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GAME DAY PREVIEW- GAME 79: CANUCKS vs DALLAS

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Hey, it’s that team that cheated last time they played the Canucks!

NHL: Dallas Stars at Vancouver Canucks Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

Vancouver Canucks (32-35-10) vs Dallas Stars (41-31-6)

Where: Rogers Arena, Vancouver, BC

When: 7:00 pm PST

Where to Watch: CBC, SN360, SNP

SB Nation Opposition Blog: Defending Big D

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: It was a fairly unusual situation Thursday night. Canucks fans found themselves trying to wrap their heads around Quinn Hughes making his much anticipated NHL debut and being everything that we had hoped he would be. It’s not something those that follow this team are used to, honestly.

Hughes played a solid game, showcased his intelligence, composure and skating ability, even pulling off a highlight reel play that garnered him his first NHL point. In a way it’s probably even better that he didn’t score, saving it for a nationally televised game, because apparently some people just aren’t happy that a franchise outside of the Center Of The Universe might have something good (again) and are back on their bullshit.

Seriously, we’re all embarrassed for these people. It doesn’t matter if this is what they truly believe or are just talking out of their collective asses to drive clicks/listens. Some things don’t have to do with the Leafs. The sooner you realize that and focus on your own flawed team, the better off we’ll all be. Clown shoes, man...

Anyway, back to actual important things, right? Thursday night’s game showed us that Hughes is definitely NHL ready. He was solid on pretty much every shift, made smart decisions when he had the puck and when he did cross the red line with the puck looked dangerous. That OT shift with Brock Boeser and Elias Pettersson was nearly magical.

The strong performance from Hughes and his partner Luke Schenn seemed to have a ripple effect on the rest of the defence. It certainly felt like there were less cringe-worthy defensive moments in that game, and it also allowed for a low-key solid night from Thatcher Demko.

One other thing that Quinn Hughes’ arrival could do is take some of the pressure off of Elias Pettersson. He’s been fighting the puck a lot, and while it’s hardly anything to worry about, maybe getting Travis Green to play him more with Hughes and Schenn could take some of the defensive attention off Petey and free him up. Either that or it leaves Boeser and Hughes to create some magic. If they want this, make them work for it.

As far as lineups go, we’ll know more after the morning skate but we should see pretty much the same, apart from the Canucks likely going back to Jacob Markstrom, though I feel that with his strong play Demko certainly earned the start tonight. I think developmentally it’s important for him to get more games in, and we need to see what he can do to string a few together in the short time they have left this season. Lineups will be posted as soon as we get them.

This is a big game for Dallas, as they look to get a stranglehold on that Wild Card spot. Colorado moved to within 3 of Dallas, and Arizona sits 6 back, and are likely the only team left that could catch the Stars. Should the Canucks play spoilers tonight, that sets up a pretty big game on Sunday where Arizona takes on Minnesota. The Wild sit one point back of the Coyotes. The Stars don’t play again until Tuesday when they host Philadelphia, and then again Friday in Chicago.

UPDATE: Jake Virtanen was not on the ice for the morning skate. Sven Baertschi is back in tonight after sitting out on Thursday with an illness.

Ben Bishop will be a game time decision for the Stars after suffering an injury in their last game. Via the Province here’s what we should see tonight.

CANUCKS LINES (UPDATED)

LW C RW

Tanner Pearson Bo Horvat Loui Eriksson

Sven Baertschi Elias Pettersson Brock Boeser

Ryan Spooner Adam Gaudette Josh Leivo

Tim Schaller Jay Beagle Markus Granlund

Defence pairings

Alex Edler Alex Biega

Ben Hutton Troy Stecher

Quinn Hughes Luke Schenn

Goalie: Jacob Markstrom

STARS LINES

LW C RW

Mattias Janmark Tyler Seguin Alex Radulov

Jamie Benn Roope Hintz Jason Dickinson

Andrew Cogliano Radek Faksa Blake Comeau

Valleri Nichushkin Joel L’esperance Brett Ritchie

Defence pairings

Esa Lindell John Klingberg

Miro Heiskanen Roman Polak

Taylor Fedun Ben Lovejoy

Goalies: Ben Bishop, Anton Khudobin

SICK BAY

Canucks: Brandon Sutter (hernia) Antoine Roussel (knee), Chris Tanev (foot)

Stars: Marc Methot (knee), Stephen Johns (head), Martin Hanzal (back), Tyler Pitlick (wrist), Mats Zuccarello (arm)

SPECIAL TEAMS

Power play:

Canucks: 16.3% (26th)

Stars: 20.4% (14th)

Penalty kill:

Canucks: 81.0% (10th)

Stars: 82.2% (5th)

GAME DAY BATTLE HYMN: Anyone who’s been putting up with this section of my articles over the years know my weakness for Swedish death/thrash metal. There’s been a lot of big bands over the years, but some slip under the radar, criminally unnoticed. Dimension Zero is definitely one of those bands. Featuring members of In Flames, Marduk and Liars In Wait, their 2002 album ‘Silent Night Fever’ holds up against any album out of that incredible Gothenburg scene from the early 2000’s. Here’s the title track and my personal favorite from that album, ‘The Murder Inn’.