Bouncing Back

Thomas Drance
September 12 2011 01:58PM

Today the Canucks prospects will lick their wounds after a 7-2 butt-kicking at the hands of Anton Lander and the Edmonton Oilers prospects, and prepare for game two of the young-stars tourney. Later this afternoon (4PM PST) the Canucks rookie's will face-off against the prospects from the Calgary Flames organization - who themselves are coming off a tough 6-1 loss to the collection of young-stars/future chokers from the San Jose Sharks. Tonight's game will be televised on RSN, and will also be live streamed at canucks.nhl.com.

The Lineup

The Canucks haven't given much indication about what their lineup will look like this evening, but we do know that in net Karel St-Laurent will start and David Honzik will back him up. Karel St-Laurent looked solid in relief of Honzik last night, so it'll be interesting to see how he manages over a full sixty minutes. Honzik is a talented player, who probably deserves a shot to rebuild some confidence - so it wouldn't surprise me if he was thrown back into the net for at least a period this evening.

Though the Canucks are being coy about their exact lineup - I'd expect the majority of the 9 Canucks skaters who didn't play yesterday (but who skated this morning) to dress this evening. That list includes the following skaters:

  • Antoine Roussel
  • Stefan Schneider
  • Andrew Smith
  • Steven Janes
  • Ryan Harrison
  • Kellen Tochkin
  • Marc Anthony Zanetti
  • Craig Duininck
  • Ian Saab

Beyond those names, we'll hopefully see Jensen and Archibald - who seemed to have some chemistry - skate together again tonight. Same goes with Sweatt and Schroeder, who, considering their experience, have to show better over the balance of this tournament than they did last night. The invitee who I'm most interested to watch is Ryan Harrison, a diminutive center from Kelowna. He's not a point per game producer at the WHL level, but I've heard he's exciting to watch play, and at the very least he won't fight anyone.

On the blueline, we know that Yann Sauve will play, and we suspect that at least two of Duininick, Saab and Zanetti will get the call as well. I'm hopeful that we'll get to see some more of Kevin Connauton and Sebastian Erixon because - despite last night's atrocious team defensive performance - their play was enticing.

The Opposition

In contrast to the Canucks secrecy - the Flames have announced the majority of their lineup for this evening. Let's check in with Patrick Steinberg, who broke down the Flames expected lineup over at Flamesnation.ca:

  • Patrick Holland-Max Reinhart-Sven Baertschi
  • Michael Ferland-Dustin Sylvester-Bryan Cameron
  • Logan MacMillan-Gaelan Patterson-Blake Gal
  • C.J. Severyn-Justin Dowling-Turner Elson

Sylvester, Cameron, MacMillan, Severyn, Dowling, and Elson will all play for the first time in the tournament. I'm interested to watch Cameron specifically, as he had a difficult transition to the pro game last year with Abbotsford. After scoring 53 goals in his final year of OHL hockey, he had just six with the Heat last season...

On the blueline the Flames will go with T.J Brodie, Reid Jackson, John Negrin, James Martin, Peter Kosterman (who surprisingly doesn't write for Grantland) and Chris Breen. In net, Flames prospect Joni Ortio who was lit up by the Sharks young-stars team yesterday - in similar fashion to David Honzik - will get the start and a chance at redemption this evening. 

What to Look For:

1. Now that Darren Archibald has everyone all excited after his performance in the yesterday's game against the Oilers young-stars - can he build off that 'success'? If he can continue to play physically, make smart plays and forecheck hard while potting a few goals - he may be able to make the big-club out of camp. It's not the most realistic scenario, but stranger things have happened.

2. Redemption in net. While Joni Ortio - who let in six goals yesterday - starts for Calgary, David Honzik - who similarly allowed six goals yesterday - will begin the game riding the pine for the Canucks young-stars team. Will Honzik play a period in the game, and get a chance to rebuild his confidence? Don't be surprised, or upset, if it happens.

3. Kevin Connauton has been challenged by Dave Gagner to take on a leadership role with the young-stars team. Though he showed some promise yesterday, and often looked dangerous rushing the puck, he may have tried to do much and shot a bit too often and early yesterday. Perhaps those were just the jitters that accompany the first game of a tournament like this, but it would be nice to see Connauton calm down, bite off a bit less, and simply put together the type of game he's capable of.

4. The Experienced Rookies. Bill Sweatt is 23 year old, meaning he's four years older than Anton Lander, and five years older than Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. The time is now for a prospect like Sweatt, and he was way too invisible in yesterday's outing, especially when you consider his age. Schroeder is 21, but with a full year of AHL experience under his belt, he's also among the "veteran" rookies on the Canucks young-stars team. Though Schroeder had some fine moments yesterday, he disappeared in the second period when the game was decided. More is expected from these two.

5. The invitees. The Canucks dressed very few invitees in yesterdays game against the Oilers, and will be expected to dress more tonight against Calgary. Will someone unexpected step up and make an impression? My money is on Harrison.

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Thomas Drance lives in Toronto, eats spicy food and writes about hockey. He is an NHL News Editor at theScore, the ex-managing editor of CanucksArmy.com and an opinionated blowhard to boot. You can follow him on twitter @thomasdrance.
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