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GAME DAY PREVIEW- Game 41: Canucks vs Chicago

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The Canucks hit the halfway mark and look to make it 6 straight wins as the Blackhawks visit Rogers Arena as they play their first game of 2020.

Chicago Blackhawks v Vancouver Canucks

VANCOUVER CANUCKS vs CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS

7:00PM PST ROGERS ARENA, VANCOUVER, BC

TV: SPORTSNET PACIFIC. RADIO: SN650.

OPPOSITION BLOG: SECOND CITY HOCKEY.

I suppose in a way we shouldn’t be surprised that we’re at the halfway mark of this NHL season and it’s still up for debate whether or not the Canucks are good. They’re certainly better than last season, just on record alone. The entertainment level of this team that was hinted at from time to time last season is in full bloom, and there’s been a scant handful of games this season that weren’t particularly thrilling to watch. Overall, this team is still in a state of flux, trending upward and that’s okay. They can miss the postseason this time around and I wouldn’t be particularly upset. Sure, it’s been a long 5 years, but when you can see that good times are around the corner (in spite of themselves, it would sometimes seem), it’s not that difficult to give them the time to do this right. Anything that happens beyond this point is simply gravy when held up against the pap we’ve been served the last few seasons.

Tonight they face a team that’s in a somewhat similar boat to the one the Canucks have been in. The Chicago Blackhawks are trying to rebuild on the fly and deal with an aging core and cap issues, though the way the Hawks have been able to avoid cap disaster over the years is both sickening and impressive. I guess shame on the other teams for not finding so many creative ways to circumvent the cap, but the convenience of ‘illness and injury’ to players locked into what should be crippling deals is certainly curious at best.

The Hawks are struggling a bit but still in the hunt for a wild card slot in the West thanks to a ridiculously tight race, so like most games of late, the Canucks want to ensure they’re not giving away points to conference rivals.

LINEUPS:

Courtesy nhl.com here’s what we should see tonight:

Blackhawks projected lineup

Dominik Kubalik -- Jonathan Toews -- John Quenneville

Dylan Sikura -- Ryan Carpenter -- Patrick Kane

Alex DeBrincat -- Kirby Dach -- Dylan Strome

Zack Smith -- David Kampf -- Matthew Highmore

Duncan Keith -- Adam Boqvist

Erik Gustafsson -- Connor Murphy

Olli Maatta -- Dennis Gilbert

Robin Lehner

Corey Crawford

Scratched: Alex Nylander, Slater Koekkoek

Injured: Drake Caggiula (concussion protocol), Calvin de Haan (right shoulder), Brandon Saad (right ankle), Brent Seabrook (shoulder/ hip), Andrew Shaw (concussion protocol)

Canucks projected lineup

J.T. Miller -- Elias Pettersson -- Brock Boeser

Tanner Pearson -- Bo Horvat -- Loui Eriksson

Antoine Roussel -- Adam Gaudette -- Jake Virtanen

Tyler Motte -- Jay Beagle -- Tim Schaller

Quinn Hughes -- Christopher Tanev

Alexander Edler -- Troy Stecher

Oscar Fantenberg -- Tyler Myers

Jacob Markstrom

Thatcher Demko

Scratched: Zack MacEwen, Jordie Benn

Injured: Josh Leivo (fractured kneecap), Brandon Sutter (upper body), Micheal Ferland (upper body), Tyler Graovac (lower body)

Looks like no changes from Sunday’s game against Calgary for the Canucks, and if you think there’s a lot of unfamiliar names on the Hawks roster right now you would be correct. But there’s still Duncan Keith and Patrick Kane, who should be booed mercilessly even after they leave hockey.

GAME DAY BATTLE HYMN:

How about some old Maiden for ya today? Here’s the band doing ‘Phantom Of The Opera’ on German TV from 1981.