ROGERS ARENA, VANCOUVER, BC
TV: SPORTSNET PACIFIC, TSN 3. RADIO: SPORTSNET 650
OPPOSING BLOG: ARCTIC ICE HOCKEY
While they’ve managed to get back to back wins three separate times so far this season, that third win, and an actual winning streak has been elusive. They could pull it off tonight against a team they’ve already beaten once this season, the Winnipeg Jets.
The Canucks sit eight points back of the Jets right now, and if they want to try and catch up to one of those Western Conference Wild Card spots, they’re going to have to pull it out in regulation and stop handing over points to teams they’re chasing. It’s a big ask to try and make up that much ground at this point of the season, but after a couple solid performances against Los Angeles and Boston, and playing a tired Winnipeg squad who have struggled on the road so far this year, it certainly seems doable.
The Jets won their fourth road game of the season last night, shutting out the Seattle Kraken 3-0. They’re off to a good start for December, with wins over New Jersey and Toronto, their sole loss coming earlier this week at home to Carolina. They’ll be without Neil Pionk, who is currently in concussion protocol after the hit from Jason Spezza in that win over the Leafs on Sunday. Spezza was suspended six games for kneeing Pionk in the head, in what was payback for a dirty knee by Pionk on Rasmus Sandin. Pionk was suspended two games for that hit.
I’m kind of glad Pionk’s out, as he was a bloody menace in that last game, if you recall (Start at the 1:49 mark of this clip).
He spent the rest of the night making threats to Thatcher Demko, apparently.
One of the bright spots as we’ve begun the Bruce Boudreau era in Vancouver has to be Brock Boeser bumping his slump. Boeser, who hadn’t scored in thirteen straight has goals in both Canucks wins this week. Now if they can just get Elias Pettersson going, this whole comeback thing might be more than wishful thinking. It wouldn’t be easy, but they cannot pull it off without a major contribution from their best player.
A key for tonight is to see the slowly improving penalty kill to keep moving in the right direction. With a good night from them and a PP goal or two of their own, they should pass Winnipeg and move out of last place in the PK% rankings in the NHL. That’s a moral victory to get behind.
It’s a good thing the Canucks have been able to string a couple wins together, as it's taken a bit of the glare off the front office turmoil, which has continued today with the termination of Assistant GM Chris Gear and Executive Director of Hockey Operations Jonathan Wall. As new President and Interim GM Jim Rutherford makes his way to Vancouver on Monday, I am sure there will be a few more announcements, as the new guy brings in his guys and tells guys from the old guy(s) that their services are no longer needed.
Courtesy of nhl.com this is a possible lineup scenario for tonight. Maybe.
Jets projected lineup
Scratched: Ville Heinola
Injured: Neal Pionk (concussion protocol)
Canucks projected lineup
If you thought the defence was worrisome before, try it on with both OEL and Hamonic out of the lineup. That’s going to see veteran Brad Hunt slotting in, and being paired with Kyle Burroughs. Funnily, that’s the second scariest pairing of the three. Former Jets Poolman and Myers better have their finest nights of the season tonight or it could be a long one.
They have called up Noah Juulsen from Abbotsford, as it looks like Hamonic could be out for 2-3 weeks. OEL should be back next week though.
With Connor Hellebuyck getting last night’s win in Seattle, the Jets will likely go with Eric Comrie tonight. Comrie was in for the last meeting between these teams. It’s surely going to be Thatcher Demko again tonight for the Canucks. I would imagine we don’t see Jaroslav Halak until next Sunday when the Canucks play the tail end of a back to back against the Arizona Coyotes.
GAME DAY CHATTER
"I've known Jim for 45 years, we were teammates in Toronto. I keep reminding him I scored my first goal against him."— Vancouver #Canucks (@Canucks) December 10, 2021
️ Bruce Boudreau on his relationship with Jim Rutherford#Canucks | @TheProvince pic.twitter.com/4ldGJxkRKT
GAME DAY BATTLE HYMN
With the news of the passing of Mike Nesmith of the Monkees, I decided to dig around and find a metal cover of a Monkees tune. TROUBLE did this fantastic version of ‘Porpoise Song’ on the ‘Plastic Green Head’ album. Nesmith was hands down the best part of that whole project. In a ‘band’ created to be a Beatles knockoff that didn’t really play their instruments, Nesmith was an underrated musician with a fantastic set of comedic acting chops. RIP.
And before the game, here’s a great episode that features the classic song ‘Your Auntie Grizelda’. Just watch it. Life’s short, there’s more to it than this damn hockey team. Don’t forget to find things that make you laugh.