UBS ARENA, ELMONT, NY
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OPPOSING BLOG: LIGHTHOUSE HOCKEY
The last time these teams met was... ugly. Oddly enough, there are a number of similarities between that 6-3 loss to the Islanders and the Canucks embarrassing 7-2 loss in New Jersey on Tuesday night. Both games were the tail end of a back to back, both had Jaroslav Halak as the starter, and in both games he got lit up. While it wasn’t the 5-0 lead after the first like we saw against the Islanders, Halak has completely dropped the ball on his last two starts and thankfully he won’t be in the crease tonight, right? Right??
The Canucks look to put that, and an inconsistent February behind them as they prepare for the stretch run and a trade deadline that could see them looking quite different on the other side of it. They went 6-4-0 in February, not bad, but those regulation losses are going to come back to haunt them, you have to think.
March presents them with an insanely tough schedule, with visits from some of the NHL’s best squads, a stretch of seven games in 12 days and two straight back to backs with two days rest in between. And while that seven game home stand will decide the fate of this team for this season, they need to focus on tonight and Saturday, and try and come out of this road swing with six of a possible eight points and keep chipping away at the distance between them and the rotating holder of the final wild card slot in the West, currently the Dallas Stars.
As for the Islanders, their season is all but done, as they sit seventeen points behind the Washington Capitals for the last playoff spot in the East. After three straight playoff appearances, the last two both ending at the hands of the eventual Stanley Cup Champions from Tampa Bay, the Islanders aren’t even close to where they’ve been the past couple seasons. It might have had a bit to do with that massive road trip to start the season as they awaited the completion of the new UBS Arena. More likely, it was an eleven game winless streak, including the first seven in their new digs. They also finished February with a less than ideal 0-2-1 California road swing, and welcomed March in with a 5-3 loss to Colorado to finish that road swing at 1-3-1.
Courtesy of nhl.com, this is what tonight’s disasterpiece should resemble:
Canucks projected lineup
Islanders projected lineup
Scratched: Matt Martin
Having Barzal and Chara out is definitely advantageous for the Canucks, who should come out firing as they look to erase the bitter taste of both Tuesday’s game and the last meeting between these teams.
GAME DAY CHATTER
I won’t be on the call for the next couple of #Canucks games because I’m in COVID protocol. Thanks to @kenwardskorner for stepping in on short notice! He’ll join @CoreyHirsch tonight and Saturday, and I’ll be back in the booth next week.— Brendan Batchelor (@BatchHockey) March 3, 2022
Definitely looks like Bruce Boudreau is trying to send a message to a couple players, most notably Nils Hoglander. While I doubt that Phil Di Giuseppe bumps him tonight, another lackluster performance could see him in the press box.
GAME DAY BATTLE HYMN
JINJER hail from Donetsk, Ukraine, and somehow this band has slipped through the cracks on me. They’re definitely an interesting listen, as we see in this track from their most recent album ‘Wallflower’. The band posted a message on Youtube the other day as the Russian army invaded the country. Have a look, a listen, and if you can, give them your support.
Enjoy the game. Go Canucks Go! Slava Ukraini!