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.
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
Erik Gustafsson -- Connor Murphy
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
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.