Gameday Preview: Vancouver Canucks vs. Seattle Kraken (February 21st)

Jan 1, 2022; Seattle, Washington, USA; Seattle Kraken right wing Joonas Donskoi (72) and Vancouver Canucks defenseman Quinn Hughes (43) battle for the puck during the second period at Climate Pledge Arena. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Brashear-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 1, 2022; Seattle, Washington, USA; Seattle Kraken right wing Joonas Donskoi (72) and Vancouver Canucks defenseman Quinn Hughes (43) battle for the puck during the second period at Climate Pledge Arena. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Brashear-USA TODAY Sports /

Can the Vancouver Canucks continue their winning ways in the Pacific Northwest rivalry?

After an embarrassing 7-4 loss to the Anaheim Ducks on Saturday night, the first game in front of a full capacity crowd in over two months, the team will be looking to bounce back against the Seattle Kraken on Monday night.

It’s been a tough month for the Canucks who, despite having secured six out of a possible 12 points in February so far, have also barely been able put together a full 60-minute performance against their opponents.

As a result, the Canucks still remain sixth in the Pacific Division with a mediocre record of 23-22-6. The team is also seven points back of the Edmonton Oilers, who currently hold the second and final wild card spot in the Western Conference, in addition to having a game in hand.

Monday’s contest marks the third meeting between these two clubs, but the first one north of the I-5. Seattle was originally scheduled to come to town in late December, but the game was rescheduled due to COVID-19.

Fortunately, the Canucks are miles ahead of Seattle in the standings but, at this point in the campaign, there’s no room for error on any given night. Seattle currently sits third-last in the league with 36 points, only ahead of the Arizona Coyotes and Montreal Canadiens.

The Canucks hit the ice again on Monday morning, giving both the media and the fanbase a glimpse of who we could expect to play later that day.

As we’ve seen many times before after a big loss, head coach Bruce Boudreau opted to make some big changes to his forward group, particularly in top-six.

The biggest promotions went to Conor Garland and Tanner Pearson, who skated alongside J.T. Miller on the top line. The duo was one of the only bright spots on Saturday night, combining for two goals and two assists against Anaheim.

Garland, in particular, has been impressive as of late, recording five points in his last five games. The 25-year-old also seems to like playing against Seattle, having registered two goals and one assist in the previous two games at Climate Pledge Arena.

Vancouver won both of those contests, with Garland notching the game-winning goal back on October 23rd, 2021.

Boudreau also decided to reunite Elias Pettersson, Vasily Podkolzin and Nils Höglander on the second line. The trio has shown flashes of excitement and offence over the past few weeks, especially from Pettersson, who has undoubtedly bounced back with 15 points in his last 14 games.

However, if the Canucks want to make any sort of playoff push down the stretch, they’ll need more from their two young players, who have combined for three points this month.

With Höglander, Podkolzin and Pettersson rounding out the top-six, Boudreau was forced to move Bo Horvat and Brock Boeser down to the third line with Jason Dickinson.

Boeser has shown signs of his old self over the past few outings, have recorded five goals and four assists in his past nine games, but the team definitely needs more from Horvat, who has only accumulated three points this month, with 2/3 coming on the man advantage.

Boudreau also had to make noticeable changes on his blueline.

With Kyle Burroughs reportedly out week-to-week with broken ribs, the 67-year-old bench boss turned to veteran Brad Hunt, who skated on the third pairing with Luke Schenn during practice.

The team also called up Madison Bowey from Abbotsford to join the taxi squad. In any other situation, Jack Rathbone would’ve likely been the best recall, but the young defensive prospect is still sidelined after being crunched into the boards last week.

The Canucks did receive some good news on the backend, as Oliver Ekman-Larsson was able to participate in line rushes on Monday morning. The 30-year old veteran left late in the third period on Saturday night and was seen limping down the tunnel, but fortunately appears to be okay.

Ekman-Larsson had surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee back in 2019, so we’ll all be keeping tabs on that. He is also expected to anchor the second powerplay unit.

As expected, Thatcher Demko will get the nod between the pipes for the 39th time this season. Demko only played 25 minutes on Saturday night after being hung out to dry by his teammates, and will be looking to improve upon his 2.67 GAA and .916 SV% against Seattle.

Puck drop is set for 7:00pm PST at Rogers Arena.

Next. Betting odds and predictions vs. Kraken (February 21st). dark

What are your thoughts heading into Monday night’s geographical match-up? Let us know in the comments!