It’s no secret that the Canucks are the underdogs in any matchup against the mighty Tampa Bay Lightning. But given their recent records heading into tonight’s meeting, the Canucks have narrowed the gap ever so slightly.
In another harsh reminder of what the last few years have been like, the last time
the Lightning came to Vancouver they were still four months away from becoming the first President’s Trophy winners to not earn a single playoff victory.
Tonight, the Bolts return to Rogers Arena as two-time defending Stanley Cup Champions, albeit a group feeling gassed from a gruelling recent schedule.
While the Lightning have lost three straight games in Western Canada, including a 4-1 decision against the Edmonton Oilers last night, Vancouver has been on a points heater. Even with a 4-3 overtime loss to the Capitals in the rearview mirror, the Canucks are riding a four-game points streak into the most crucial week of their season.
Let’s see how the Canucks line up against the defending Champions tonight.
The Canucks held an optional morning skate today after practicing yesterday. Only Elias Pettersson was not at today’s skate, with Sheldon Rempal taking his place during drills.
Boudreau has shuffled his top two right wingers, moving Conor Garland to J.T. Miller’s wing and putting Brock Boeser next to Rempal and Nils Höglander. Rempal has been one of two Sheldons leading the Abbotsford Canucks’ scoring attack, with 48 points in 41 games, including 23 goals. The 26-year-old right winger may make his Vancouver debut tonight, but with Pettersson just taking a maintenance day, Rempal’s spot would likely come elsewhere.
Thatcher Demko is expected to start in goal for the Canucks, with Andrei Vasilevskiy manning the pipes for the Bolts.
What Was Said
For Sheldon Rempal, the possibility of stepping into NHL action during a push for the postseason isn’t lost on him. “I’m just trying to come in here and fill a role if they need it,” Rempal said.
“It’s a tight race in the playoffs right now. So you can just see the guys there grinding every day. So, you know, I want to I want to come in and try to step up and help these guys.”
When asked what’s been working for him in the AHL, Rempal kept it simple. “Just moving my feet, seeing the ice really well. I like to play fast, play with skill and hopefully can produce some offence.”
Even with the Canucks coming off another game where they got off to a slow start and fell behind early, Bruce Boudreau isn’t too worried because of how often his team stays in front with a lead. “There’s been a lot of games where we’ve started out great,” Boudreau said.
“It seems like that outweighs the negative, because when we start out great and get a lead, we usually end up keeping the lead. So I mean with our record, when I can only attest to since I’ve been here, we haven’t been caught from behind too many times.”
The Canucks and Lightning will get underway at 7:00 pm Pacific from Rogers Arena, with TV coverage on Sportsnet Pacific.