The Vancouver Canucks are looking to end their homestand on a winning note.
The team is gearing up to play their seventh straight game at Rogers Arena on Tuesday night, facing off against Ryan Getzlaf and the Anaheim Ducks.
It’s been an interesting stretch of home games for the Canucks, with the club only having secured four of a possible 12 points, including three consecutive one-goal losses to round out the month of October.
It hasn’t been all downhill for Vancouver, who are coming off an impressive 6-3 win over the Dallas Stars on Sunday night. The team has also steadily improved their 5-on-5 gameplay over the last several contests but, at the end of the day, it doesn’t help when you’re getting repeatedly burned by your penalty kill, while also continuously relying on the highlight-reel services of Thatcher Demko between the pipes.
The Canucks took to the ice on Monday morning for their last home practice, hoping to make some final adjustments before Tuesday night’s contest.
As expected, head coach Travis Green didn’t alter his forward lines much at all, sticking with the combinations that provided the offensive outpour against the Stars.
Captain Bo Horvat will once again center a line with Tanner Pearson and Nils Höglander. The trio has been one of Vancouver’s more consistent combinations this season, providing energy and physicality every time they hit the ice, while also finding their way onto the scoresheet. Horvat led the charge on Sunday, posting one goal and two assists, while Pearson followed up with a primary assist.
Höglander didn’t register a point on Sunday, but the young Swede was able to draw to separate penalties, and continues to play well beyond his 5’9″ stature against his often bigger-bodied opponents.
The Lotto Line was also able to rediscover their dominant point production on Sunday, with Brock Boeser, Elias Pettersson and J.T. Miller combining for seven points. It’s been an up-and-down ride for Vancouver’s top line, who haven’t been able to maintain much offensive chemistry in the early goings of the year, but hopefully that’s behind them now, particularly on the man advantage.
Miller led the way with two powerplay goals, while Boeser and Pettersson were each able to contribute a powerplay assist of their own.
It appears that Green will also be rolling with Jason Dickinson, Conor Garland and Vasily Podkolzin the third line. It’s been a disappointing start for the former Dallas Star, who has only scored one goal in 10 contests with his new team. Dickinson, who was acquired via trade this past offseason, isn’t necessarily known for his goal-scoring abilities, but Vancouver is still hoping that he can bring more to the third-line centre role.
Fortunately for Dickinson, he’ll once again get the opportunity to play alongside two talented wingers in Garland and Podkolzin on Tuesday night, which could really help to elevate his game.
Garland and Podkolzin turned heads on Sunday night, with both forwards putting their skill, speed and hard-hitting determination on display. The duo was eventually rewarded for their efforts, combining for a highlight-reel, 2-on-1 goal where the assist was just as good, if not better, as the finish.
Justin Dowling, Juho Lammikko and Justin Bailey are expected to round out the fourth line. Dowling played just over eight minutes on Sunday after returning from injury, while Lammikko suited up for just under 10 minutes, including 2:22 shorthanded.
Alex Chiasson also skated on the fourth line wing during practice and could serve as a replacement for Bailey, who only played 4:47 on Sunday. Chiasson didn’t take part in powerplay drills for the secondary unit, but could slot back into the line-up to help the abysmal penalty kill.
Green also didn’t make too many adjustments on the back-end, with Oliver-Ekman Larsson, Tyler Myers, Quinn Hughes and Tucker Poolman assuming their expected positions in the top-four. Poolman’s stock has taken a hit over the past few contests, as indicated in his overall TOI and frequent third-pairing demotions, but is expected to start Tuesday’s contest with Hughes.
Despite his rotating defensive partners, Hughes still led the charge in points and TOI on Sunday, registering three primary assists over 22:48.
Travis Hamonic rounded out the bottom-pairing, practicing with both Kyle Burroughs and Brad Hunt. Burroughs had his fair share of struggles on Sunday night, which was highlighted by his poor defensive positioning that led to Dallas’s second goal of the game, and could find himself in the press box for Tuesday’s game as a result.
This will likely be Hamonic’s last game with Vancouver for the next little while, as the 31-year-old will be unable to travel with the team for their upcoming three-game road trip.
The team also held an optional morning skate on Tuesday. Following the practice, Green confirmed that Jaroslav Halak will get the nod between the pipes. Like Demko, Halak has also performed well when given the call, but hasn’t received any offensive support from his teammates.
Halak currently holds a 0-2-0 record with a 2.07 GAA and .917 SV%. The 36-year-old will likely be going up against John Gibson, who is coming off a 4-1 win against St. Louis on Sunday.
Not many people predicted that these two teams would be where they are after the first 12-13 games of the year. Anaheim currently sits third in the Pacific Division with 15 points in 13 games, led by Troy Terry and his 11-game point streak.
Meanwhile, Vancouver is trying to claw their way out of the Western conference basement. They are currently sixth in the division with 11 points in 12 games.
Puck drop is set for 7:00pm PST.
What are your thoughts heading into the final game of the homestand? Drop a comment below!