RECORDS: Hawks 6-3-3 Canucks 7-6-0
PUCK DROP: 9pm
THEY DON’T THROW GARBAGE ANYMORE: Nucks Misconduct
It still doesn’t feel right. This trip is supposed to take place at the end of November. That’s when the Hawks go to Western Canada. That’s how it always was. It was understood. There was a rhythm to this.
But thanks to Rocky Wirtz making the (correct) decision to do away with the circus (though maybe not for the right reasons but whatever), the “Circus Trip” is no more and the Hawks are headed to the land of darkened arenas and misplaced Olympic bids now instead of on either side of Thanksgiving. They’ll kick it off tonight in Vancouver, where the memories of past epic battles and triumphs are starting to fade and yellow. That wouldn’t be a bad way to describe the opponent, either.
The Canucks will tell you they’re in a rebuild, and that’s partially true. The Children Of The Corn have toddled off to wherever strange twins go (Argentina, boss?), and the Canucks are moving into a new era. And they have found some young players where you can see the foundation of something at least useful could be built upon. The new toy is Elias Pettersson (WHO WANTS TO WALK WITH ELIAS?!), 2017’s first-round pick. He joins last year’s phenom Brock Boeser. So does Adam Gaudette, who made Dylan Sikura look like something we should care about last year at Northeastern. Bo Horvat continues to have an upward trajectory that no one really saw coming. Troy Stecher on defense is at least a piece if not a big one. Quinn Hughes likely is that big piece on defense when he joins next year. They’re not bereft of hope.
But those kids are surrounded by some of the dumbest-ass signings and trades which make you wonder what it is exactly they’re trying to do here. Here’s a tidy list: Loui Eriksson, Brandon Sutter, Jay Beagle, Antoine Roussel, Sam Gagner, Erik Gudbranson (twice!), Michael Del Zotto. And none of these guys were just one-year signings that they hope turn into gold at the deadline. These were part of a plan, or something they thought was a plan, or maybe just part of a ton of shit being thrown at a wall (which is how Canucks fans celebrate and court the opposite sex, as we know).
Not that if the Canucks used all that money wisely they would be a contender. But they’d be better positioned when they are one, that’s for sure.
Anyway, for tonight the Canucks also come in pretty beat up. Baertschi, Beagle, and Sutter are all out, depriving them of a whole line. Christopher Tanev and Alex Edler and his amazing rising elbows are both out as well, taking their top pairing away. Which means Ben Hutton and Gudbranson have to fill in there. Might have something to do with them losing three of their last five, and one of those wins was a shootout.
For the Hawks, there don’t appear to be too many changes other than Marcus Kruger might pay the price for his penalty-happy ways lately. This seems a touch short-sighted, as Kruger is just about the only one not giving up better chances than he’s on the ice for, especially given the dungeon zone-starts he gets. But it’s one game, so we’re not going to sweat it too much. Perhaps Jan Rutta slots back in after being banished to a timeout on Sunday after his magic show for a confused cat on Saturday, replacing Brandon Davidson. EAT ARBY’S.
The Canucks only threat is Pettersson and Boeser. And they are heavily sheltered, starting 80% of their shifts in the offensive zone. Q might be loathe to do it, but it would make sense to use Toews in his own end more than most of this season to keep the two kids quiet. It’s certainly beyond SuckBag Johnson or David Kampf. If you can keep the Vancouver’s top line off the scoresheet, it’s hard to see where else they’d get it unless you really fuck up and Corey Crawford has a full-body dry heave in net.
It was a disappointing weekend for the Hawks, and they’ll need to make up for it on this trip. While we’ve been slightly encouraged by the Hawks’ start, it still leaves them behind four teams in the Central and you’d have to think this is the pace that’s going to be necessary all season to be relevant. The Oilers and Flames don’t suck out loud but can be had. The Canucks very much so. Get it while you can.
Game #13 Preview Suite