday, so rejoice, Derrick Pouliot ‘fans’. The end is nigh.

Christopher Tanev could return to the lineup tonight. He’s been out for a while now (because he’s broken) and that could be a boost for the Canucks. Here’s what we can expect for tonight (via the Province):

Canucks’ game day lines

LW C RW

Josh Leivo — Elias Pettersson — Brock Boeser

Antoine RousselBo HorvatTanner Pearson

Markus GranlundAdam GaudetteJake Virtanen

Loui ErikssonJay BeagleTyler Motte

Defence pairings

Alex Edler — Alex Biega

Guillaume BriseboisTroy Stecher

Ashton Sautner — Chris Tanev

Goalies: Jacob Markstrom, Thatcher Demko

Rangers’ game day lines

LW C RW

Vlad Namestnikov — Mike Zibanejad — Filip Chytil

Chris KreiderRyan StromeJesper Fast

Brendan Lemieus — Brett HowdenPavel Buchnevich

Jimmy VeseyBoo NievesConnor Brickley

Defence pairings

Marc StaalBrady Skjei

Brendan SmithKevin Shattenkirk

Fredrik ClaessonNeal Pionk

Goalies: Alexandar Georgiev, Henrik Lundqvist

Sick bay

Canucks: Sven Baertschi (post-concussion syndrome), Brandon Sutter (groin), Ben Hutton (foot)

Rangers: Libor Hajek (shoulder)

Special teams

Power play: Canucks: 14.8% (29th), Rangers: 19.3% (17th)

Penalty kill: Canucks: 80.8% (13th), Rangers: 78.3% (25th)

GAME DAY BATTLE HYMN: I had a good chuckle at the Canucks FB page, all of the harumpfers decrying the team “bringing politics into sports!!1!!”. It’s weird how none of them are complaining when they and other teams are honoring those who serve in the military. Or any of the other special causes and tributes to factions of the community (Diwali night, Chinese New Year, etc) along with numerous special causes. Hockey’s for everyone and the sooner you realize that, you can get back to enjoying the game. In the meantime, here’s a political song dedicated to all the racist, sexist, homophobic and xenophobic assholes out there. Get bent.