September 28 2009 11:05AM
The Vancouver Canucks pre-season finally wrapped up last night with an overtime loss to the Edmonton Oilers.
Later today, the Canucks are expected to announce their final cuts and assignments to pare down their roster to their opening day line-up.
So, who do we expect to see on Thursday? Here's my prediction for the opening night line-up against the Calgary Flames.
With Demitra and Mathieu Schneider out of the line-up for a few weeks, there are a couple of roster spots open. For now, I believe that Sergei Shirokov has done enough to prove that he is the best choice to fill in Demitra's top 6 roster spot, while Cody Hodgson will be with the team in the press-box. I think that it is important to get Hodgson some playing time in the next two weeks, and I think that he and Shirokov will be swapped in and out of the lineup to give each of them 4-5 games. Hodgson will be sent down to Brampton once he reaches the nine-game limit, but he will get a taste of real NHL hockey for the first couple of weeks. I fully expect Hodgson to fight tooth-and-nail to get himself back in the Canucks' roster this season. He is clearly dissatisfied with his play thus far, and the Canucks coaching and management staff has been blunt with their assessments of Hodgson's play. He will be looking to redeem himself as soon as possible.
As for the defence, O'Brien gets the nod for the sixth defenceman, with Brad Lukowich joining Hodgson on the outside, looking in. Lukowich hasn't done enough to impress this pre-season. In fact, it's highly possible that Lukowich gets sent down to Manitoba once Schneider returns.
Just like Hodgson and Shirokov, I think that O'Brien and Lukowich will swap in and out of the line-up over the next few weeks, as Lukowich attempts to crack the squad permanently.
Will this be the opening day roster against Calgary? This is only my opinion.
More importantly, we're all just excited that we get to finally see the Canucks play hockey that matters, starting in three days.