Vancouver Canucks gameday: Ovechkin, Capitals come to town

ST. PAUL, MN - OCTOBER 24: The Vancouver Canucks celebrate after right wing Jake Virtanen (18) scored the game winning goal in the third period during the Western Conference game between the Vancouver Canucks and the Minnesota Wild on October 24, 2017, at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minnesota. (Photo by David Berding/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
ST. PAUL, MN - OCTOBER 24: The Vancouver Canucks celebrate after right wing Jake Virtanen (18) scored the game winning goal in the third period during the Western Conference game between the Vancouver Canucks and the Minnesota Wild on October 24, 2017, at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minnesota. (Photo by David Berding/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /

After completing an impressive road trip in which they went 4-1, the Vancouver Canucks look to extend their winning streak to four games as they face off against the Washington Capitals.

The Vancouver Canucks are in good spirits these days, as they have gone on to win their last three games by a combined score of 9-3. Though winning three in a row is a great accomplishment, the best part is that the youth has had a major role in putting it all together. For a team that is focused on developing its players and looking towards the future, this outcome was ideal.

The Capitals on the other hand find themselves in the complete opposite situation where they are focused more on the present than on player development. Though they have won the Presidents’ Trophy in consecutive seasons, they have also experienced consecutive playoff failure at the hands of the arch-rival Pittsburgh Penguins.

The Caps come into tonight’s game with a respectable 4-4-1 record. Though with a team that boasts three of the league’s top ten scorer’s, they are bound to breakout at some point and run roughshod on the rest of the league.

Hopefully that won’t start tonight!

Final. 0. 19. 0. 104

Vancouver Canucks

2017-2018 Record: 5-3-1

2016-2017 Record vs. Capitals: 0-2-0

Goals for: 24

Goals Against: 23

Injuries: Troy Stecher (knee, 4-6 weeks), Brendan Gaunce (shoulder, out indefinitely), Alexander Edler (knee, 3-4 weeks), Loui Eriksson (knee, 4-6 weeks)

Who’s On Offence

Jake Virtanen (AKA “Big Tuna”) has two goals and an assist in his last three games, including the game winning goal in the Canucks last game vs. the Minnesota Wild.

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His confidence has never been higher, and it seems that he is also revitalized the Sedins, as they have been more noticeable the past three games.

Markus Granlund scored his first goal of the season on the road trip against the Buffalo Sabres. The twenty-four year old Finland native is being counted on this year after scoring nineteen goals last season. With two points in nine games to start the year, look for him to start contributing more.

Who’s On Defence

Derrick Pouliot has quietly had an effective start to the year with two points in six games, as well as boasting some of the better advanced statistics on the team. With the injuries to the Canucks defence, look for him to step up and play more meaningful minutes. Last game he played with more confidence and it showed on the powerplay where he set up good chances for himself but couldn’t capitalize.

Who’s In Goal

Anders Nilsson will get the nod once again after his shutout performance in Minnesota. Nilsson is 2-1-0 this season a 1.83 goals against average, .949 save percentage and two shutouts. Yet another goalie controversy. Welcome to Vancouver.

Projected Lineup

Daniel Sedin—Henrik Sedin—Jake Virtanen

Sven Baertschi—Bo Hovat—Brock Boeser

Sam Gagner—Alex Burmistrov—Thomas Vanek

Derek Dorsett—Brandon Sutter—Markus Granlund

Ben Hutton—Chris Tanev

Michael Del Zotto—Erik Gudbranson

Derrick Pouliot—Alex Biega

Washington Capitals

2017-2018 Record: 4-4-1

2016-2017 Record vs. Canucks: 2-0-0

Goals For: 28

Goals Against: 31

Injuries: Andre Burakovsky (Thumb, 6-8 weeks), Tyler Graovac (UBI, week to week), Matt Niskanen (undisclosed).

Who’s On Offence

Alex Ovechkin is up to his usual goal scoring tricks with ten goals in nine games. However, seven  of those goals came in the first two games in the season, so he has slowed down considerably. Nevertheless, he is always a threat to score.

If Ovechkin was Batman, then Nicklas Backstrom is his Robin. However this year, coach Barry Trotz has elected to split up the iconic duo and have them on separate lines. So far this has paid dividends as Backstrom is tied for the team lead in points with twelve in nine games. He is just as dangerous as Ovechkin.

If Robin had his own sidekick, that’s who Evgeny Kuznetsov would be. He is tied with Backstrom for the team lead in points with 12, however all of his points are assists. At some point he is going to score, and when he does, the flood gates will open for this guy because he is simply too talented.

Who’s On Defence

John Carlson has five points in nine games. However he sports a team worst minus 4 rating, meaning that his offensive production has come at the cost of his defence.

Rookie Christian Djoos has made quite the impression, with three points in his first six games. With the injury to Matt Niskanen, he is getting an oppportunity to prove himself and so far he is doing an admirable job.

Who’s In Goal

Braden Holtby is an elite number one goalie who will be getting the lion’s share of the starts. In six games he has 2.31 GAA, and a 0.923 SV%.

Projected Lineup

Alex Ovechkin – Evgeny Kuznetsov – Alex Chiasson

Tom Wilson – Nickals Backstrom – T.J. Oshie

Brett Connolly – Lars Eller – Jakub Vrana

Nathan Walker – Jay Beagle – Devante-Smith Pelley

Christian Djoos – John Carlson

Brooks Orpik – Madison Bowey

Dmitri Orlov – Taylor Chorney

Keys to victory

Vancouver Canucks

  1. Shut down the superstars. It will be of the utmost importance to play the likes of Ovechkin, Backstrom, and Kuznetsov as tight as possible. They are going to need the Bo Horvat line to help the Brandon Sutter line defend against this three headed dragon.
  2. Goaltending. The Canucks are going to need a spectacular performance from Nilsson to have a chance to win this game.
  3. Powerplay. The Washington Capitals have the 25th ranked penalty kill, so the Canucks need to exploit this weakness as early and often as they can.

Washington Capitals

  1. The stars align. Ovechkin, Backstrom, and Kuznetsov play to their capability and this game can be over before it begins.
  2. Holtby Halts. The goaltending is solid, and especially comes up big during the penalty kill.


Alex Hoegler

Final. 3. 19. 2. 104

3-2 Capitals in a shootout. The Canucks had a great road trip, but the well-rested Caps catch them napping at Rogers Arena. Ovechkin scores twice and wins it in the shotout.

Scott Rosenhek

3. 19. 1. 104. Final

3-1 Capitals. Alex Ovechkin will come in to Rogers Arena guns blazing. The Caps are a much better than what the Canucks saw on their road trip. Big Tuna keeps his point streak going with another goal.

Isha Jahromi

104. Final. 4. 19. 2

The Vancouver Canucks will come out of the gate hot but Washington’s systems performed by all their elite players will be too much for the Canucks. I predict a typical 3rd period collapse. Markus Granland will score 5 on 5 and Brock Boeser will net one on the powerplay.

Tyler Shipley

19. 1. 104. Final. 4

Soft competition and a good work ethic made Vancouver’s road trip pretty successful. But it was always unsustainable, and Ovie is here to remind us of that.

Andrew Nazareth

3. 104. Final. 1. 19

Next: Canucks roundtable: Debating a Matt Duchene trade

3-1 Canucks. Though on paper and in terms of the rest the Caps have the advantage, this plucky Canucks team will play hard and catch the Caps off guard. Markus Granlund will score, and the powerplay will help push to Canucks to victory in this one.