Canucks vs. Leafs Game Day Report: Bieksa's Back

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Canucks Game Day Leafs

With the Canucks coming off of a disappointing loss to the Los Angeles Kings, they now set their sights on a Saturday afternoon tilt against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Rogers Arena.

The Leafs (27-36-6) are absolutely a disaster and the Canucks need to take the two points from a team that likely doesn’t even want to win in the first place.

Matchup

Game Time: 4:00 pm

TV: CBC

You are reading correctly that we have a 4:00 pm start for the Leafs-Canucks game. Should we really be surprised? The Leafs are the crown jewel of the NHL and also one of the most poorly run, but, no matter how much of a disaster they are on the ice, their fans follow them ravenously. As Mr. Bertuzzi most famously said, “it is, what it is!”

The Canucks absolutely need to take the two points that the Leafs surely have no interest in taking. The Canucks have had issues against the lesser-lites of the NHL and they need to reverse this trend swiftly.

They will also need to find a way to stop the red hot David Booth (!), who has 5 goals in his last 5 games.

Storylines

1. A Lesson In the History of the Toronto Maple Leafs

Let’s face it. The Leafs make the Edmonton Oilers look like a well oiled machine.

This is an organization that defines dysfunction. Any team that starts a season with a GM (Dave Nonis) who had his support staff stripped of him and a coach (Randy Carlyle) who had his assistant coaches replaced is logically not starting the season on the right foot. This disaster is no doubt the responsibility of Brendan Shanahan who wisely picked the right draft year to have his team be terrible.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B1yXqRvuszQ

If only Leafs management had the same amount of creativity and passion that the Leafs fanbase does.

2. The Eddie Lack Lovefest

Lack Sign

Image: canucks.nhl.com

There is no end to the love that Eddie Lack gets in Vancouver. Lack love is abundant on Twitterverse and it is seeping into the local media. I’m neither a charter member of #TeamLack nor an avid Miller backer. I’m all for whatever works to win a Stanley Cup before I die.

Lack has an extremely likeable personality and it is becoming more and more apparent that the fact everyone likes Eddie is clouding the way many view his performances. The latest example of this came from Sportsnet’s Dan Murphy. Murphy is generally balanced, but he offered this mind boggling nugget regarding Lack’s recent performances against the San Jose Sharks and Anaheim Ducks:

“…he [Lack] was also brilliant and by far Vancouver’s best player on the ice in both.”

I’d agree that Lack was one of the better players on the ice for Vancouver in those games. “By far the best player?” Yeah, no.

The Canucks were down 2-0 early against the San Jose Sharks last Saturday night. The first goal was one that Lack would likely want back. Lack shut the door for the rest of the game with thanks to Patrick Marleau, who missed a completely wide open net in a goal that would have likely sealed a win for the Sharks.

Radim Vrbata scored two highlight reel goals, including the game winner, and followed that up with a goal saving effort late in the 3rd period. I’m not sure what Vrbata has to do in order to get some respect, but 3 of the key moments in the San Jose win were all a result of unbelievable plays by him.

My point isn’t that Lack hasn’t been one of the keys to the Canucks continuing to hold on to a playoff spot. He certainly has, but he has had lots of help.

3. Kevin Bieksa

 

He’s back!

There is little doubt that the Canucks have missed Kevin Bieksa. While there is a lot of evidence that his game is in decline, Bieksa makes the Canucks a better team. This is partially because he is an upgrade on the 3rd pairing and his grit (or the potential for grit) is needed. Bieksa also brings a bit of a swagger back to the Canucks. The Canucks weathered the storm with a defense corps completely decimated by injuries and now are completely healthy for the stretch run. As David Pratt would say, how good is that?

Lineup

Well, this one is a bit of a surprise!

Shockingly the Canucks are now fully healthy and this news could not come at a better time.

D. Sedin H. Sedin Kassian
Matthias Bonino Vrbata
Burrows Horvat Hansen
Higgins Richardson Dorsett
Edler Tanev
Hamhuis Weber
Sbisa Bieksa
Lack

Prediction

The Canucks need points and the Leafs are trying to avoid winning. Generally this would be regarded as gift, however, the Canucks have shown an inability to put away teams that are terrible. The tide turns Saturday night! The Canucks win 5-1. Vancouver inches closer to a playoff spot and Toronto inches closer to Connor McDavid. Both sets of fans dance in the streets.

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Ian Lusher Canucks Contributor
@ianlusher

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