Following a disappointing overtime loss in Los Angeles on Tuesday night, the Canucks are back home only to be greeted by the high-flying Dallas Stars, a team they played less than a week ago during their recent road trip. They’ll hope for a better result, having lost 3-2 in a shootout last week.
Game Time: 7:00 p.m.
TV: Sportsnet 360
The Canucks return home after a 1-1-2 road trip that left a lot to be desired. An impressive win in Minnesota led to a shootout loss in Dallas, though the Canucks did tie the game in the third rather than give away the lead (baby steps).
After Dallas, Vancouver put forth a lackluster effort in Anaheim and then, you guessed it, lost the lead over the Kings in the third and gave up yet another overtime goal, this time to Anze Kopitar.
Fear not! Things can only go up from here. The Canucks will look to exact a small measure of revenge on one of the league’s best teams tonight.
That victory over the Canucks is part of a nine game stretch for the Stars that has seen them go 7-1-2 while scoring an impressive 32 goals (~3.6 GPG). It appears as long as Antti Niemi or Kari Lehtonen put on an average performance in, Dallas has an opportunity to win. Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin highlight an exciting team that should push the limits of this banged up version of the Vancouver Canucks.
1. Sutter Surgery
Things just aren’t going Brandon Sutter’s way. After signing a new deal with the Canucks in the offseason, Sutter has played a grand total of 16 games with his new team, registering 8 points. Now, he’s undergone successful sports hernia and will be unavailable for 4-to-6 weeks.
It’s the latest speed bump in what has been a tumultuous start to Sutter’s tenure with Vancouver. Inextricably linked to Nick Bonino, and thus Ryan Kesler, Sutter has some big skates to fill.
However, his presence on the penalty kill is sorely missed and in fact, the Canucks have gone just 2-5-2 without Sutter. While he may not yet have reached the lofty standards of Ryan Kesler, there is a possibility he could obtain an important role on this team soon, especially if the Canucks continue to look towards prospects and younger players during this “on-the-fly rebuild”.
2. Ronalds Returns
It’s the return of Vancouver’s favourite Latvian! With injuries to Chris Higgins and Jake Virtanen, the Canucks were forced to call up reinforcements from Utica. For whatever reason Hunter Shinkaruk was passed up for Ronalds Kenins, who played 30 games with the Canucks last year, plus five playoff games.
Pro tip: tweets about Ronalds Kenins get lots of retweets from Latvian hockey fans, usually overnight. This is good for your #brand.
— Sir Earl (@Sir_Earl) December 2, 2015
While he contributed 4 goals and 12 points in those 30 games, it was mostly Kenins’ physical play that stood out. In Utica this season, Kenins has only played 7 games, registering 1 assist. Perhaps the Canucks are hoping he can bring the injection of energy he did last year. Let’s hope he does.
3. Goalie, Goalies, Goalies
What would Vancouver be without a little bit of confusion around the starting goaltending position. Rob put it brilliantly in an article written yesterday, suggesting that Markstrom needs some more time and more games to prove himself and while some may be calling for the 25-year-old to start tonight, it should be the de facto number one, Ryan Miller.
However, that’s not the only noteworthy news surrounding Canucks goaltenders leading up to this game. As part of the 20 in 20 theme celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Vancouver Canucks playing in the Rogers Arena, every goalie in the last twenty years will be recognized tonight – hopefully, some more than others. Sorry, Martin Brochu…
Canucks.com unveiled this infographic yesterday highlighting every goalie that has suited up for Vancouver since 1995. Hint: it’s a lot. It’s really not something that we should want to mention, never mind dedicate an entire evening to. Be prepared for some pretty awful tweets tonight. Mika Noronen might want to stay off Twitter for a little while.
With Chris Higgins, Jake Virtanen, and Brandon Sutter out, it appears Willie Desjardins may have to get creative with his scoring lines. After a solid game in LA, Alex Biega will be back in with Chris Tanev still injured. Ben Hutton is skating again, but not expected to play.
Coach Desjardins thought about going with Markstrom, but Miller starts tonight vs. Stars. #Canucks
— Vancouver Canucks (@VanCanucks) December 3, 2015
Ryan Miller will get the start in goal.
Here’s how the Canucks looked at practice this morning:
|D. Sedin||H. Sedin||Hansen|
It’s been less than six days since the Canucks saw the Stars last and if what they say about familiarity breeding contempt is true, we could be in for a battle tonight. Twelve minor penalties last week could give way to some rare fisticuffs this week. I’m not usually a big proponent of fighting, but even I wouldn’t mind Antoine Roussel taking on Brandon Prust or Derek Dorsett just to see the results.
At this point, predicting the Canucks will lose in overtime is kind of cheating, so I’ll attempt to make it a little more interesting. The Stars have yet to be shut out this season, and it’s bound to happen at some point. Why not let it be tonight? Canucks win 3-0.