VANCOUVER CANUCKS (6-8-0) vs TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS (8-2-1)
SCOTIABANK ARENA- TORONTO, ON
TV: CBC SPORTSNET, CITY, TVAS, NHL NETWORK (US). RADIO: SPORTSNET 650
OPPOSING BLOG: PENSION PLAN PUPPETS
The break point is coming. It has to be. Having surpassed the quarter mark for the season, this is not where the Canucks should be, based on what we were told by management. Of course, anyone with a basic understanding of their situation that wasn’t being deliberately dishonest about it knew that this was going to happen. The real problem is that we didn’t think it was going to be this bad.
Even during the dark early days of Jim Benning’s reign, when we had to endure Jayson Megna and Joseph Cramarossa and other future Hall of Famers, did we see the Canucks getting absolutely owned the way they have this season. And I think that the most demoralizing part of it all, is that it’s not just because of the usual suspects: It’s that the team’s best players are getting absolutely dominated in 5 on 5 play. This team is absolutely awful defensively. Changing systems might address some of these issues, particularly with the elite players of the team. But they simply do not have the horses to compete, and this comes after being told by Benning in the off-season that his top priorities were addressing the back end and goaltending.
We’re in Year 7 and after a small step forward, we are being told that maybe we’re going to have to take a step back and that should be okay. At what point is the club’s ownership going to realize that the next forward step isn’t coming? Any cap relief that comes from some of these atrocious deals finally expiring will be eaten up giving Elias Pettersson and Quinn Hughes the long term deals they have earned. And we’ll still be in exactly the same situation. No money or space to bring in better players to help.
The Canucks got rag dolled by the Leafs Thursday night, and now they’re getting desperate to try and stop the bleeding. How desperate? Activating Loui Eriksson from the taxi squad desperate. In one way, it might be a good mood, because for all the flaws in Eriksson’s game, he’s at least defensively responsible. And maybe it sends a message? Either way, there’s not much they can do besides completely alter the way they’ve played this season that’s going to result in a decision that differs from the one we saw Thursday.
From nhl.com, here’s what we should see on the ice tonight:
Canucks projected lineup
J.T. Miller — Elias Pettersson — Brock Boeser
Tanner Pearson — Bo Horvat — Loui Eriksson
Nils Hoglander — Brandon Sutter — Justin Bailey
Tyler Motte — Jay Beagle — Antoine Roussel
Quinn Hughes — Jordie Benn
Nate Schmidt — Tyler Myers
Alexander Edler — Jalen Chatfield
Scratched: Zack MacEwen, Jake Virtanen, Adam Gaudette, Olli Juolevi
Injured: Micheal Ferland (upper body), Jayce Hawryluk (undisclosed), Travis Hamonic (upper body)
Maple Leafs projected lineup
Zach Hyman — Auston Matthews — Mitchell Marner
Wayne Simmonds — John Tavares — William Nylander
Jimmy Vesey — Alexander Kerfoot — Ilya Mikheyev
Nic Petan — Travis Boyd — Jason Spezza
Morgan Rielly — TJ Brodie
Jake Muzzin — Justin Holl
Mikko Lehtonen — Zach Bogosian
Scratched: Rasmus Sandin, Alexander Barabanov, Pierre Engvall, Adam Brooks
Injured: Nicholas Robertson (lower body), Joe Thornton (upper body), Jack Campbell (lower body), Travis Dermott (charley horse)
TRANSACTION: #Canucks recall Bailey, loan Juolevi to the squad— Canucks PR (@CanucksPR) February 6, 2021
Yeah, while it probably isn’t going to hurt the Canucks defensively to insert Loui Eriksson into the lineup, the optics of bumping Nils Hoglander down to play on Brandon Sutter’s line after how he’s performed with Bo Horvat and Tanner Pearson is odd at best. The Leafs Dermott was injured Thursday night, and is being replaced by Lehtonen.
GAME DAY CHATTER
"Keeping team morale up when things aren't going our way is important, especially in these trying times with extra safety protocols." - Coach Green pic.twitter.com/2s6jJAiTlN— Vancouver #Canucks (@Canucks) February 6, 2021
"We know the way we have been playing is unacceptable. We all need to work together and communicate. It starts in the defensive end." - Brock Boeser pic.twitter.com/RXLYUMoHn1— Vancouver #Canucks (@Canucks) February 6, 2021
"We have to stay positive around the locker room." Elias Pettersson discusses what the #Canucks must do to get back on track tonight in Toronto. pic.twitter.com/WtzSFLEw0U— Vancouver #Canucks (@Canucks) February 6, 2021
They’re saying the right things, at least. But that top line, which was far better defensively last season than we’ve seen so far this season, has to lead the way if the Canucks want a hope of stopping this losing streak.
GAME DAY BATTLE HYMN
Nothing makes sense anymore. This is the soundtrack.