Oh Canucks, never change.
Tonight, the Vancouver Canucks take on the Florida Panthers at Rogers Arena. Before the game starts, the Canucks plan on honouring Henrik Sedin, Daniel Sedin, and Roberto Luongo for their recent inductions into the Hockey Hall of Fame.
A noble plan, indeed. But of course, the Canucks decide to add some drama to the festivities with yesterday’s announcement that Luongo will enter the team’s Ring of Honour — as opposed to having his jersey retired by the team.
And, for a little extra flair of drama, the Canucks deleted their initial tweet about the Ring of Honour announcement after a rash of negative comments — only to repost the initial tweet mere minutes later.
There’s an argument to be made either way about how the Canucks should honour Luongo’s legacy, but the majority of fans seem to believe that a jersey retirement is what should happen.
What a world.
Before we unpack tonight’s game, what do you think?
Should the Canucks retire Roberto Luongo’s jersey?
This poll is closed
Right, the game...
Yes, in spite of the jersey drama, the Canucks do play a hockey game tonight.
Florida Panthers (10-9-4) vs. Vancouver Canucks (9-10-3)
Rogers Arena, Vancouver BC, 7:00 pm
TV: SN Pacific /// Radio: SN 650
Opposition Blog: Litter Box Cats
Both teams were touched in four-goal losses during their last respective contests.
Jimmi’s recap about the Canucks’ 5-1 drubbing at the hands of the Capitals might cheer you up, but the game itself was a disappointing microcosm of the Canucks season as a whole.
Anytime the pressure is off, the Canucks tend to succeed.
Games against Vegas and Colorado on the road when no one expects you to win? The Canucks show up.
Second night of a back-to-back against the Sharks after an emotional win against Vegas? Chock that one up in the win column as well.
But, when the pressure is on, the Canucks tend to crumble.
They began the season with expectations of making the playoffs, only to lose a franchise-record seven straight games to start the season.
When they picked up some momentum and faced a hot New Jersey Devils team, they fell flat.
And, against the Capitals on Tuesday night, when they had a chance to reach .500 for the first time this season, they stunk up the joint.
Now, they face a similarly desperate Florida Panthers team that just got smoked 6-2 by the Calgary Flames during their last contest. In total, the Panthers have lost six of their last seven games (1-4-2).
Much like the Capitals, you can bet that Florida is going to play desperate and hard against a Canucks team that is, well, easy to push around and score on.
Can the Canucks, much like they did on Kevin Bieksa night, find an extra gear with three franchise legends being honoured prior to puck drop?
The Canucks did shake up their lines at practice on Wednesday.
Here’s what they rolled out.
JT Miller — Bo Horvat — Brock Boeser
Andrei Kuzmenko — Elias Pettersson — Ilya Mikheyev
Nils Hoglander — Sheldon Dries — Conor Garland
Dakota Joshua — Nils Aman — Curtis Lazar
Oliver Ekman-Larsson — Ethan Bear
Quinn Hughes — Luke Schenn
Riley Stillman — Tyler Myers
Projected Starter: Thatcher Demko
Backup: Spencer Martin
Scratched: Phil Di Giuseppe, Kyle Burroughs
Injured: Tucker Poolman (LTIR), Travis Dermott (LTIR), Tanner Pearson (hand), Jack Studnicka (lower body)
So Hoglander has played well during the past few games. Of course, he’s rewarded with a demotion to the third line.
The line of Miller, Horvat and Boeser also struggled immensely against the Vegas Golden Knights at Rogers Arena last Monday, as they were on the ice for multiple goals against.
Carter Verhaeghe — Sam Bennett — Matthew Tkachuk
Nick Cousins — Anton Lundell — Sam Reinhart
Aleksi Heponiemi — Eetu Luostarinen — Colin White
Ryan Lomberg — Eric Staal — Patric Hornqvist
Gustav Forsling — Aaron Ekblad
Marc Staal — Brandon Montour
Josh Mahura — Radko Gudas
Projected Starter: Spencer Knight
Backup: Sergei Bobrovsky
Injured: Aleksander Barkov (illness), Anthony Duclair (Achilles)
The Canucks are catching a break tonight, with Panthers star centre Aleksandar Barkov absent from the lineup. There seems to be a bit of concern with him because Barkov has been dealing with the illness for nearly two weeks. He first missed a game against the Dallas Stars on November 17th, came back for three games, and now is on the verge of missing his fourth game in a row tonight because of the “illness.”
Barkov has 18 points in 19 games for the Panthers this season.
In net, Spencer Knight will assuredly start after Sergei Bobrovsky was torched for six goals against during the Panthers last contest against the Flames.
While the Panthers have a mediocre record, they are firing a league-high 39.4 shots on net. That’s not good news for a Canucks team that ranks 26th in shots against (33.2/game) and 30th in goals against (3.78/game).
GAME DAY BATTLE HYMN
The Canucks are going to have to play with a little rage to quell the shot-happy Panthers.
Enjoy the game, folks.