ROGERS ARENA- VANCOUVER, BC
TV: SPORTSNET PACIFIC, TSN2. RADIO: SPORTSNET 650
OPPOSING BLOG: HABS EYES ON THE PRIZE
316 days. That’s how long it’s been since the Vancouver Canucks played at Rogers Arena. And while they acquitted themselves well in the playoffs last summer, they’re not exactly inspiring confidence right now. And while normally we’d trot out “Maybe what they need is to be at home and get pumped up in front of the home town crowd”, but you have to wonder if it’s really a factor in this era of empty arenas and canned fan noise. The advantage is the shorter change at the benches for two periods and not much more.
They arrive at home to face an opponent that they’ve always struggled against, especially the last few years in the Montreal Canadiens. Perhaps if there’s a bright side to the lack of fans, it’s that this time Rogers Arena isn’t filled with Habs fans who bought their tickets off season ticket holders eager to make a profit. No ‘Go Habs Go!’ chants tonight, thank dog.
That doesn’t mean it’s an easy one, as the Canadiens look good so far this season, and the Canucks will once again have to try and find a way to beat a goaltender who’s really had their number: Carey Price. They’re in the process of rebuilding, much like our Canucks, and have some young talent in the form of Nick Suzuki, Jesperi Kotkaniemi, Arturi Lehkonen and lets not forget there’s also that Tyler Tofolli guy in their lineup, too. Solid on defence, getting better up front, the Habs are making strides towards becoming a contender again. I suppose we can hope they start Jake Allen instead?
It’s also going to be the first real test of the new schedule’s quirks in that they’re going to play against each other in three straight games. Is it going to create a playoff-like level of intensity and dislike?
Courtesy of nhl.com, here’s what we can expect these teams to roll with tonight:
Canadiens projected lineup
Tomas Tatar — Phillip Danault — Brendan Gallagher
Jonathan Drouin — Nick Suzuki — Josh Anderson
Joel Armia — Jesperi Kotkaniemi — Tyler Toffoli
Artturi Lehkonen — Jake Evans — Paul Byron
Ben Chiarot — Shea Weber
Joel Edmundson — Jeff Petry
Brett Kulak — Alexander Romanov
Scratched: Victor Mete
Canucks projected lineup
J.T. Miller — Elias Pettersson — Brock Boeser
Tanner Pearson — Bo Horvat — Nils Hoglander
Antoine Roussel — Adam Gaudette — Jake Virtanen
Tyler Motte — Jay Beagle — Brandon Sutter
Alexander Edler — Jalen Chatfield
Quinn Hughes — Travis Hamonic
Nate Schmidt — Tyler Myers
Scratched: Olli Juolevi, Zack MacEwen, Jordie Benn
Injured: Jayce Hawryluk (undisclosed), Micheal Ferland (head)
So, two changes here. Olli Juolevi is a healthy scratch as Jalen Chatfield will get his first start this season. Also, Jordie Benn is listed as a scratch and is off the COVID-19 Protocol list. Disappointed that a bigger message isn’t being sent to guys like Beagle and Sutter, but you can bet there will be more shuffling if the losing continues.
As expected, it will be Braden Holtby vs Carey Price in net tonight. This will be Holtby’s first home start as a Canuck (obviously) and he will be debuting his new mask that was created by a local indigenous artist.
GAME DAY CHATTER
Coach Green talks Chatfield, Benn, facing adversity, minutes for defencemen and matching up with Montreal for tonight's home opener. pic.twitter.com/BkYyh0tB4X— Vancouver #Canucks (@Canucks) January 20, 2021
"Montreal has got off to a good start. We need to bounce back from a disappointing road trip and get a win." - Bo Horvat pic.twitter.com/39I62mLi5W— Vancouver #Canucks (@Canucks) January 20, 2021
"I feel good. It's great to be back and see the guys." Jordie Benn speaks with reporters about returning from the COVID-19 list and his experience with the virus. pic.twitter.com/vGkNBxWjC0— Vancouver #Canucks (@Canucks) January 20, 2021
GAME DAY BATTLE HYMN
I don’t play as much hardcore in this section as I would like to, so today I’ve got something short, sweet and loud as hell from Vitamin X. It’s a kickass animated video as well, so crank this and get in the right mindset for tonight.