The undefeated Canucks get their first real test tonight
The Vancouver Canucks haven’t lost yet, but they haven’t held a lead either. After two come-from-behind victories over Calgary and Carolina -- both of which required overtime -- they’ll get their toughest test of the season tonight at home against the undefeated St. Louis Blues.
“They’re definitely one of the best teams in the league,” Canucks forward Brandon Sutter told TSN 1040 radio this morning. “At least the last five or six years, they’ve been a dominant team in the West. So we expect a hard game. They’re a big team, heavy team, and very good defensively. They’re well-coached, they’re a very good structural team, and those are always the hardest teams to play against.”
Injured for much of last season, Sutter has played the hero twice already. He notched the shootout winner Saturday against Calgary, then scored in overtime Sunday to complete the comeback over Carolina.
But despite the two victories, the Canucks still have much to prove to their many detractors. After all, the Flames and Hurricanes are not the Blues, who are 3-0-0 after beating the Blackhawks, Wild, and Rangers.
Expect winger Jack Skille to replace youngster Jake Virtanen in Vancouver’s lineup. Head coach Willie Desjardins didn’t love Virtanen’s game against the Hurricanes (neither did Joakim Nordstrom, presumably), so Skille will make his Canucks debut on a line with Bo Horvat and Sven Baertschi.
Also, goalie Jacob Markstrom will make his second straight start for Vancouver. That wasn’t the plan originally, but Ryan Miller showed up to the rink “a little tight,” per Desjardins, so Markstrom gets the nod.
Update: Miller won’t dress. Markstrom will reportedly be backed up by 23-year-old Matt Hewitt, the goalie for the University of British Columbia.