Vancouver Canucks gameday: Brock Boeser vs. Mathew Barzal

VANCOUVER, BC - MARCH 9: Daniel Sedin
VANCOUVER, BC - MARCH 9: Daniel Sedin /

Following a pair of frustrating losses on the East Coast, the Vancouver Canucks will look to get back in the win column against the New York Islanders. Here’s the official game preview, and all you need to know for the game.

The Vancouver Canucks have to be content with getting five of eight points on the east coast road trip thus far, but they know they let a victory get away against the New York Rangers on Sunday afternoon.

So what better than to take it out on their crosstown rivals, the New York Islanders? Led by perennial superstar John Tavares and rookie star Mathew Barzal, the Isles are in the running for the Metropolitan Division — a year after missing the playoffs in 2017 altogether.

The Canucks have played surprisingly well against high-flying, speedy teams like the Islanders, so this matchup isn’t as overwhelming as you think. Can Vancouver get win No. 3 on this brutal road trip? Here’s our official game preview.

Final. 0. 106. 0. 104

Vancouver Canucks


2017-18 Record: 11-9-4

2016-17 Record vs. Islanders: 0-1-1

Goals For: 66

Goals Against: 68

Injuries (from Rotoworld): Brandon Sutter (undisclosed, day-to-day), Erik Gudbranson (wrist, day to day), Derek Dorsett (back/neck, day to day)

Who’s on offence

Brock Boeser will try to get a leg up on Barzal in the Calder Trophy race. He’s already got 11 goals and 22 points on the season, and scored a shootout goal against the Rangers on Sunday.

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Boeser is on a six-game point streak, with six goals in his last five outings. No doubt he’ll be the focal point of the Canucks offence tonight, and he should be able to penetrate an Islanders defence that allows 32.7 shots per game (via

Also, Loui Eriksson has been red-hot for the Canucks. In just 12 games, he already has three goals and eight points. Eriksson has six points in his last five games, getting it done as both a goal-scorer and set-up man. The Canucks would love it if the $6 million-a-year man could keep earning his salary.

Who’s on defence

Hockey is weird. The Canucks were able to shut down the Pittsburgh Penguins explosive offence in a 5-2 win last Wednesday. But since Chris Tanev‘s return, they’re 0-1-1, allowing six goals in those two games. He’s far and away their best defenceman, and it’s uncharacteristic of the blue line to struggle this much with him on the ice.

Nonetheless, Tanev’s return is huge for the Canucks — who will need him to slow down the Islanders’ top guns.

Who’s in net

With Jacob Markstrom starting the last two games, expect Anders Nilsson to get the nod for this one. He’s 5-1-1 on the season with a 2.25 goals against average and .934 save percentage. Remember, you can’t spell “Vezina Trophy” without “Anders Nilsson.”

Projected lineup

Sven Baertschi—Bo Horvat—Brock Boeser

Daniel Sedin—Henrik Sedin—Jake Virtanen

Loui Eriksson—Markus Granlund—Thomas Vanek

Brendan Gaunce—Brandon Sutter—Sam Gagner

Alexander Edler—Derrick Pouliot

Ben Hutton—Chris Tanev

Michael Del Zotto—Troy Stecher

*lineups courtesy of the dailyfaceoff

New York Islanders


2017-18 Record: 14-7-2

2016-17 Record vs. Canucks: 2-0-0

Goals For: 84

Goals Against: 74

Injuries (from Rotoworld): Casey Cizikas (lower body, day-to-day), Nikolay Kulemin (shoulder, out for season), Shane Prince (ankle, out til mid-February)

Who’s on offence

John Tavares is once again the star player on Long Island, with 26 points in 23 games thus far. He’s also in a contract year, and his future with the Islanders is in jeopardy. If this is Johnny T’s final year in New York, he’s sure making the most of it.

Meanwhile, Mathew Barzal has six goals and 22 points on the season — and is one point up on Brock Boeser in the rookie scoring race. The Coquitlam, B.C. native has elite play-making skills, and will be a handful for Vancouver’s blue line to handle.

Who’s on defence

Nick Leddy has been a force on the Islanders blue line. He’s scored six goals this season and has 21 points in just 23 games. He’s on pace to top his career-high in points for the third consecutive season.

Who’s in net

Thomas Greiss has shined as the No. 1 starter. He’s 8-2-2 on the season, though his 3.34 goals against average and .903 save percentage are worrisome, to say the least.

Projected lineup

Josh Bailey — John Tavares  — Anders Lee
Andrew Ladd — Mathew Barzal — Jordan Eberle
Brock Nelson — Alan Quine— Josh Ho-Sang
Jason Chimera — Anthony Beauvillier — Cal Clutterbuck

Nick Leddy — Johnny Boychuk
Calvin de Haan —Adam Pelech
Thomas Hickey — Dennis Seidenberg

*lineups courtesy of the dailyfaceoff

Keys to victory

Vancouver Canucks

1. The Canucks are going to have to tighten up in their own end. We’ve seen too many mistakes in the last couple of games. The Islanders have great scoring depth and can burn you with their slick speed and quick puck-movement.

2. Take lots of shots. The Islanders haven’t received strong goaltending, and they surrender a ton of shots. With Boeser, Eriksson and Bo Horvat all rolling, there’s no sense to look for the perfect play. Just get pucks on net, and good things will happen.

3. Blanket Tavares. The Canucks kept Sidney Crosby in check last week, and the Penguins couldn’t generate the offence. This is easier said than done, but eliminating the top threat will make a win all that much easier.

New York Islanders

1.The Canucks power play has been firing on most cylinders lately. Unlike the first month of the season, it’s not a good idea to carelessly take penalties on them. So maybe give Vancouver as few power plays as possible.

2. Cycle the puck. Vancouver’s blue line isn’t well built to handle big guys like Tavares, Barzal and Leddy. If they can move the puck well and wait for that perfect set-up, the Islanders can burn the Canucks.

3. Take it to a shootout, because the Canucks don’t do very well in the skills competition.


Alex Hoegler

3. 106. 4. 104. Final

The Canucks have played very well on this trip, but haven’t gotten the bounces in the last two games. The Islanders are scary, but Vancouver returns to form and takes this one in overtime. Horvat wins it.

Drew Nazareth

Final. 1. 106. 3. 104

Brock Boeser gets two points to overtake Mathew Barzal in the rookie scoring lead, and Loui Eriksson scores another. Anders Nilsson gets the start.

Tyler Shipley

104. Final. 1. 106. 4

Nikolay Goldobin gives the team a lift, Sedins continue their solid play, Nilsson shuts the door.

Next: Canucks weekly thoughts: Blueline dilemma, PK

Scott Rosenhek

104. Final. 4. 106. 2

If Travis Green keeps the same lines from Sunday, it will be another sloppy game of hockey. John Tavares, Jordan Eberle and Mathew Barzal will burn the Canucks but Boeser and Tommy Gun get goals. Nilsson puts out a good effort.