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Game Day Preview #47: Jan 24, 2023- Canucks vs Chicago

The Rick Tocchet era begins with a game against one of the hottest teams in the NHL: The Chicago Blackhawks. Wait... what???

NHL: NOV 21 Blackhawks at Canucks Photo by Devin Manky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

VANCOUVER CANUCKS (18-25-3) vs CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS (14-27-4)

7:00 PM PST

ROGERS ARENA, VANCOUVER, BC

TV: SPORTSNET PACIFIC RADIO: SN650

I suppose it’s kind of fitting that the first game for the Canucks and their new coaching regime looks, on paper at least, to be a slam dunk in terms of getting that first win out of the way. I say on paper because a) this is still the Vancouver Canucks we’re talking about, with the same defence core and the same 2nd and 3rd string goaltenders, and b) the Blackhawks have been far better over the past ten games than the Canucks, winning six of their last ten as compared to just two for Vancouver.

I need to make something clear: I don’t think Tocchet needs to go. They made their choice, and that’s fine. I vehemently disagree that he’s the right person for the job, but he’s here, and we’ll just have to let this whole comedy or errors/horrors play itself out. My fury about all of this is not directed at him (yet). This is 100% about the ownership and management of this team for the shitty, classless way they handled the situation, the cowardly response of a press conference and the constant gaslighting of the media covering this team and the fan base that has been going on for a while now.

And in keeping with this year’s theme, this story just continues to get worse, each time you peel back another layer. Like this beautiful little piece of information that just defies belief:

Again, this isn’t about Tocchet. In what world can you justify paying a coach with his pedigree and track record almost 50% more than Bruce Boudreau? Just make it make sense, for fuck’s sake. And while it continues to get worse, holy shit it legitimately could have been so, so much worse.

So instead, we’ve lost one of the best coaches of all time in the NHL for a guy whose only playoff appearance came thanks to a hand up from Gary Bettman into the playoff bubble, but this move is somehow meant to inspire confidence in the future? He’s being brought in as a babysitter for JT Miller, which just makes that signing look so much worse, and it will continue to do so with every player that gets jettisoned to try and create cap space for the rebuild that should have been going on the moment Rutherford and Allvin walked in the door.

Now, onto tonight. The Blackhawks roll in having made up a chunk of ground on the Canucks this month, to which we would ask ‘Why? Why would you do that?’. I mean, I get the pride thing, but if your tank is rollin’, and you start driving away from Connor Bedard, there’s something wrong with you.

The Hawks are on the verge of a rebuild, their Cup days fading into horrific memories (but never forgetting what a truly vile organization they are), with just Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews left from their glory days. It’s possible that neither of them could still be Hawks by the time the trade deadline rolls around, as the NHL participates in its time-honored tradition of doing nonsensical deals that help Chicago avoid cap issues and get better for some reason. NHL GMs are so weird man. It’s like they’re all secret Hawks fans or something...

LINEUPS

So this is what they tell us to expect out on the ice tonight, if you believe sketchy websites like *checks notes+ nhl.com ...

Blackhawks projected lineup

Andreas AthanasiouMax DomiPatrick Kane

Philipp KurashevJonathan ToewsTaylor Raddysh

Jason DickinsonSam LaffertyLuke Philp

Colin BlackwellMacKenzie EntwistleReese Johnson

Jake McCabeSeth Jones

Jack JohnsonConnor Murphy

Ian MitchellCaleb Jones

Petr Mrazek

Jaxson Stauber

Scratched: Filip Roos, Boris Katchouk

Injured: Tyler Johnson (ankle), Jarred Tinordi (facial fracture), Jujhar Khaira (lower back), Alex Stalock (concussion)

Canucks projected lineup

Jack StudnickaBo HorvatBrock Boeser

Ilya MikheyevElias PetterssonAndrei Kuzmenko

Sheldon DriesJ.T. MillerConor Garland

Dakota JoshuaCurtis LazarWilliam Lockwood

Oliver Ekman-LarssonLuke Schenn

Quinn HughesTyler Myers

Travis DermottKyle Burroughs

Collin Delia

Spencer Martin

Scratched: Lane Pederson, Riley Stillman, Ethan Bear

Injured: Thatcher Demko (lower body), Tanner Pearson (hand), Tucker Poolman (undisclosed)

Hoo boy, where to begin? Is it a bigger deal that somehow were being told that maybe Jack Studnicka should be on the first line, or that we’re paying our third line center almost as much as our first line center? Again, I just want things to make sense. Anyway, these appear to be the same lines that rolled in practice yesterday, and while line one is concerning, and line three confusing, it’s good to see Pettersson, Kuzmenko and Mikheyev reunited.

Also good? Giving Collin Delia the start against his former team. I suppose if you were looking for a positive heading into tonight, a goaltender motivated to show up his old mates would be a good thing. With Ethan Bear still looking like a scratch, Kyle Burroughs will get in tonight.

GAME DAY CHATTER

GAME DAY BATTLE HYMN

A new one from NYC legends PRONG today and it is an absolute banger! I’m sure the lyrics are merely a coincidence after Monday’s press conference. Ahem. Anyway, crank this one and get ready for whatever the hell this next version of the Canucks is going to be.

Enjoy the game. We miss you, Bruce. Go Canucks Go. Vox sucks. Sell the team, Frankie.