Canucks Army GDT #12 – Canucks @ Avalanche

The Canucks are in Colorado tonight to take on the Avalanche, who dropped an embarrassing 7 goals on Vancouver the last time the Canucks were in town. Vancouver will be looking to avenge that awful defeat tonight at 6:00 PM PST, and they’ll do it with a shiny new face in the lineup. Yes, Bo Horvat will finally make his NHL debut, but will he be a difference maker?

Read past the jump for a preview of tonight’s game.

Broadcast Info

Puck Drop: 6:00 PM PST

TV: Sportsnet Pacific

Radio: TSN 1040

Lineups

Defensive Pairings
Alexander Edler 
Alexander Edler
Chris Tanev 
Chris Tanev
Dan Hamhuis 
Dan Hamhuis
Luca Sbisa 
Luca Sbisa
Ryan Stanton 
Ryan Stanton
Kevin Bieksa 
Kevin Bieksa

Bo Horvat makes his regular season NHL debut centering the 4th line. Linden Vey takes Jannik Hansen’s spot at 2nd line right wing. Kevin Bieksa will play. Ryan Stanton draws into the lineup in place of Yannick Weber. Luca Sbisa moves into the top-4, alongside Dan Hamhuis. Ryan Miller starts in net.

Defensive Pairings
Jan Hejda 
Jan Hejda
Erik Johnson 
Erik Johnson
Brad Stuart 
Brad Stuart
Nick Holden 
Nick Holden
Tyson Barrie 
Tyson Barrie
Nate Guenin 
Nate Guenin

Semyon Varlamov gets the start in goal. Daniel Briere is a healthy scratch.

Preview

The big story today is obviously the NHL debut of Bo Horvat, who will skate between Derek Dorsett and Jannik Hansen on the 4th line. It’s a fine position to put the young centre in, as he likely won’t be a top-6 guy for 3-4 years anyways (unless his development goes way faster than the average player), and Dorsett and Hansen are, on paper at least, two of the better 4th line wingers in the league. 

Short of a serious injury like what happened to Gilbert Brule, there is basically nothing that Horvat can do tonight that will have any material impact on how we should view Horvat as a prospect. If he’s good, that’s fantastic, but it means nothing. If he’s Luca Sbisa the last time the Canucks and Avs played, that’s disappointing, but it also means nothing. Although I’m sure we’ll be assessing his play each and every shift he takes, we should hold off on seriously assessing Horvat until he’s given his 9-game trial. I mean, we won’t. But we should.

In other news, Kevin Bieksa will draw into the lineup tonight despite taking a puck to the eye on Sunday. He’ll be paired with Ryan Stanton, who draws in the lineup for Yannick Weber, meaning that Luca Sbisa will move into the top-4 with Dan Hamhuis.

You can’t deny that Sbisa has looked awful at times this year with all the giveaways and blown coverages and whatnot, and he reached his pinnacle of suck the last time these two teams met. But, Sbisa also has two goals and an assist at 5-on-5, and has essentially been a possession-neutral player despite slightly defensively-skewed deployments. In short, he’s been an average NHL defenseman playing in a role where most guys are notably below average. To put it another way, he’s been good relative to his peers. 

As for the Avalanche, they’re still terrible. Only the Buffalo Sabres have a lower score adjusted fenwick, and the Buffalo Sabres may be among the worst teams we’ve ever seen. Still, Semyon Varlamov has picked up where he left off last season and given the Avs some fantastic goaltending, which is basically the only thing keeping them out of the Connor McDavid Sweepstakes. And even then, they’re dead last in the Central division.

But this is basically the same Avs team that hung 48 shots and 7 goals on the Canucks in their last meeting, and Nathan MacKinnon has caught fire since then too. However, Vancouver isn’t playing the second half of a road back-to-back this time, so tonight’s game should be quite a bit different than the last time these teams played one another. You can never expect a win in hockey, but I expect that Vancouver should outplay their hosts at the very least.

  • nucksandbolts

    Good to see Stanton draw back in as he should help us when we do the Southern Cali trip.

    With both Anaheim Ducks goalies injured and the #3 man guarding the net, we might have a decent shot there.

    The Kings are getting off to a slow start again and have lost 4 in a row so maybe there’s a chance there as well.

    I think we’re better equipped to deal with the “heavy” teams in Cali this year.

  • BlazingSaitls

    I made a post here a while back questioning the Nucks choice in starting Lack for their first home game. Was met with a back lash stating Lack outplayed Miller in camp was a better goalie, yadda, yadda, yadda.

    Damn that Miller guy is sure over achieving…

  • BlazingSaitls

    Well done tonight in Colorado!

    The one thing that we haven’t seen this year is quit in this team. The Nashville game and through two periods tonight the Canucks were creating chances, they were not getting bounces or The goalies were making good saves. Finally after Danny’s goal with 4secs left the tide turned.

    Canucks are pint the fastest or biggest team, but right now they are playing like a team. With a true #1 line and PP the bottom nine forwards just have to chip in every night and the wins will come. Face offs need to come around and second games of back to backs need work, but other than that the team is playing solid.

    9-3 w Miller 9-1 not bad. I really want them to do well in Cali….. I hope they take the challenge head on!