St. Louis Blues (2-2-1) at Vancouver Canucks (4-2-0)
When/where: Friday, 7 p.m., Rogers Arena
TV: SN Pacific. Radio: Sportsnet 650
The buzz: The Canucks come home riding a high — not only have they won two straight, but they put together their most impressive performance on their five-game road trip last Tuesday. They controlled the entire flow of that game, a 3-2 win over the Nashville Predators. The Canucks are well-rested after their road trip and will host a Blues squad that lost in Winnipeg on Tuesday and played in Calgary on Thursday night.
The history: It’s the first time these two squads have met this season, but these are two coaches who know each other very well. They were roommates when they were teammates on the Philadelphia Flyers in the late-1980s. Craig Berube won a Stanley Cup coaching the Blues in 2019, and the way he wants his team to play is very much how Tocchet wants his own team to play. “He did a helluva job of making every one of them important. That’s what I learned from him. How important the top guys and even the fourth line are,” Tocchet said of Berube.
The hope: The Canucks look to slowly be sorting out their team play. Since yielding a boat-load of scoring chances two weeks ago in Edmonton to the Oilers, the Canucks have gotten better with every game, to the point where they played their most complete game of the year on Tuesday in Nashville. Smart defending, quick breakouts, patience with the puck in the offensive zone, this is how Tocchet hopes his team will continue to play.
The fear: The Blues are coming in Friday a little tired — a classic trap game for a well-rested home team. If you don’t skate hard at them early, they may skate past you by the end.
The top guns: Elias Pettersson has 10 points on the season, J.T. Miller and Brock Boeser have eight apiece. Quinn Hughes looks like a man on a mission every night. The Blues’ offence has looked more like a pop-gun so far this season, with just 11 goals through the first five games of the year (before Thursday in Calgary). Brandon Saad is the only Blues with more than one goal on the season, and he only has two.
The wounded: Canucks: Teddy Blueger (ankle), Guillaume Brisebois (concussion, LTIR). Blues: none.
The quote: “They’re a hard-working team. And they’re like us, you know, they’re trying to find their way, their team identity. They work hard and they got some guys that are going to put the puck in.” — Rick Tocchet
The lineup: Mikheyev-Pettersson-Kuzmenko/Di Giuseppe-Miller-Boeser/Joshua-Suter-Garland/Beauvillier-Lafferty-Höglander/Hughes-Hronek/Cole-Friedman/Soucy-Myers.
The prediction: The Canucks are brimming with confidence. The Blues are still finding their way offensively. Mark this as a fun 4-1 home ice win for Vancouver.
FAN FORUM: Do you have a specific question for a player? Pass it along to @provincesports and we’ll get it in a future edition.
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