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Canucks Game Day: Injured Re-appear, Teams Ready to Rumble

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Defencemen Tucker Poolman and Kyle Burroughs and forward Jason Dickinson joined the Vancouver Canucks for morning skate but none of them will play Wednesday night against the St. Louis Blues.

Vancouver Canucks Head Coach Bruce Boudreau said he hopes all three will be eligible to participate in the Sunday afternoon game against the Vegas Golden Knights.

Checking, energy forward Matthew Highmore is likely two weeks away from returning from an upper body injury.

Tanner Pearson, JT Miller, Conor Garland

Elias Pettersson, Bo Horvat, Brock Boeser

Vasily Podkolzin, Juho Lammikko, Alex Chiasson

Nic Petan, Brad Richardson, Will Lockwood

Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Tyler Myers

Quinn Hughes, Luke Schenn

Brad Hunt, Travis Dermott

The Canucks seek revenge against the Blues after Monday’s 4-1 loss in St. Louis. Thatcher Demko will get the start in net for Vancouver against Ville Husso for St. Louis. Husso has beaten the Canucks both times the teams have matched up this season including the January 23rd performance in which he made 38 saves in a 3-1 victory at Rogers Arena.

In that game the Canucks losing goaltender was Michael DiPietro, forced into action following a rash of positive Covid tests that shortened the club’s bench and its goalie stock. Jaroslav Halak took the loss in the game two night’s ago.

“They’re a big, strong team and we didn’t win as many battles as we’d done the previous three games,” Boudreau said about the loss in St. Louis on Monday that finished the four-game road trip. “I just didn’t think our positioning defensively or our discipline defensively was as good as it needed to be against a team that has three top lines, any one of them can score. You have to be very well disciplined in your own zone to defend against teams like that.”

The Blues are finishing up what has been a miserable month of March, giving up goals in bunches along the way and compiling a record of 3-8-1 prior to beating the Canucks. It’s as if Vancouver served as a wake-up call; the Blues saw a hot team coming in on a road trip and stepped up its all-around game.

They expect more intensity in the re-match tonight.

“They’re a real hungry team tonight, I can guarantee that,” Blues Head Coach Craig Berube said after the St. Louis morning skate. “They’re gonna have a lot of desperation in their game, we need to match it.”

St. Louis will attempt to repeat key elements to their effort from Monday.

“We took care of the puck and when we put it behind them we got it back a lot,” Blues captain Ryan O’Reilly said Wednesday afternoon. “Same thing for tonight, again, being smart at the bluelines, getting the puck out and then putting it in behind them again. Getting on the D and forechecking hard, when we do that, force their forwards to stop, it makes it tough on them.”

Also tough on the Vancouver Canucks is the Blues ‘heavy’ nature. St. Louis dominated the hit total and the physical play Monday. O’Reilly expects what could be a chippy affair in the back-end of the home and home. He and Blues defenceman Marco Scandella made reference to the first-round playoff loss to Vancouver two years ago in the bubble and the general dislike that exists between the two clubs. The Blues were defending Stanley Cup champions at the time.

“The playoff series didn’t go the way we wanted it to, they pushed us out of it,” O’Reilly said. “That’s something we think about and I think it’s something you always know when you’re playing this team, it’s going to be a hard game. It’s a fun challenge, but it’s nice to beat these guys.”

— Notes: It’s possible Nils H√∂glander is done for the season with his lower-body injury. He’s considered week-to-week with just a month remaining on the schedule.

— Forward Brandon Sutter, suffering from long-haul Covid symptoms since last spring, has been skating but his imminent return seems unlikely.

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