Can the Vancouver Canucks extinguish the flames on Thursday night?
The team will be looking to wrap up their homestand on a positive note, taking on Johnny Gaudreau and the Calgary Flames. It’s been a tale of two different clubs during the month of February, with Vancouver going 4-3-0 in their past seven games while also struggling to string together full 60-minute performances.
Meanwhile, the Flames have been red hot, outscoring their opponents by a wide margin of 39-14 during their 10-game winning streak dating back to January 29th, where they beat the Canucks in overtime at the Saddledome.
The Flames currently sit atop the Pacific Division with 66 points in 49 games. Vancouver is 12 points back with three more games played.
The Canucks took to the ice on Wednesday for a full team practice, giving fans and media a glimpse of how head coach Bruce Boudreau was planning to construct his lines ahead of Thursday’s tilt.
As expected, the 67-year-old didn’t make any drastic changes, going with the same line combinations that delivered his team the win against Seattle on Monday night.
Bo Horvat and Brock Boeser remained on the third line with Jason Dickinson, while Tanner Pearson and Conor Garland flanked J.T. Miller on the first line. The only noticeable add was Alex Chiasson, who took turns with Nils Höglander on the second line.
Hoglander has struggled as of late, recording just one assist in his past 12 games. Meanwhile, Chiasson has been decently productive when in the line-up, notching five goals and five assists in 40 games, including six powerplay points.
Boudreau is likely hoping that Höglander can bring up his numbers playing alongside Elias Pettersson, who has essentially established himself as a point-per-game player in 2022.
The most exciting line, however, should be the fourth line of Tyler Motte, Juho Lammikko and Matthew Highmore. The trio has been excellent lately, combining for 10 points in the past four games, while also providing grit and energy every time they hit the ice.
With Kyle Burroughs and Tucker Poolman still sidelined with injury, Boudreau will also be forced to go with Brad Hunt and Travis Hamonic on the third-pairing.
To no one’s surprise, Thatcher Demko will get the nod between the pipes. The 26-year-old, who will be doing his best Kirk McLean equipment impression on Thursday night, has been the team’s MVP for majority of the year, and will be looking to build upon his 20-16-2 record.
Aside from the return of the black skate jersey, the Canucks will also be welcoming back a few familiar faces in Jacob Markstrom and Chris Tanev, who have impressively excelled with their new club.
The team will also get a chance to say hello to Tyler Toffoli who, after signing a four-year deal with Montreal back in June 2020, was recently acquired by the Flames for their playoff run.
Toffoli still has two years remaining on that contract.
Puck drop is set for 7:00pm PST, marking the first of three times that these two teams will face off against each other between now and April 23rd.
What are your thoughts heading into Thursday’s divisional tilt? Make sure to drop a comment below!