Gameday Preview: Vancouver Canucks vs. Seattle Kraken (October 5th)

VANCOUVER, BC - FEBRUARY 19: Olli Juolevi #48 of the Vancouver Canucks shoots the puck during the pre-game warmup prior to NHL hockey action against the Winnipeg Jets at Rogers Arena on February 19, 2021 in Vancouver, Canada. (Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images)
VANCOUVER, BC - FEBRUARY 19: Olli Juolevi #48 of the Vancouver Canucks shoots the puck during the pre-game warmup prior to NHL hockey action against the Winnipeg Jets at Rogers Arena on February 19, 2021 in Vancouver, Canada. (Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images) /

It’s another preseason home game for the Vancouver Canucks.

The Canucks, who are coming off a 3-2 win against the Winnipeg Jets, will be looking to improve on their current 2-2 record against Seattle on Tuesday night and, if it’s anything like the first tilt last week, we could very well see this Pacific Northwest rivalry take off more before the regular season even starts.

The Canucks fell to the Kraken by a score of 5-3 last Sunday. The two clubs were tied 3-3 heading into the third period, but Seattle prevailed in the final frame, thanks to two tallies from former Carolina Hurricane Morgan Geekie.

The Canucks PR team released Tuesday’s roster list through their official Twitter account, giving fans a better idea of who will be playing in the team’s fifth preseason game of the year.

And, once again, all eyes are on defenceman Jack Rathbone.

The 22-year-old Boston native is set to play in his fifth straight game, and officially stands as the only player to suit up for all five preseason matches this year. Rathbone faired well during Sunday night’s contest against Winnipeg, notching three SOG, one takeaway and a plus three rating in just over 20 minutes of ice time. He also logged 2:39 on the powerplay, as well as 1:21 shorthanded.

Despite his current ironman streak, Rathbone knows that he still needs to make the most of every opportunity in order to crack the opening night roster.

"“I think every pre-season game when your name is in the lineup, you’re excited. It’s just another opportunity… Every chance I get, I take advantage of it.”"

Rathbone is hoping to beat out Olli Juolevi and Brad Hunt for the final spot on the team’s third defensive pairing. Juolevi will also be in Tuesday’s line-up, marking his fourth preseason game, while Hunt will have the night off. The 33-year-old veteran suited up in Sunday’s contest, posting a minus two rating in just over 15 minutes of ice time against the Jets.

Rathbone will likely be paired up with Luke Schenn, who is looking to bounce back from Friday night’s contest against the Flames. Juolevi was partnered up with Kyle Burroughs on the third-pairing during the morning skate, leaving Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Tyler Myers as the top defensive unit.

Head coach Travis Green will also be able to get another look at forward Vasily Podkolzin.

The 20-year-old Russian winger has looked steady throughout training camp, but still appears to be adjusting to the North American style of game. Podkolzin should get some playing time in the top-six forward group on Tuesday night, which would be a big test for the former tenth overall pick. Most fans would love to see Podkolzin in the top-nine rotation once the season starts, especially given the rookie’s size, hockey IQ and wicked release, but Green isn’t on the same page just yet.

Podkolzin was skating alongside Justin Dowling and Matthew Highmore on Tuesday morning, both of whom are competing for a spot in the team’s bottom-six forward group.

Forward Zack MacEwen will also be looking to secure a fourth-line position come October 13th. The 25-year-old will be on the third line with Jason Dickinson and Phillip Di Giuseppe.

As expected, the team will still be without Elias Pettersson and Quinn Hughes on Tuesday night. The two young stars finally landed new contract extensions over the weekend, but didn’t get to participate in their first official practice until Monday.

During Tuesday’s media availability, Green noted that Pettersson and Hughes should be in the line-up for the final two preseason games on Thursday and Saturday.

There are still some noticeable absences from the team, including forwards Brandon Sutter and Tyler Motte.

Motte is still recovering from offseason surgery, but has been able to participate in a few light skating drills, while Sutter is dealing with fatigue issues. Both players aren’t expected to be ready for the start of the regular season.

On the blueline, the team is still without defenceman Travis Hamonic, who is dealing with a personal family matter that has kept him back home in Manitoba. Hamonic chose not to opt out of the upcoming season last week, but his return timeline is still very much up in the air.

The team also reduced their preseason roster group on Sunday, sending 14 players back down to Abbotsford. Viktor Persson and Connor Lockhart were reassigned to their respective junior teams.

Like their first preseason match-up, the Kraken will be going with a veteran-heavy line-up on Tuesday night. The NHL’s 32nd and newest team will be rolling out their expected top line in Jaden Schwartz, Jared McCann and Jordan Eberle, and will also have a strong blueline presence with Mark Giordano, Adam Larsson and Vince Dunn.

Phillip Grubauer will be between the pipes, facing off against either Thatcher Demko or Michael DiPietro.

Puck drop is set for 7pm PST, with the game being broadcasted on Sportsnet.

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What are your thoughts on Tuesday’s roster against Seattle? Let us know in the comments!