Vancouver Canucks preview: The Kings are dead, long live King Boeser

VANCOUVER, BC - DECEMBER 28: Brock Boeser /
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Vancouver Canucks


2017-18 record: 16-17-5

2017-18 record vs Kings: 1-0-0

Goals for: 103 (21st in the league)

Goals against: 121 (27th in the league)

Injuries (from Rotoworld): Brandon Sutter (Groin; day-to-day), Bo Horvat (Ankle; week-to-week), Sven Baertschi (Jaw; week-to-week), Chris Tanev (Groin; day-to-day)

Who’s on offence

You know it’s not one of my previews with addressing our king of the Canucks, Brock Boeser. He is a superstar, and no one can deny that (I’m looking at you Edmonton and Toronto fans). The Flow has 21 goals on the season, eclipsing every single Canuck that played last season before the turn of the new year. Boeser is tied for fourth in goals scored among NHL players. He took back the rookie scoring lead with a vengeance and the only player on the Kings with more points is Anze Kopitar. The Kings captain is only two points ahead of Boeser.

Thomas Vanek has been inflating his trade value in his last four games. With 10 points in that span, including Thursday’s five-point effort. Unfortunately, Vanek only has 11 points in the month of December. He has been streaky, but is taking full advantage of his chance to play with Brock Boeser during these injuries. Tommy Gun is on a high (not that kind of high—get your mind out of gutter) right now. He is fun to watch, and I like how he mentored Boeser in his own way. It’s icing on the cake to trade to a contender and bring him back for next season.

Who’s on defence

More from The Canuck Way

Ben Hutton and Troy Stecher have had rough seasons to say the least. With four and two points, respectively, our hopes for a couple offensive top four defencemen have been dashed.

Hutton makes a lot of sloppy plays, despite having positive analytics that indicate he has a hand in driving play. Stecher makes the occasional gaffe, but the lack of offence is more concerning.

Much of this has to do with reduced ice time and fewer opportunities on the power play, especially for Stecher. Part of their poor play is their responsibility, but their coach is not doing them any favours. These two are young defencemen who need responsible veterans to insulate them and teach them how to defend more effectively.

Alexander Edler should be paired with Stecher and Hutton should be paired with Chris Tanev when he is healthy. Michael Del Zotto and Erik Gudbranson do nothing to help either defencemen. If Green is going to bury them with tough defensive assignments, then he needs to give them a chance to succeed. The team is not good and having an Edler-Tanev pairing when everyone is healthy has done nothing to help the Canucks win more games.

Who’s in net

Anders Nilsson has fallen back to Earth. His GAA is up to 3.39 with a .906 save percentage. Earning a second win against this tough LA Kings squad would be a good bounce back. The game is no easy task, as I expect him to be under siege. However, Nilsson can earn some trust from his coach, who was rather belligerent with him last practice.

The Canucks goalies need to be better, but did you consider it was too convenient that both goalies happened to play this badly at the exact same time? Maybe the team’s issues are far deeper than their goaltending. Food for thought.

Projected lineup

Daniel Sedin—Henrik Sedin—Loui Eriksson

Thomas Vanek—Sam Gagner—Brock Boeser

Nikolay Goldobin—Markus Granlund—Jake Virtanen

Alex Biega—Nic Dowd—Brendan Gaunce

Alexander Edler—Derrick Pouliot

Michael Del Zotto—Erik Gudbranson

Ben Hutton—Troy Stecher

*lineups courtesy of the daily faceoff