There’s nothing like some good Saturday morning hockey for the Vancouver Canucks.
The team will face game three of their five game road trip against Sebastian Aho and the Carolina Hurricanes. It was a good start to the journey, with the Canucks demonstrating speed, physicality and determination against the league’s two best teams in Florida and Tampa Bay.
However, the Canucks failed to score points between those two games, dropping their record below .500 to 16-17-3, and they will try to get back in the standings against the Canes.
The players took to the ice Friday morning to practice at PNC Arena, which allowed head coach Bruce Boudreau to tinker with his roster ahead of the first of their back-to-back games this weekend.
We’ve seen the 67-year-old bank boss experiment with numerous line combinations over the past week, including moving Elias Pettersson back to the left wing and pairing the young guns in Vasily Podkolzin and Nils Höglander, but there’s no doubt his most successful move is the bringing together Tyler Motte, Matthew Highmore and Juho Lammikko.
The trio was Vancouver’s most consistent line on this road trip, combining seven points over the past two games, highlighted by this dazzling score between Motte’s legs to narrow Tampa Bay’s lead early in this third period.
Highmore and Lammikko contributed with the assists.
Don’t get us wrong, it’s great to see consistent fourth line contribution, especially after Boudreau hammered it early in his tenure, but it’s time for the big guns, like JT Miller, Bo Horvat, Brock Boeser and Conor Garland, to rise and carry the offensive charge.
After a combination of 32 points between December 6 and January 1, these four players were left winless in their matchups in Florida. The same goes for Pettersson, who continues to struggle and lack confidence even under the new team’s coaching regime.
However Boudreau decides to assemble his top nine, they will have to find a collective way to get the puck into the back of the net, which will not be an easy task against Saturday’s opponents.
The Hurricanes currently have an average of 2.32 goals per game played, as well as a 90.1% PK conversion rate, putting them both at the top of the league in those respective categories. On the other hand, Vancouver is 28th in the league this season in goals per game played, and has been eliminated from the power play for two consecutive games.
Carolina is also coming off an embarrassing 6-0 home defeat to the Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday, so don’t be surprised if these bunch of jerks show up hungry to win on Saturday.
Boudreau did not announce on Saturday who will be between the pipes, but did confirm that Thatcher Demko will get a day off next weekend. The team’s All-Star rep returned to Earth on this road trip, fell victim to the competition’s juggernauts and set a 0-2-0 record with an 8.26 SV% and 4.11 GAA as result.
Boudreau also said blueliner Kyle Burroughs will be added to the lineup at some point, likely to replace fellow deep-back Brad Hunt.
Puck drop is set at 10:00 AM PST.
What are your thoughts on Saturday morning’s game in Carolina? Be sure to leave a comment below!