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GAME DAY PREVIEW- GAME SIXTY-FOUR: Canucks vs Buffalo- Mar 20, 2022

Another disappointing first period effort in a must-win game all but closes the book on the Canucks playoff aspirations. No time to dwell, as we prepare for what could be an interesting trade deadline.

Buffalo Sabres v Vancouver Canucks

VANCOUVER CANUCKS (30-26-7) vs BUFFALO SABRES (37-16-8)

ROGERS ARENA, VANCOUVER, BC

7:00PM PST

TV: SPORTSNET PACIFIC. RADIO: SPORTSNET 650

OPPOSING BLOG: DIE BY THE BLADE

The Vancouver Canucks were given a test last night, and failed miserably. With an opportunity to at least stay in the hunt for that final Wild Card slot in the Western Conference, they came out with what might be their worst first period performance of the season (and that’s saying something), as they dropped another must win game to the Calgary Flames last night.

They now sit five points back of the Vegas Golden Knights, with eighteen games remaining in the season. And as they showed last night, making the playoffs isn’t necessarily a victory for them if they’re just going to get their heads caved in the moment they walk in the door, as they’d be facing the Colorado Avalanche in the first round.

So instead, we should look to the future, and the moves that will come tomorrow. It’s almost surely Tyler Motte’s last game as a Canuck, and we could also see guys like Conor Garland and even Tyler Myers shipped out to teams in their pursuit of hockey’s holy grail. The emphasis has to be on draft picks and/or prospects to give this team options to build a contender around. We’ve gone on ad nauseam about the dire state that the Benning regime created, and now is the first opportunity that Patrick Allvin, Jim Rutherford and their staff get at trying to repair the damage.

Buffalo comes in to this game having a pretty strange run so far this month. They’ve beaten Vegas, Minnesota, Calgary and the Leafs twice. The three games they lost? They were outscored 15-2 by their opponents, the most recent loss a 6-1 pasting at the hands of the Edmonton Oilers. They followed that game with a 1-0 OT win in Calgary though. They seem to be enjoying the role of spoiler right now, and would love nothing more than to push the dagger a little deeper on the Canucks.

This is the last game of the seven game homestand, and it’s safe to say that even with a win tonight, it was a disappointing one. It gets even tougher from here, with a brutal four game road trip, and an April schedule that sees them squaring off against Vegas three times in a week and a half. Throw in three more back to backs, and it’s a hill that looks more and more impossible to climb with each passing loss.

And with the news that the Canucks have dealt Travis Hamonic to Ottawa for a 3rd round pick in the 2022 Entry Draft, the lineup is gonna look a little different tonight. Bring on the changes!

LINEUPS

Courtesy of nhl.com, this is what tonight’s disasterpiece could look like. Maybe.

Sabres projected lineup

Jeff SkinnerTage ThompsonAlex Tuch

Peyton KrebsDylan CozensVinnie Hinostroza

Rasmus AsplundCasey MittelstadtVictor Olofsson

Zemgus GirgensonsCody EakinKyle Okposo

Rasmus DahlinHenri Jokiharju

Jacob BrysonColin Miller

Mattias SamuelssonMark Pysyk

Craig Anderson

Dustin Tokarski

Scratched: Anders Bjork, John Hayden

Injured: Will Butcher (lower body), Drake Caggiula (upper body), Casey Fitzgerald (lower body)

Canucks projected lineup

Tanner PearsonJ.T. MillerBrock Boeser

Elias PetterssonBo HorvatConor Garland

Tyler MotteJuho LammikkoMatthew Highmore

Vasily PodkolzinNic PetanAlex Chiasson

Oliver Ekman-LarssonTyler Myers

Quinn HughesLuke Schenn

Brad HuntNoah Juulsen

Thatcher Demko

Jaroslav Halak

Scratched: Sheldon Rempal

Injured: Nils Hoglander (lower body), Jason Dickinson (lower body), Kyle Burroughs (upper body), Tucker Poolman (headaches)

With Hamonic and his $3 Million cap hit gone to Ottawa, that means we’ll see either Juulsen or Poolman in that bottom pairing tonight. As far as who starts, we’ll know close to game time, but given they pulled Thatcher Demko last night, and how important it is for them to get a win tonight, I would expect him to be in.

GAME DAY CHATTER

GAME DAY BATTLE HYMN

Today it’s some old school EXODUS for ya. From their second album ‘Pleasures Of The Flesh’ here’s ‘Chemi-kill’, a very underrated track in this band’s repertoire.

Enjoy the game, everyone! Go Canucks Go! Slava Ukraini!