MTS CENTRE, WINNIPEG, MB. 5:00 PM PST
TV: SPORTSNET PACIFIC, RADIO: SPORTSNET 650
OPPOSING BLOG: ARCTIC ICE HOCKEY
There are a couple of Vancouver Canucks players that deserve all of the love and attention right now.
Tyler Motte earns Bill Masterson nomination
The Unsung Hero of the Canucks last season, Tyler Motte has been a revelation in the bottom-six.
Sure, he looks even better because there’s a lot of mediocre forwards in the Canucks lineup on most nights, but the former University of Michigan star has earned his place in the NHL because of his tenacity, occasional offence and penalty killing efforts.
Most importantly, Motte has been vocal about his mental health struggles, and how he’s overcome them recently. That led to the Canucks crowning him as their nominee for the Bill Masterton Trophy.
“He means a lot to our team. I’m proud of him for the player he is and the man he’s become. To have a player on your team willing to speak on mental health is a great thing.” - Coach Green on Tyler Motte’s Masterton nomination— Vancouver #Canucks (@Canucks) May 10, 2021
Jack Rathbone to see “increased opportunity” tonight
Travis Green likes what he’s seen from Jack Rathbone during his first three NHL games.
I have to say...I agree with Green on this one.
During media availability this morning, Green said that he was going to put Rathbone in some different situations tonight. That likely means the rookie will get some power play time, you’d have to imagine.
He’s earned it by holding his own and by making smart passes during his first three NHL games. You can see Olli Juolevi’s opportunity dwindling away with each passing game for Rathbone.
Tyler Graovac battles for NHL ice time
The struggles of an AHL/NHL tweener aren’t something you think about every day.
However, Tyler Graovac brought that to the forefront during media availability last week.
“It’s been a long journey and tested my patience and my personality,” Graovac said last week,” but I couldn’t be more proud of where I am today to push through. I put too much stress on my family. I tell them that every day.
“They’ve been my anchor and my outlet and I’m pretty lucky to have them. When you’re sitting in the press box and watching other players kind of accomplish what you’ve worked your whole life for, it eats you alive. It eats you up inside. And, as much as you want to be a great teammate, it’s been a bit of a struggle mentally.
Ben Kuzma did a decent write-up of Graovac’s situation in The Province. This is a player who understands his role, and what he needs to do to stick in the NHL.
There are a lot of questions regarding who will play centre on the third and fourth lines for the Canucks moving forward. I’m not saying Graovac’s the answer, but it’s nice to see him make the most of his opportunity.
Oh...and there’s a game tonight
Although Jonah Gadjovich is up with the team, it doesn’t look like he will draw in tonight. Instead, Kole Lind will come out of the line-up, while Zack MacEwen draws in.
MacEwen just finished serving a one-game suspension for kneeing Darnell Nurse. While it hasn’t been a great season for the Prince Edward Island native, his only goal of the season did come against the Jets.
Here are the projected lines for tonight’s game.
Nils Hoglander — JT Miller — Brock Boeser
Tanner Pearson — Bo Horvat — Matthew Higmore
Marc Michaelis — Tyler Graovac — Jayce Hawryluk
Jimmy Vesey — Travis Boyd — Zack MacEwen
Quinn Hughes — Travis Hamonic
Alex Edler — Nate Schmidt
Jack Rathbone — Tyler Myers
Demko will get the nod tonight for the Canucks. He hasn’t had much run support against the Jets this season. He has a 2-3 record with a .931 save percentage. His only shutout of the season also came against the Jets on March 1st.
Kyle Connor — Mark Scheifele — Blake Wheeler
Paul Stastny — Pierre Luc-Dubois — Mathieu Perreault
Andrew Copp — Adam Lowry — Mason Appleton
Jansen Harkins — Nate Thompson — Trevor Lewis
Josh Morrissey — Ville Heinola
Derek Forbort — Dylan DeMelo
Logan Stanley — Jordie Benn
B.C. native Laurent Brossoit has dominated the Canucks throughout his NHL career. He has a 4-0 record, along with a 0.71 GAA, a .970 save percentage and two shutouts.
Eric Comrie will back him up. The 25-year-old was Winnipeg’s nominee for the Masterton after being shuttled up and down the waiver wire.
The reason for Connor Hellebuyck’s absence hasn’t been announced, but it could just be a maintenance day.
GAME DAY BATTLE HYMN
Will the end of the season ever come? Doesn’t really feel that way with seven more games to go, all while a handful of teams are already packing up their locker rooms and heading home until next fall.
While you wait for the day that seemingly will never come, rock out to one of my favourite Metallica songs for your game day battle hymn.