The Vancouver Canucks are in Buffalo for an early start, and are hoping to get a familiar and integral part of their lineup back tonight.
Brock Boeser, who went down with an undisclosed injury during the preseason, has been skating with the main group since last week, but has yet to make his season debut.
Unsurprisingly, the Canucks have missed Boeser’s presence on the first line.
They went ahead and moved J.T. Miller — who spent all of training camp and the preseason at centre — back to Elias Pettersson’s wing to reunite two-thirds of the Lotto Line when the season began.
But they were missing Boeser, and weren’t getting the results they wanted throughout the rest of the lineup.
Head coach Travis Green moved Miller back to centre during the game against Detroit, and based on yesterday’s practice line rushes, he’ll stay there tonight.
The Canucks held an optional morning skate this morning in Buffalo. Here’s what we saw.
Quinn Hughes, who took a maintenance day Monday in Detroit and wasn’t on the ice for practice, attended the optional morning skate this morning.
Boeser was also on the ice this morning. At practice yesterday, he skated in line rushes rather than as the extra forward, indicating he’s extremely close to returning.
Because there was no morning skate, it’s difficult to project the Canucks’ exact lines, but it is certainly interesting that the Canucks didn’t jump at the chance to reuinte the Lotto Line once Boeser got healthy enough to take part in line rushes.
The other interesting thing to note is that Alex Chiasson — AKA Mr. PP1 — skated as the extra forward yesterday. Could he be the odd man out when Boeser returns to the lineup?
What was said
Playing his cards close to his chest as always, Travis Green said the only lineup note he could provide was that Thatcher Demko is starting tonight.
Green said Boeser is close, and also offered up his reasoning of why he likes having Jason Dickinson and Juho Lammikko on the same line together.
“Just a heavy line,” said Green. “Lammikko and Dickinson are both heavy guys who understand both sides of the puck. Highsy [Matthew Highmore] also understands that side of the puck, I think it’s a line that in that game we trusted — they played well in the offensive zone as well. It’s nice having a line like that that you can throw on the ice at any given time.”
Tanner Pearson had a glowing review for Vasily Podkolzin.
“He’s a big strong kid. Look at him, he’s a unit.”
We see no lies.
Pearson also talked about the importance of the Canucks coming out firing right away, and not allowing themselves to start the game on their heels.
We’ll see if the Canucks are able to come out on top tonight as they battle the 2-0 (yes, really) Buffalo Sabres.
Puck drop is at 4 PM from the KeyBank Center in Buffalo.