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Mike Gillis & Francesco Aquilini on the air as Canucks face the Lightning

October 11, 2018, 2:24 PM ET [404 Comments]
Carol Schram
Vancouver Canucks Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
Thursday October 11 - Vancouver Canucks at Tampa Bay Lightning - 4:30 p.m. - Sportsnet 360, Sportsnet Pacific, Sportsnet 650

Vancouver Canucks: 3 GP, 1-2-0, 2 pts, fifth in Pacific Division
Tampa Bay Lightning: 1 GP, 1-0-0, 2 pts, sixth in Atlantic Division

The Tampa Bay Lightning are coming off a four-day layoff as the play host to the Vancouver Canucks in just their second game of the season on Thursday.

In their lone outing of 2018-19 so far, they eked out a 2-1 shootout win over the Florida Panthers last Saturday. Rookie Anthony Cirelli scored the only goal in regulation, then J.T. Miller and Nikita Kucherov finished it off in the shootout.

The layoff has given the Lightning time to get a little bit healthier. Tyler Johnson was injured midway through preseason and missed opening night, but will be ready to go tonight.

A few weeks before last season's trade deadline, the Lightning handily dispatched the Canucks twice in the space of five days—by a 4-2 score at Rogers Arena on February 3, then 5-2 at Amalie Arena on February 8.

After their deadline moves, their lineup is now even more loaded thanks to the addition of Miller and Ryan McDonagh from the New York Rangers. Another ex-Ranger, Ryan Callahan, is still on injured reserve after offseason shoulder surgery.

Here's how the lines are projected for the Lightning tonight:

Once again, Andrei Vasilevskiy gets the not in net, while Anders Nilsson will make his season debut for Vancouver.

We haven't seen Nilsson since Vancouver's preseason shutout loss to the Edmonton Oilers on September 25, when he gave up six goals on 35 shots. He was also in net for the 4-2 home loss to the Oilers one week earlier so all told, he came out of preseason with a 5.09 goals-against average and .821 save percentage.

Tonight's game against Tampa Bay's sharpshooters will be a test—and Travis Green is opting to go with the same six defensemen that gave up five goals against the Hurricanes on Tuesday.

Green skated 13 forwards Thursday morning and wouldn't verbally commit to his lineup, but it looks like Tyler Motte is in on the top line—worth a short, to see if he can help Horvat and Boeser defensively.

Given that Brendan Leipsic's audition on the top line lasted just one period on Tuesday, I'm not surprised to see he's the most likely scratch. At this point, my guess is that he could be the player who hits the waiver wire when Antoine Roussel is ready to return, if the team stays healthy.

The big buzz around the Canucks on Wednesday afternoon was Mike Gillis' in-depth two-hour interview with Matt Sekeres and Blake Price on TSN1040. It was Gillis' first media appearance since he was fired by the Canucks near the end of the 2013-14 season.

If you'd care to read a summary, you can click here for Harrison Mooney's synopsis from The Province or here for Daniel Wagner's breakdown over at the Vancouver Courier—or skim back through yesterday's comment section, where Vantel kept us up to date.

If you want to hear the interview firsthand:

My biggest takeaway is that after four years out of the game, Gillis is coming back onto the scene because he wants to be considered for a job with the Seattle expansion team.

There is precedent for this maneuver. Gillis' former right-hand man, Laurence Gilman, parlayed a series of 1040 appearances last season into a new gig in Toronto—as the Maple Leafs' assistant general manager and GM of the Toronto Marlies.

I don't think there was anything toooo shocking or inflammatory, but I don't think it's a coincidence that Canucks owner Francesco Aquilini booked a spot on the rival airwaves on Sportsnet 650 on Thursday morning.

Aquilini did insist that his ownership group has never blocked a trade and announced—as expected—that Daniel and Henrik Sedins' numbers will be retired next season as part of the 50th anniversary celebration.

He also opened the door for the first time to the prospect of moving the Utica Comets closer to home—an idea that was always kiboshed by Trevor Linden.

Aquilini declined to get into further details on what happened with Linden's departure, but did confirm that at this point, he will not be replaced:

For the full audio from Francesco:

I'll wrap up today by sending it back to Tampa Bay, where Elias Pettersson will have a chance to continue to chase a franchise record:

With that, you're up to date. Enjoy the game!
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