It’s going to be one of the most important games the Canucks will play this season.
Tonight, the Dallas Stars — who are currently tied with Nashville for the first wild card spot — are in town to battle your Vancouver Canucks, who are winners of their past five games.
The Canucks are rolling and will look to keep it going tonight.
Here’s what went down at morning skate.
Line rushes + PP1 Podz
Morning skate #Canucks lines
— Brendan Batchelor (@BatchHockey) April 18, 2022
The big story tonight is that after losing captain Bo Horvat for what is most likely the remainder of the regular season, the Canucks are getting Brock Boeser and Matthew Highmore back in their lineup.
Both players will make their returns to the lineup tonight — more on Boeser’s injury in the what was said section.
As you may have read in our “Scenes from Canucks practice: Burnaby Edition” over the weekend, Vasily Podkolzin will slot into the bumper position typically occupied by Horvat on the Canucks’ first power play unit tonight.
The move comes as a result of Podkolzin looking more and more comfortable and dominant as the sun begins to set on his first season in the NHL.
“Somebody’s got to replace Bo right? I don’t think anybody can replace him at that spot, because he’s very good at it and he’s great at faceoffs and retrievals,” head coach Bruce Boudreau said at Saturday’s practice. “Pods has been doing pretty well and he’s hot, so let’s see if he can continue it.”
Jake Oettinger starts in goal for Dallas, and Thatcher Demko starts for the Canucks.
We cheated a bit by including a quote in this section, but to be fair, that quote wasn’t from today.
These ones though? Oh yeah, these are all from today.
What was said
Brock Boeser joked that the injury that’s kept him out of the lineup since April 3rd came as the result of Elias Pettersson letting jealousy get the best of him and injuring his teammate.
“I think Petey was just a little jealous that me and Hutty [former Canuck Ben Hutton] were battling together and came flying in there,” said Boeser. “I don’t know, I think I was cross-checking him [Hutton] and Petey came in to hit him and didn’t really hit Hutty, hit me instead.
“It definitely hurt, I think you guys could see that. I was a little worried. I didn’t think about it too much, I didn’t really think I’d be missing time because I played in the third and battled it out, but it was an unfortunate play and I’m just happy to be back now.”
Bruce Boudreau is well aware that the Canucks have a couple of different ways to get into the playoffs.
The most ideal way in terms of quality of opponent is by uprooting the LA Kings for the third spot in the Pacific Division and facing the Oilers in the first round, as opposed to the Colorado Avalanche or (far less likely but still possible) the Calgary Flames.
Regardless, the Canucks coach isn’t worried about how his team gets in. He just wants them to get in.
“Wildcard, division, doesn’t matter — we just want to get in,” said Boudreau. “We know we have to win…at least six of the next seven so that’s the way it’s looking right now.
“It’s like a turtle — like it’s not like the hare right now where all of a sudden you just jump up, it’s a point here and there. These next two games — if we were to be successful — all of a sudden we get right into the pack and then it becomes really interesting.”
Speaking of which, let’s take a gander at the playoff standings heading into tonight’s game, shall we?
The Canucks currently sit just 6 points back of that highly-coveted third spot in the Pacific, currently held by the Kings.
Thankfully, the Canucks have two games in hand on the Kings, and if they win their next two today against Dallas and tomorrow against Ottawa, things — as Boudreau astutely pointed out — will become very, very interesting.
As for the wild card picture, the Canucks really, really need to beat Dallas if they want to stay in the hunt for either spot, but as we said, third place in the Pacific seems not only more attainable, but more ideal when it comes to who the Canucks would match up against in round one of the playoffs.
The common theme? The Canucks need all the wins they can get, and tonight is of the utmost importance.