Thursday November 12 - Vancouver Canucks vs. Carolina Hurricanes - 7 p.m. - Sportsnet Pacific, Sportsnet 650
Vancouver Canucks: 31 GP, 15-12-4, 34 pts, fifth in Pacific Division
Carolina Hurricanes: 31 GP, 19-11-1, 39 pts, third in Metropolitan Division
The Vancouver Canucks will look to get back into the win column when they host their third-straight Eastern Conference opponent on Thursday night at Rogers Arena. The Carolina Hurricanes will make their only appearance of the year as the Canucks host their annual First Nations Celebration Night.
Thursday's contest will wrap up a four-game homestand that has seen the Canucks go 1-2-0 so far, with losses to Edmonton and Toronto and a win over Buffalo.
The Hurricanes are a formidable opponent this season, and traditionally give Vancouver trouble. They've beaten Vancouver in their last three meetings since being shut out 3-0 by Jacob Markstrom on December 5, 2017, and dished out a beatdown that foreshadowed some of the Canucks' recent trouble holding leads when they stormed back to score six third-period goals and change a 5-2 Vancouver lead into an 8-6 loss in Raleigh three years ago, on December 13, 2016.
Though they're not getting as much attention for their Storm Surges as they did last year, they're still doing them — and their home record is 10-5-0 so far. Last Saturday, they took inspiration from Star Wars Night after Sebastian Aho picked up his third career hat trick and the Canes beat the Minnesota Wild 6-2.
After choosing to avoid RFA uncertainty by signing the offer sheet worth $8.454 million a season with the Montreal Canadiens on July 1, then seeing the Hurricanes match it, Aho has five goals and seven points in his last two games to give him 18-11-29 so far on the year. That projects to 48 goals and 77 points for the year, which would leave him just shy of last season's 83 points, but would be an easy career high in goals after he hit 30 for the first time last season.
The good news for the Hurricanes this year — Aho has plenty of help. He's fourth in team scoring behind Andrei Svechnikov (34 points), Teuvo Teravainen (31 points) and Dougie Hamilton (30 points).
Yes, Svechnikov is now a point ahead of Elias Pettersson in the sophomore scoring race — and he's just three points away from matching his entire output from last season. Teravainen's slightly ahead of pace to match his 76-point output from last year, and Hamilton's on track to crush his previous bests of 18 goals from last season and 50 points from 2016-17 in Calgary. He's flying under the radar because John Carlson's year in Washington has been absolutely ridiculous — he's now up to 45 points in 33 games, sixth overall in the league.
That all adds up to an offense that's tied with Vancouver for eighth-best overall in the league. Both teams have scored 101 goals in 31 games. The Canucks have the better power play — third at 26.7 percent while Carolina is sixth at 23.7 percent — but Carolina's penalty killing is now three and a half points better and their defense is also stronger. They're tied for seventh overall with 2.74 goals against per game, while Vancouver is now 17th at 3.03.
That's true despite some so-so numbers from starter Petr Mrazek, who's 13-6-1 but has a 2.60 goals-against average and a relatively humble .903 save percentage. But Mrazek hasn't given up more than four goals in a game this season, and has allowed two or less in nine of his 20 starts, including two shutouts.
Speaking of goalies, some unexpected news from the Canucks' side of the equation.
Sutter will not play. Demko suffered a concussion in practice yesterday, Mikey D being called up. Ferland not in protocol but having symptoms and seeing specialist. #canucks
So — I expect we'll see Markstrom vs. Mrazek tonight.
This is also a shift in messaging from Wednesday on both Micheal Ferland...
And Benning on Micheal Ferland: “He doesn’t have another concussion; that’s not the problem. We’re hoping to do whatever we need to do from an organizational standpoint to help him get better because I think we’re a better team with him in our lineup."
#Canucks Sutter says he had hoped to play vs Leafs, but wasn't quite ready after skating Tuesday morning. Experienced some tightness that kept him on IR for another day. Targeting tomorrow night vs Carolina
Though Sutter told reporters he considered himself a game-time decision on Thursday, Travis Green said he wouldn't play — and Adam Gaudette would, even though he missed the morning skate. The sense also seems to be that even though Jalen Chatfield took a regular rotation in line rushes, he'll be scratched again as the team goes with its usual rotation of defensemen.
Got all that?
Seems like we have hit that point in the season where I spend more mental energy combing through the Canucks' roster updates than doing anything else. But before I sign off today, I'll link you to my new story on Peter DeBoer's firing in San Jose:
Now up at @ForbesSports — Add Peter DeBoer's name to the list of NHL coaches who have become unemployed over the last three weeks.
I was surprised. Doug Wilson has been San Jose's GM since 2003 and has never let a coach go during the season before. The last time it happened with the Sharks was when Darryl Sutter was fired in December of 2002. Kevin Constantine also got the boot on December 1, 1995.
But with the standings both tight and very fluid in the Pacific Division, the Sharks went 0-3-1 on their recent road trip and are now setting up for a seven-game homestand — which includes a visit from Vancouver on Saturday. Wilson also had a pretty good alternative already on staff in Bob Boughner, who has both hands-on experience with the Sharks as an assistant coach *and* recent NHL head-coaching experience.
Calgary has gone 6-0-0 since assistant coach Geoff Ward took over from Bill Peters, which has shuffled the deck in the Pacific yet again. As some of you were discussing in the comments in the last blog, the Sharks are now the fifth team in the Pacific Division to change coaches since Travis Green was hired by Vancouver in the summer of 2017 — when Rick Tocchet also joined Arizona and Gerard Gallant got rolling with the brand new Vegas Golden Knights.
Gallant has officially held his position 13 days longer than Green, who is now the 12th-longest tenured coach in the league as he prepares for his 196th career game behind an NHL bench tonight. Rod Brind'Amour, in just his second head-coaching season, is already in 14th as he prepares for his 114th game with Carolina.
The Sharks are currently just two points behind the Canucks in the standings. If they start to right their ship too, that'll add yet another degree of difficulty to a potential playoff push by Vancouver.
Translation: two points needed tonight. Enjoy the game!