The Vancouver Canucks finish their six-game homestand tonight against the league-leading Boston Bruins. Here is your gameday preview.
There’s no denying that the Vancouver Canucks have missed out on several prime opportunities during their six-game homestand.
Vancouver has dropped three of five, with two of those losses coming against non-playoff teams in the Anaheim Ducks and Minnesota Wild. They’ve slipped from first in the Pacific Division down to third, and the Canucks are only two points clear of the Arizona Coyotes — though Vancouver has four games in hand — and four up on the Nashville Predators, the top two teams on the outside looking in.
Simply put, the Canucks have to come away with two points here against the Boston Bruins. That would at least salvage seven of a possible 12 points on the homestand. Perhaps not as many as they expected and hoped for, but the Canucks would still come away with more than half of the available points.
The test can’t get any more difficult, however. The defending Eastern Conference champions are clicking on all cylinders with five straight wins heading into tonight’s contest.
Players to watch
Elias Pettersson: Canuck fans aren’t about to forget the controversial hit Pettersson took from Matt Grzelcyk on Feb. 4, which didn’t lead to a penalty call nor a suspension. For Pettersson, the ultimate revenge would show up on the score sheet. Vancouver simply needs him against the defensively sound Bruins.
Patrice Bergeron: Age hasn’t slowed down the 34-year-old Bergeron in the slightest. He’s not their leading scorer, but he’s always Boston’s most effective player. He’s going to cause frustration everywhere — at both ends of the ice, on both special teams units and in the faceoff circle. Bergeron had one assist in the Feb. 4 meeting.
J.T. Miller: With Brock Boeser sidelined, the Canucks need their leading scorer (59 points) more than ever. Miller scored twice against Minnesota on Wednesday night, and head coach Travis Green needs similar production tonight. Miller vs. Bergeron in the faceoff circle will be a joy to watch.
Brad Marchand: It’s always an adventure when Marchand comes to Vancouver. Green’s players will have to keep their cool against Marchand, because he always succeeds in getting under their skin. He also tallied a goal in Boston’s 4-0 win against Vancouver earlier this month.
Prediction: 5-2 Canucks
The Canucks have lost six of their last eight, and eventually, they simply have to bust out of the slump. The Bruins, as noted above, have won five in a row. They’re due for a bump in the road at some point, and the league leaders will be playing their second game in as many nights — this time against a desperate home team.
Vancouver has won its last two home games against Boston, and four of the last six overall. I’m expecting a great bounce-back game for the entire team as they skate away with their biggest win of the season. The Canucks take it 5-2.