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GAME DAY PREVIEW- GAME FIFTY-SEVEN: Canucks @ Toronto- Mar 5, 2022

After a gutsy come from behind win over the Islanders, the Canucks roll into Hogtown, looking for the season sweep against the Leafs.

Vancouver Canucks v Toronto Maple Leafs Photo by Mark Blinch/NHLI via Getty Images

VANCOUVER CANUCKS (27-23-6) vs TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS (35-15-4)

SCOTIABANK ARENA, TORONTO, ON

4:00PM PST

TV: SPORTSNET. RADIO: SPORTSNET 650

OPPOSING BLOG: PENSION PLAN PUPPETS

The final stop of a four game Eastern road swing brings the Canucks to Toronto this afternoon, and an opportunity to go 3-1 in these four games. Before they left, the possibility of splitting the four seemed like it would be a success given their competition: two of the NHL’s best and two that they can’t seem to beat for some reason. While the New Jersey game was pretty awful, the Canucks have been full value for the wins, and in the case of Thursday’s win over the Islanders, it could be something for them to build on.

It looked a little bleak after the Islanders tied the game 2-2 late in the second, then got the go ahead goal less than two minutes into the third, but they managed to keep pressuring, and got two massive goals from Nils Hoglander and Vasily Podkolzin to steal the lead back and leave Long Island with two points. For Hoglander it was his first goal in 20 games, and that kind of confidence boost could have a ripple effect on the team.

Tonight they face a Toronto team that’s been a little difficult to get a read on. Yes, they’ve got a pretty decent record, but they had a pretty bizarre February. They went 7-4-1, but lost games in regulation to the Canucks, Canadiens, Flames and St Louis plus an OT loss to Columbus. Jack Campbell was looking the goaltending issue had been solved, but he’s been inconsistent of late, (gestures to whatever the hell that 10-7 win over Detroit last Saturday was) and they haven’t gotten enough solid starts from Petr Mrazek, either.

Still, with Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, John Tavares and William Nylander along with rookie Micheal Bunting all having fantastic seasons, the Canucks will have their work cut out for them tonight. Still, they have shown they can hold their own against this team, but as we’ve seen all season long, Thatcher Demko is going to have to be the best player on the ice in order to pull this off.

The Leafs have been featuring prominently in trade rumours involving the Canucks, and while a lot of the spitballing has been centered around JT Miller, Vancouver’s apparent unwillingness to part with a guy who is quickly becoming a key piece as they try to transition the team back into a contender after years of neglect during the reign of Jim Benning, Conor Garland’s name has been surfacing lately as a possible target.

Another guy I think could do well in a playoff run for the Leafs is Tanner Pearson. Some solid experience in a bottom six roll from a guy who is playing his best hockey this season since the arrival of Bruce Boudreau, and the Cup experience is something that could make him attractive. They definitely can’t afford Miller given their cap situation, and the price for Garland continues to rise. Maybe Pearson is the one that will help fill a need?

LINEUPS

Courtesy of nhl.com, this is what tonight’s disasterpiece will include:

Canucks projected lineup

Tanner PearsonJ.T. MillerBrock Boeser

Nils HoglanderElias PetterssonConor Garland

Vasily PodkolzinBo HorvatAlex Chiasson

Tyler MotteJuho LammikkoMatthew Highmore

Oliver Ekman-LarssonTyler Myers

Quinn HughesLuke Schenn

Brad HuntTravis Hamonic

Thatcher Demko

Jaroslav Halak

Scratched: Madison Bowey, Phillip Di Giuseppe

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

Maple Leafs projected lineup

Michael BuntingAuston MatthewsMitchell Marner

Nicholas RobertsonJohn TavaresWilliam Nylander

Ilya MikheyevDavid KampfPierre Engvall

Alexander KerfootJason SpezzaWayne Simmonds

Morgan RiellyTimothy Liljegren

Travis DermottIlya Lyubushkin

TJ BrodieJustin Holl

Jack Campbell

Petr Mrazek

Scratched: Kyle Clifford

Injured: Jake Muzzin (concussion), Ondrej Kase (undisclosed), Rasmus Sandin (illness)

No changes for the Canucks in this one from Thursday night’s lineup. Campbell gets the start for the Leafs, after two straight Mrazek starts.

GAME DAY CHATTER

GAME DAY BATTLE HYMN

Since they’re in TO tonight, time to revisit a great GTO band and one of Canada’s underrated metal bands from the 90’s: MONSTER VOODOO MACHINE. At the height of their popularity they were on Ozzfest, but their show in Kamloops with DAYGLO ABORTIONS remains one of the best live shows I ever had the joy to witness.

Enjoy the game, eh? Go Canucks Go! Slava Ukraini!