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GAME DAY PREVIEW- GAME 71: CANUCKS vs NEW JERSEY

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After dispatching the Rangers, the Devils are next up for the Canucks.

NHL: New Jersey Devils at Vancouver Canucks Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

Vancouver Canucks (29-32-9) vs New Jersey Devils (26-36-9)

Where: Rogers Arena, Vancouver, BC

When: 7:00 pm PST

Where to Watch: SNP

SB Nation Opposition Blog: All About The Jersey

While we try to keep things focused on Canucks-related matters here, I wanted to express our profound sorrow and grief over the incidents in Christchurch, NZ yesterday. If you would like to help those affected, here’s a place that seems to be a good one for making donations that will help: United For Christchurch Mosque Shootings.

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: Before we get on with the task at hand, we’ll tidy up the last remaining bit from Wednesday night’s game against the Rangers. Ever true to form, the Department of Player Safety made their decision regarding Chris Kreider (in case you missed the announcement):

I just cannot fathom how they come to their conclusions. Honestly, it feels like so much time and energy is expended pondering the ludicrous decisions of the so-called DoPS these days. Nothing has changed and nothing ever will change.

Now, back to business. The Canucks are coming off a feel-good win, but one that, like a few others this season, came with a pretty high price tag. They’ve lost Antoine Roussel for the rest of the season, and that’s going to mean more lineup shuffling for tonight and going forward. It’s likely we see Loui Eriksson back in the lineup after being a healthy scratch on Wednesday night.

They face tonight an opponent that has, like the Canucks, been the subject of some pretty bad injury issues this season. After making the playoffs last season on the strength of an MVP campaign from Taylor Hall, the Devils are out of the dance again, and struggling mightily with Hall out of the lineup, along with Nico Hischier, and Sami Vatanen among others.

They’ve also struggled with goaltending, as Keith Kinkaid, Mackenzie Blackwood and former Canucks goalie of the future Cory Schneider haven’t been able to get the job done for the Devils. With Kinkaid back down in the minors, the Devils have been rotating Blackwood and Schneider. Our SBN pals at All About The Jersey suggest it’ll be Blackwood getting the start, but you shouldn’t be surprised if they give Schneids the opportunity to try and beat the team that traded him to New Jersey.

Speaking of goalies of the future, will we see Thatcher Demko tonight? I know that he’ll definitely get a start with the Canucks playing back to back on the road Sunday and Monday in Dallas and Chicago. Jacob Markstrom turned in another strong performance against the Rangers in that 4-1 win Wednesday, but with the Canucks out of the playoff picture it doesn’t make much sense to keep running with Markstrom when Demko needs more playing time.

We haven’t heard the status of Ashton Sautner yet, but the Province has him listed in the probable lineup. Sautner left the game Wednesday in the 3rd period and didn’t return.

CANUCKS’ LINES

LW – C – RW

Josh LeivoElias PetterssonBrock Boeser

Tanner PearsonBo HorvatNikolay Goldobin

Markus GranlundAdam GaudetteJake Virtanen

Loui Eriksson — Jay BeagleTyler Motte

Defence pairings

Alex Edler — Troy Stecher

Guillaume BriseboisAlex Biega

Ashton Sautner — Chris Tanev

Goalies: Jacob Markstrom, Thatcher Demko

DEVILS’ LINES

LW – C – RW

Blake ColemanTravis ZajacStefan Noesen

Kenny AgostinoKevin RooneyKyle Palmieri

John QuennevilleBlake PietilaDrew Stafford

Kurtis GabrielMichael McLeodJoey Anderson

Defence pairings

Andy GreeneDamon Severson

Will ButcherConnor Carrick

Colton WhiteSteven Santini

Goalies: Cory Schneider, Mackenzie Blackwood

SICK BAY

Canucks: Sven Baertschi (post-concussion syndrome), Brandon Sutter (groin), Ben Hutton (foot), Antoine Roussel (knee), Quinn Hughes (ankle), Ryan Spooner (groin).

Devils: Taylor Hall (knee), Nathan Bastian (upper body), Nico Hischier (upper body), Miles Wood (ankle), Mirco Mueller (shoulder), Pavel Zacha (upper body), Sami Vatanen (ill), Egor Yakovlev (upper body), Jesper Bratt (undisclosed).

SPECIAL TEAM

Power play: Canucks: 14.9% (29th), Devils: 18% (19th).

Penalty kill: Canucks: 80.7% (14th), Devils: 83.8% (4th).

To get some more depth on tonight’s opponent, we turned to friend of the blog and noted Devils fan, ESPN.com’s Greg Wyshynski, on what’s been going on with the Devils:

1. When it comes to teams that have been hit hard by injuries, the Canucks and Devils are near the top of the pack. How much of the Devils performance this season has been because of injuries?

When you consider that the reigning MVP has been limited to 33 games this season, yeah, injuries have played a pretty significant role. But losing Taylor Hall speaks ot an even bigger issue with the team this season, which is that they literally have two finishers on the entire roster: Hall and Kyle Palmieri. I have no idea how this team is 19th in offense because it’s such an underwhelming lineup. And the goaltending turned back into a pumpkin at midnight with a .894 team save percentage.

2. While it’s a tad unusual to have a goaltending situation involving Corey Schneider (haha), what’s your take on what the Devils are going to do moving forward and what exactly happened to Schneider since the Canucks sent him there.

I’ve spoken to some people who believe Schneider is cooked, some that believe that his game isn’t built for today’s speedier offensive attacks and some who think he can play out of this. Injuries have obviously subverted a lot of the good things he’s done, but this is a multi-year slide for him, and he’s signed at $6 million annually through 2022. They like MacKenzie Blackwood. I don’t know what they’re going to do next season.

3. With guys like Taylor Hall, Nico Hischier and Sami Vatanen out of the lineup, who are the guys we should be watching tonight?

Blake Coleman is straight up fun to watch. A very “NHL in 2019” player with this speed, and he plays with a tenacity the rest of the team had last season but couldn’t seem to locate this season.

4. The Devils had a pretty good response to the blowout in Calgary by dealing a serious blow to the Oilers Wednesday night. With the playoffs out of reach, do you think it’s better to keep injured guys shut down the rest of the way and let the kids play and audition for roles next season as we’re seeing here in Vancouver?

I don’t want to see a single injured Devil until next September. I want to see more tank than a military parade.

5. And finally, you recently made a big move to the opposite coast. How have you found the adjustment in terms of keeping up to date with the difference in time, and how does an East Coast lifer manage life in California, both in terms of work and personal life? I made the move to Ontario a year and a half ago and it’s a challenge some nights to sit through games that end close to 1 am lol

From a sports perspective, living in the Bay Area is pretty sweet: Hockey starts at 4 p.m., NFL Sundays are now kegs and eggs. I’ve had East Coast writers proclaim their jealousy of this move, which likely means they’ve never had what California considers a bagel. As far as the job goes, ESPN was really cool in allowing this move, and obviously it helps that (a) the Sharks are here and (b) I’ve shown pretty well for the last decade that I can do this thing remotely. Living here means every work day begins in the 6 a.m. hour for news that might break or for radio hits, and so I need to adjust my night owl life a little. Overall, it’s been pretty great. I just hope San Jose goes on a playoff run so I can see my wife and dog more often. So, heal up, Erik.

Thanks so much to Greg for taking the time to talk to us!

GAME DAY BATTLE HYMN: You literally couldn’t find a better example of New Jersey Metal than Overkill. The Old Bridge Township, New Jersey band has been wrecking necks since 1980 and are showing no signs of letting up. They recently released their 19th(!) studio album ‘The Wings Of War’ on Nuclear Blast Records, and have a new video out that is a love song for their home state. Sure, it’s cheesy but they never apologize for being who they are and I respect the hell outta that. I’ve been a big fan of this band for a long time (they were the first band I ever interviewed) so it’s great to see in spite of changing trends, lineup changes and member deaths, and even singer Bobby ‘Blitz’ Ellsworth battling cancer, nothing stops the Wrecking Crew!