The Vancouver Canucks are gearing up for their most important game of the year.
The team is coming off an absolutely dismal road trip, collecting zero out of a possible six points in truly embarrassing fashion, and will be looking to kick off their next homestand on a winning note on Wednesday night.
The bad news? They’ll be facing off against the Colorado Avalanche, the same squad that kickstarted their downward spiral with a 7-1 beatdown last week.
Colorado should be fairly well-rested coming into Rogers Arena, having only played one game since last Thursday, tripling up on San Jose by a score of 6-2. The Canucks, on the other hand, surrendered 12 more goals between Vegas and Anaheim over the weekend, while also continuing to struggle mightily in the special teams department.
Vancouver took a much-needed day off on Monday before hitting the ice again on Tuesday. Like we’ve already seen so many times before, head coach Travis Green rolled out different line combinations during practice, hoping any change would light a fire under his players.
Based on the line rushes, it appears that the bench boss will be reuniting Elias Pettersson, Brock Boeser and J.T. Miller on the Lotto Line, while captain Bo Horvat will once again center Tanner Pearson and Nils Höglander.
Höglander was easily Vancouver’s best player during their road trip, amassing four goals and one assist, and will be hoping to continue his offensive production with Horvat and Pearson.
Pettersson, on the other hand, hasn’t faired so well on the scoresheet. In his first 16 games, the young Swede has only registered three goals and six assists, and is still looking for his first even strength tally of the season.
Vasily Podkolzin, Conor Garland and Jason Dickinson will round out the third line. Tyler Motte will also be in the roster for the second time this season. Motte missed the first 14 games of the year recovering from offseason neck surgery, and will return to his usual position on the fourth line and penalty kill.
Vancouver will also have the services of Travis Hamonic on the blueline. The 31-year-old didn’t travel with the team due to his current vaccination status, but will likely be reunited with Quinn Hughes in the top-four defensive core. Hamonic did not play in Abbotsford while his team was on the road as he was struck in the face with a puck.
Thatcher Demko will be back between the pipes after sitting out Sunday’s contest in Anaheim. The 25-year-old had been lights out prior to the road trip, but was unfortunately burned with 13 goals from Colorado and Vegas, bringing his record to 5-6-1 with a .898 SV% and 3.33 GAA.
Of course, the players’ offensive production is just a small fraction of the team’s extremely dire situation right now, even if they haven’t been able to rise to the professional standard that comes with their jobs.
Given its current losing culture, the organization will also need to decide if it’s time to make some long-overdue cuts in the front office and/or the coaching staff.
According to insider Elliotte Friedman, Canucks’ owner Francesco Aquilini and General Manager Jim Benning met privately on Tuesday afternoon to discuss what needs to be done to resurrect this team.
Unfortunately for fans and media alike, it appears that Aquilini and Benning won’t be executing any quick actions any time soon. Instead, they’re going to let everything play out on the ice for the remainder of the month and then react accordingly from there.
What that means for the future of this organization is, quite frankly, anyone’s guess at this point. Over the better part of a decade, this current ownership and managerial group have been extremely tight-lipped when it comes to their thought processes or long-term planning, and it appears they’ll be exploring the same, frustrating route for yet another tumultuous breaking point for the franchise.
To no one’s surprise, tickets are still available for Wednesday night’s match-up against Colorado. Puck drop is set for 6:00pm PST.
What are your thoughts heading into this game? Make sure to drop a comment below!