After losing their first preseason game of the year, the Vancouver Canucks will be looking to bounce back on Monday night.
The team didn’t dress too many familiar faces on Sunday, a 5-3 loss at the hands of the NHL’s newest team, opting to give some of their younger prospects an opportunity to showcase their talents. Head coach Travis Green will be going in the opposite direction on Monday, with a handful of veterans expected to play this time around.
One of the most notable names on that list is rookie forward Vasily Podkolzin.
The former 2019 first rounder looked steady throughout training camp, and appears to be on track to crack the team’s top-nine if he continues at this pace, especially given his strength, hockey IQ and lethal release with the puck.
Podkolzin is expected to play on a line with J.T. Miller and Conor Garland, who will also be making his official Canucks debut tonight. This trio has been fairly quiet during the scrimmages and drills so far, but could very well be an option for Green and his coaching staff if they want to keep Miller at centre.
In addition to Podkolzin, fans and coaches will also be able to get a better look at forward Will Lockwood. The former third round pick excelled throughout training camp with his tenacity, speed and fitness, and could make an even stronger case for a fourth-line position with a solid outing on Monday night.
Bo Horvat will be the other top-six centre suiting up on against Calgary. Outside of Tanner Pearson, the 26-year-old captain has definitely had his fair share of wingers on his flank over the past few seasons, and will likely have yet another newcomer on his line in either Lockwood, Zack MacEwen or even Alex Chiasson, who just recently signed a PTO with the Canucks last week.
Fans will also get a chance to see Oliver Ekman-Larsson patrol the blueline for the first time in blue and green colours. Ekman-Larsson has been under the microscope since Thursday after he struggled mightily during the team bag skate. However, the former Arizona Coyote still believes that he is in good shape despite his training camp performance, and is looking to bounce back both offensively and defensively with his new team.
Tonight’s preseason match will also be another good test for Tucker Poolman, who inked a four-year, $10 million deal this past summer after spending four years in Winnipeg. Poolman, a right-handed shot who clocks in at 6’2″ and 200 pounds, was a prototypical defensive defenceman with the Jets, only amassing one assist in 39 games this past year. The former fifth round selection mainly played with Josh Morrissey, both at even strength and on the penalty kill, but didn’t perform very well in either situation.
Despite his poor analytical profile, Poolman is expected to be used for similar roles in Vancouver, especially on the penalty kill given the departure of Alex Edler. Poolman will also likely start the season partnered with Ekman-Larsson on the team’s second-pairing. Factor in the unknown return timeline for fellow right-handed blueliner Travis Hamonic as well, and fans should definitely expect to see a high amount of ice time for Poolman, whether they like it or not.
On a more positive note, fans can expect Jack Rathbone to make his second straight appearance on the blueline. Rathbone was one of the better players on Sunday night, opening the scoring on a partial breakaway in the first period while also securing the shootout win, and is well on his way to replacing Olli Juolevi as the third-pairing, left-handed defenceman.
Fans could also get another look at goaltender Arturs Silovs, who is likely expected to share the net with fellow prospect Michael DiPietro. Silovs impressed during Sunday night’s contest against Seattle, including this highlight-reel robbery on former Canuck Jared McCann.
According to TSN reporter Salim Valji, former Boston Bruin Dan Vladar is expected to be in between the pipes for the opposing Flames. Based on the morning skate rushes, Calgary will opt to go without their top line of Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan and Elias Lindholm.
Shortly after sharing the official roster list, the Canucks also announced that they will be recognizing Truth and Reconciliation Day during Monday night’s contest, with both Horvat and Green emphasizing the importance of supporting and honouring our local Indigenous communities.
Puck drop is set for 7:00pm PST at the Abbotsford Centre. Fans can stream the game through the official Canucks website.
Are you excited for tonight’s preseason contest? Let us know in the comments below!