vs. Columbus Blue Jackets (19-27-5) Thursday, February 4th
Leading scorer: Brandon Saad (19 goals, 35 points)
Keys to the game:
- Returning Hank, Hammer, and Tortz
- Start fast, play fast, and end fast
- Spread the scoring
The Vancouver Canucks will host the Columbus Blue Jackets to kick-start the post-All-Star segment of the season. Who better than the Blue Jackets to play after a week of rest? The Blue Jackets sit last in the entire NHL, even after their trade for Seth Jones.
The Canucks might welcome Captain Henrik and Dan Hamhuis back to the lineup — no official word yet from the Canucks. But what we know for sure is that John Tortorella will be returning to the very scene of The Brawl. It will be fun for the Canucks to play against their former coach, the one who donned them the “Lost Season”.
I wonder where Tom Sestito is. Dale Weise is settling down in Montreal, and Kevin Bieksa is down with the Anaheim Ducks. Kellan Lain is down in the AHL after parting ways with Vancouver via a trade to the Edmonton Oilers. Jason Garrison lives on with the Canucks as a Tampa Bay Lightning, in the form of Linden Vey (via two trades).
It has been an interesting season for Tortz. He sustained two broken ribs during practice when Rene Bourque collided into him. While he was out, his assistant coach led the league-worst Blue Jackets to a 2-0-1 record, including back-to-back wins against the Montreal Canadiens.
Hrrm. Wink, wink, Tortzy.
The Canucks will have Daniel Sedin back from the All-Star break, who should be fired up having played for his All-Star Captain John Scott. If you missed it, John Scott pretty much single-handedly made this year’s events the best NHL All-Stars that I can remember.
More from The Canuck Way
- Which team won the Bo Horvat trade?
- What to expect from newcomers Anthony Beauvillier, Aatu Räty
- Back to the future: How the skate uniforms became a regular Canucks’ feature night
- Canucks kick off 2023 with disappointing 6-2 loss to Islanders
- 2nd period penalty trouble sinks Canucks in 4-2 loss against Winnipeg
Anyhow, the last game the Canucks played, they were scored against in the opening minutes. Before that, they were starting a habit of scoring the game’s first goal. It will be crucial for Vancouver to start their game — and their playoff push — on the right foot. Start the game hot, stay hot, and end the game hot. Don’t let these bottom feeders into the game.
Funny how I called Columbus “bottom feeders”. The Canucks are just six teams ahead from the Blue Jackets. Nevertheless, the Blue Jackets are the league’s worst team with the league-worst defence.
However, despite the poor showing in the points department, the Canucks look so much better with Brandon Sutter back and when Henrik draws back in, they will look even better.
D. Sedin – H. Sedin – Hansen
Baertschi – Horvat – Vrbata
McCann – Sutter – Virtanen
Burrows – Vey – Etem
If I had any say with the Canucks’ lineup, that would be it. You play the best players that you have even if you have to pull some players out of their usual positions. Look — you have three lines that can score and the other that can shut things down defensively. At the cost of a Derek Dorsett, of course.
I like the Canucks’ chances a lot. The last game was a goal fest for the Sedins and Jannik Hansen, and don’t be surprised if this one is, too. As long as nothing miraculous happens for Tortzy, Canucks all the way. To give credit to the Blue Jackets, they are coming off back-to-back wins. This game will give an outlook into the following 31 to end the season.
Torts returns! Should be a fun game at both ends but I think the team will want a strong effort after their last game prior to the break.
The Blue Jackets are one of the, if not the single worst team in the league. Should be an easy one at home, no?
Next: Home vs. Calgary