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GAME DAY PREVIEW- GAME SIXTY-FIVE: Canucks @ Colorado- Mar 23, 2022

Do or die time starts tonight, as the Canucks try to take on the West’s best in a desperate attempt to keep their playoff dreams alive.

Vancouver Canucks v Colorado Avalanche Photo by Michael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images

VANCOUVER CANUCKS (30-26-8) vs COLORADO AVALANCHE (45-13-5)

BALL ARENA, DENVER, CO

6:30PM PST

TV: SN1, SPORTSNET PACIFIC. RADIO: SPORTSNET 650

OPPOSING BLOG: MILE HIGH HOCKEY

It’s not looking good, kids. Going up against a Colorado team that could very well be the ones who hoist the Cup in late June/early July, sitting five points back of the last playoff spot, and a number of tough teams to play over the next couple weeks. This is where we see exactly where the Canucks are in terms of competitiveness and readiness to step to the next level. We have our hunches, but we’ve been surprised before.

And a win tonight will be a major surprise. After all, this is the team that has already beaten the Canucks by a combined score of 11-3 in their two previous meetings so far this season, one of them an embarrassing 7-1 thrashing. Add in that Colorado has just three regulation losses on home ice this season, and it’s a pretty bleak scenario for Vancouver as they try to catch Dallas for that final Wild Card slot and a first round date with... the Colorado Avalanche.

With a back to back (and a must win pair of games they are) tonight the pressure is squarely on Jaroslav Halak. While it’s a fair thing to say the team hasn’t always performed great in front of him, his season has been plagued with games where his inability to make a key save when called upon has led to losses. He absolutely needs to be the best player on the ice tonight for the Canucks, because with Thatcher Demko already slated for tomorrow night in Minnesota, this game is all on Halak, no matter how bad it gets.

Much like the recent games against teams like Tampa Bay, the key for the Canucks is going to be trying to control the damage as much as possible. Colorado have so many different weapons at their disposal, Vancouver can’t have any passengers tonight when it comes to defensive play. Staying out of the penalty box and taking full advantage of any errors that the Avs make will go a long way, but given the way they’ve played against Colorado so far this season, I’m not entirely hopeful.

LINEUPS

Courtesy of nhl.com, this is an estimate of what tonight’s disasterpiece will look like:

Canucks projected lineup

Tanner PearsonJ.T. MillerConor Garland

Elias PetterssonBo HorvatBrock Boeser

Juho LammikkoBrad RichardsonMatthew Highmore

Vasily PodkolzinNic PetanAlex Chiasson

Oliver Ekman-LarssonTyler Myers

Quinn HughesLuke Schenn

Travis DermottBrad Hunt

Jaroslav Halak

Thatcher Demko

Scratched: None

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

Avalanche projected lineup

Valeri NichushkinNathan MacKinnonMikko Rantanen

Andre BurakovskyNazem KadriLogan O’Connor

Alex NewhookNico SturmJ.T. Compher

Andrew CoglianoDarren HelmNicolas Aube-Kubel

Devon ToewsCale Makar

Jack JohnsonJosh Manson

Kurtis MacDermidErik Johnson

Darcy Kuemper

Pavel Francouz

Scratched: Artturi Lehkonen, Bowen Byram

Injured: Ryan Murray (upper body), Samuel Girard (lower body), Gabriel Landeskog (knee surgery)

Travis Dermott and Brad Richardson are both in tonight, but there don’t appear to be any other changes for the Canucks from the lineup Sunday night against the Sabres. It’s Darcy Kuemper vs Halak in the nets.

GAME DAY CHATTER

GAME DAY BATTLE HYMN

We featured the amazing mashups of Bill McClintock on Youtube a couple times in the past, but his latest is a true masterpiece. Mixing three iconic hard rock songs seamlessly into something truly amazing. He took QUIET RIOT’s ‘Metal Health’, ‘All Right Now’ by FREE, ‘Ain’t Talkin ‘Bout Love’ by VAN HALEN and blended them perfectly. He even threw in a snippet of former QR guitarist Rand Rhoads’ solo from OZZY’s ‘Crazy Train’ for good measure. Incredible stuff.