The Vancouver Canucks desperately need a win.
The team has struggled quite a bit since returning home from their road trip, posting two consecutive losses to kick off their seven-game homestand. As a result, Vancouver’s record has fallen to 3-4-1, knocking them down to sixth in the Pacific Division, and there’s no doubt that the players will be looking to bounce back in a big way against the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday night.
The Canucks shook things up on Friday, practicing at 8 Rinks in Burnaby in front of a handful of fans. Like he did on Thursday night against Philadelphia, head coach Travis Green continued to fiddle with his line combinations, hoping that the changes will spark some sort of offensive breakthrough.
Friday’s practice finally showed us the reunion of Elias Pettersson, J.T. Miller and Brock Boeser. The trio hasn’t played much together over the last several contests, large in part to the absence of Jason Dickinson at the centre position, but it appears that Green might roll with the Lotto Line to see if it can spark any productivity from his stars.
The bench boss also made a change on the wing, demoting Conor Garland to the third line with Dickinson and Vasily Podkolzin. It’s been an interesting homestand for Garland, who had his six-game point streak snapped against Minnesota on Tuesday night, while also failing to find the scoresheet against the Flyers.
Garland hasn’t necessarily played poorly at Rogers Arena this season, especially when you compare his on-ice contributions to the rest of the forward group, but it seems that Green wants to send a message to the former Arizona Coyote.
Garland only played 10:37 on Thursday night, the lowest TOI in his early Canucks tenure.
Matthew Highmore and Justin Dowling did not participate in Friday’s practice. Dowling was listed as week-to-week prior to Vancouver’s home-opener, while Highmore left Thursday’s contest with an undisclosed injury.
Nic Petan was called up in relief for the injured Highmore. Petan skated as an extra on Friday, but could crack the roster if Dickinson doesn’t feel 100% during warm-up.
It also appears that the Canucks might be without some regular personnel on the backend.
Tucker Poolman was able to hit the ice with his teammates on Friday, but skated as an extra alongside Brad Hunt. Poolman left Tuesday night’s contest with an undisclosed injury, and was unable to play on Thursday as a result, but it appears that the blueliner will be a game-time decision for the second consecutive night.
As a result, Luke Schenn found himself back on the second pairing with Quinn Hughes, while Jack Rathbone slotted back into the line-up after being a healthy scratch on Thursday. The Boston native skated with Kyle Burroughs on the team’s third defensive pairing.
Thatcher Demko will be between the pipes once again, facing off against Mikko Koskinen for the first time this year.
The Canucks also made some surprising changes to their powerplay units during Friday’s practice, promoting Boeser, Garland and Tanner Pearson up to the primary unit, while moving Miller, Horvat and Alex Chiasson down to the secondary unit.
Rathbone and Oliver Ekman-Larsson served as the blueline quarterbacks, something we haven’t seen from Vancouver’s special teams all year.
It won’t be an easy contest for the Canucks on Saturday night, as they’ll need to find a way to not only slow down Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, but to also figure out their own offensive chemistry amongst the top-nine rotation.
Puck drop is set for 7:00pm PST.
What are your thoughts heading into game three of the homestand against Edmonton? Make sure to drop a comment below!