Canucks Game Day: Shooter draft mates Boeser, Eichel take aim

 

 
 
 
 
Jack Eichel had a four-point outing for the Sabres in their 5-0 demolition of the host Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday.
 
 

Jack Eichel had a four-point outing for the Sabres in their 5-0 demolition of the host Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday.

Photograph by: Bruce Bennett, The Province

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The Vancouver Canucks, coming off Tuesday’s impressive (and unexpected) offensively charged 6-2 win over the L.A. Kings, continue their five-game home stand tonight against their 1970-expansion cousins in the Buffalo Sabres.

Both clubs are firmly in the rebuild mode, with the Eastern Conference cellar-dwelling Sabres (13-26-9 for 35 points) riding relatively high after two wins in Alberta, mostly recently a 5-0 wipeout of the Edmonton Oilers. The Canucks, after Tuesday’s “crowning victory,” are now second from the bottom in the West with a 19-23-6 record for 44 points.

Lottery, anyone? Tonight’s game goes at 7 p.m. (SNETP, SNET 650 AM)

Brock Boeser vs. Jack Eichel

Did you see that quick and accurate release by Jack Eichel on Tuesday in Edmonton where he picked the short side en route to a four-point outing? The second pick in the 2015 draft is 20th in league scoring with 49 points (20-29). Did you see Brock Boeser send that power-play point howitzer short side during his two-goal game Tuesday? The 23rd pick in the 2015 draft is second in rookie scoring with 43 points and tied for seventh in league goals with 24.

1. Horvat makes power play potent

Can one player make a power play difference? He can if he’s Bo Horvat. The centre won 21 of 28 draws Tuesday and his net presence was a big reason the Canucks struck three times. As much as there was sharp puck movement, Horvat’s willingness to get to the net and stay there — he had three scoring chances on one power-play shift — has helped bump the PP up to sixth overall in the NHL at 22.4 per cent.

2. Can Virtanen take another step?

Jake Virtanen bolted through the neutral zone Tuesday and set up Alex Biega on a 2-on-1 rush. He also dropped Michael Amadio on a zone exit, causing a turnover and leading to O-zone time for Nic Dowd. Virtanen had four hits and three takeaways in 12:47. Said Travis Green: “Jake has to find a way to be hard to play against — it’s wanting to be in the battle.” He was.

3. Was that an Eriksson mirage?

Loui Eriksson had a career first period Tuesday. He was engaged. He was fast. He went to the net with purpose. He scored twice and then threaded a great long lead pass to set up Thomas Vanek. He had three points before six minutes elapsed. Is it sustainable or is another long drought around the corner?

4. Status quo, then we’ll know

A six-goal outing Tuesday matched a season high and there was everything Travis Green hoped for. But if it was just a one-off and veterans struggle, will he eventually scratch one? “Yes, I would,” he said. “It hasn’t got to that yet. But we’ve talked to our group internally of what expectations are. For me, a lot of it is compete.”

5. Push-back is a real thing

That Trevor Lewis cross-check that drove Brock Boeser’s head into the corner boards Tuesday was met with a tepid response. Words were exchanged, but nobody went after the Kings’ winger. That’s not good. Boeser is going to be a target most nights. There has to be a push-back.

Daniel Sedin — Henrik Sedin — Brock Boeser

Thomas Vanek— Bo Horvat — Loui Eriksson

Sven Baertschi — Brandon Sutter — Markus Granlund

Sam Gagner — Nic Dowd — Jake Virtanen

Defence pairings

Alex Edler — Troy Stecher

Ben Hutton — Chris Tanev

Michael Del Zotto — Alex Biega

Expected starting goalie: Jacob Markstrom

Backup goalie: Anders Nilsson

Sick bay: Erik Gudbranson (back)

Zemgus Girgensons — Jack Eichel — Kyle Okposo

Scott Wilson — Ryan O’Reilly — Sam Reinhart

Evander Kane — Johan Larsson — Jason Pominville

Jordan Nolan — Evan Rodrigues — Benoit Pouliot

Defence pairings

Marco Scandella — Rasmus Ristolainen

Jake McCabe — Viktor Antipin

Casey Nelson — Justin Falk

Expected starting goalie: Robin Lehner

Backup goalie: Chad Johnson

Sick bay

Jacob Josephson (lower body)

Zach Bogosian (lower body)

Nathan Beaulieu (lower body)

Josh Gorges (illness)

Canucks: 22.4% (6th)

Sabres: 15.6% (26th)

Canucks: 77.9%(26th)

Sabres: 78.3% (24th)

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Jack Eichel had a four-point outing for the Sabres in their 5-0 demolition of the host Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday.
 

Jack Eichel had a four-point outing for the Sabres in their 5-0 demolition of the host Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday.

Photograph by: Bruce Bennett, The Province

 
Jack Eichel had a four-point outing for the Sabres in their 5-0 demolition of the host Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday.
Vancouver Canucks winger Brock Boeser (right) celebrates his first of two goals on the night against the Los Angeles Kings on Tuesday. (Photo: Darryl Dyck, Canadian Press)
Bo Horvat fired up the Canucks’ attack on Tuesday in his first game back at Rogers Arena since being injured, winning 21 of 28 faceoffs and kicking in a pair of assists in the win over the Kings. (Photo: Gerry Kahrmann, PNG Files)
 
 
 
 
 
 
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