Sunday, January 23, 2022

(1-23-21) Blues-Canucks Gameday Lineup

If anyone knows how the Vancouver Canucks feel about a lack of manpower, it's the Blues, tonight's opponent in British Columbia.

The Canucks (18-18-4) host the Blues (24-11-5) at 9 p.m. today (BSMW, ESPN 101.1-FM) and will be without a plethora of regulars due to COVID-19 protocol and injury.

No. 1 goalie Thatcher Demko and forwards J.T. Miller, Conor Garland and Bo Horvat are all out for the Canucks because of protocol, and backup goalie and former Blue Jaroslav Halak is out because of border issues with the US regarding a timeline for protocol, which in Canada remains at a minimum of 10 days; he's in fact out of NHL COVID-19 protocol. 

Also, the Canucks will be missing their third- and fourth-string goalies from the American Hockey League, Spencer Martin and Arturs Silovs due to protocol, so Mike DiPietro will get the start tonight against the Blues and will be backed up by EBUG Rylan Toth.

Remember when the Blues had to go through this similar scenario with an EBUG in Tampa? And remember when the Blues have gone through stretches of having to play guys from the AHL when they'd be missing a handful of regulars?

They know what the Canucks are feeling. It doesn't mean the Blues will take anything for granted.

"When you're missing regulars out of your lineup, sometimes the guys coming in (are) playing a simpler style of hockey and it brings out the best in everyone," defenseman Torey Krug said. "It's something that we've got to be aware of and that being said, if we do our job and take care of business on our side, we'll be in a good chance to win a game. A good test tonight."

And as coach Craig Berube noted with the jammed standings in the Central Division, "Look at the standings guys. That's all the motivation you need, how tight it is and the importance of every game." 

The Canucks have played drastically better since they brought in Bruce Boudreau as coach. 
They are 9-3-2 since they hired Boudreau on Dec. 7 when he replaced the fired Travis Green.
Boudreau is 577-305-117 in 999 games with the Washington Capitals, Anaheim Ducks, Minnesota Wild and Canucks and will be coaching in his 1,000th game tonight in the NHL. 

"Fast hockey. They're looking to transition really quick," Berube said of the Canucks. "They've got some real high-end guys that can move and skate. Hughes on the back end is dynamic. They're playing a fast game. In the offensive zone, they've got a lot of movement. They do a real good job of getting moving around with their guys and it creates a lot of confusion and chaos. (Elias) Pettersson, (Quinn) Hughes, these guys, they got some high-end guys that can make plays. That's the thing that pops out to me the most."

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The Blues are in a similar situation that the Canucks are in with Halak. The Blues will be without forward Pavel Buchnevich, who scored in Friday's 5-0 win at Seattle, due to border restrictions. 

Buchnevich, who was in COVID protocol but came off after the recently-implemented five-day period, is serving the 10th day according to Canada's protocols and could not get into the country with the Blues when they bussed north to British Columbia on Friday night. He stayed behind in Seattle and got in an optional skate today and will skate tomorrow in Calgary prior to the Blues facing the Flames and expected to be in the lineup.

"'Buchy' will be good to go tomorrow," Berube said. "He's doing good. He'll be in there tonight, I think ready to roll.

"He actually had ice there (in Seattle) in the morning. He had the option of going on. Tomorrow he'll get a skate in in the morning with the extra guys."

In Buchnevich's place tonight, Logan Brown steps in after being a healthy scratch and will skate alongside Ivan Barbashev and Vladimir Tarasenko.

"He's a guy we can use in the top nine," Berube said of Brown. "'Buchy' can't play so he has the ability to produce offensively, make some plays. We'll pop him in that hole where 'Buchy' was and see how it goes. 

"He's a guy that's got good puck skills and he's played some good hockey for us. Hopefully we'll see how it goes tonight. He'll be excited to get back in there and make a difference."

- - -

Goalie Ville Husso will get his third straight start tonight against the Canucks.

Coming off a 27-save shutout of the Kraken on Friday, Husso is 4-0-0 with a 1.25 goals-against average and .959 save percentage his past four starts, stopping 116 of 121 shots.

"The way he finished last year, things were rolling for him, and now this year, he's just a confident guy and whenever he gets the chance to play, he does a good job of coming out and giving us a chance to win," Krug said of Husso. "He's been great and obviously we're lucky to have him."

Jordan Binnington was getting in the extra work post-morning skate and is expected to get the nod in Calgary on Monday.

- - -

The Blues will play the middle of a three-game road trip tonight and looking to continue the impressive things they did in a 5-0 win over the Kraken on Friday, a game in which they scored a shorthanded goal (Tyler Bozak), power-play goal (Brayden Schenn), even-strength goal (Buchnevich and Jordan Kyrou) and a penalty shot goal (Colton Parayko) for the third time in franchise history.

"The intensity was really good in that game," Berube said. "Right from the first period, I thought that was one of our better first periods in a while from the standpoint of the intensity and being on our toes, playing hard, physical. I liked our game that way. I think defensively, we checked hard, blocked shots. If you looked at the blocked shots, I think we had 21. I thought we checked really hard in the game and our special teams were good. Penalty kill was excellent, power play got us a goal. That was the biggest thing that stood out to me in that game."

- - -

* Kyrou comes into the game with 15 points his past nine games (six goals, nine assists).

* Krug has nine points (two goals, seven assists) in his past nine games.

* Barbashev has 15 points (five goals, 10 assists) his past 11 games.

* Tarasenko comes in with an eight-game point streak (six goals, seven assists).

* Center Ryan O'Reilly has nine points in his past six games (four goals, five assists), including six points (three goals, three assists) in a three-game point streak.
- - -

The Blues' projected lineup:

Brayden Schenn-Ryan O'Reilly-David Perron

Brandon Saad-Robert Thomas-Jordan Kyrou

Logan Brown-Ivan Barbashev-Vladimir Tarasenko

Klim Kostin-Tyler Bozak-Oskar Sundqvist

Niko Mikkola-Colton Parayko

Torey Krug-Justin Faulk

Marco Scandella-Robert Bortuzzo

Ville Husso will start in goal; Jordan Binnington will be the backup.

The healthy scratches will be Pavel Buchnevich and Jake Walman. Scott Perunovich (undisclosed) remains day-to-day. 

- - -

The Canucks' projected lineup:

Nils Höglander-Elias Pettersson-Brock Boeser

Matthew Highmore-Juho Lammikko-Tyler Motte

Tanner Pearson-Jason Dickinson-Alex Chiasson 

Justin Bailey-Sheldon Dries/-Vasily Podkolzin

Oliver Ekman-Larsson-Tyler Myers

Quinn Hughes-Tucker Poolman

Kyle Burroughs-Luke Schenn

Mike DiPietro will start in goal; Emergency goalie Rylan Toth will be the backup.

Healthy scratches include Jaroslav HalakBrad Hunt and Justin Dowling. Guillaume Brisebois (undisclosed), Travis Hamonic (lower body), Brady Keeper (leg) and Brandon Sutter (illness) are out. Thatcher Demko, J.T. Miller, Conor Garland, Bo Horvat, Spencer Martin and Arturs Silovs are in COVID-19 protocol.

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