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Canucks Sunday: Playoff Hockey, Max Effort, New Line-up

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On Sunday against the Vegas Golden Knights the Vancouver Canucks need to exhibit the type of effort they put forth at Madison Square Garden on February 27th against the New York Rangers, or on March 23rd at Ball Arena in Denver against the Colorado Avalanche, or three nights later against the Stars in Dallas.

Then they need to do it again on Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday.

“I’m trying to stay so focused,” Canucks Head Coach Bruce Boudreau said Saturday, “I find myself not even watching games right now, other than Vegas, don’t want to know what they’re doing because I just want to stay focused on what we have to accomplish.”

There are no excuses. There is no Covid, there is no trade deadline distractions, and there’s been no travel. Just three days of home cooking and preparation for a match the Canucks simply have to win.

The Bug

There has been a little bug bouncing around however. Vancouver forward Brad Richardson missed practice with it on Saturday and he’ll likely miss the game on Sunday. Canucks captain Bo Horvat just got over it.

“A lot better, yeah, obviously it wasn’t fun 48 hours, I would definitely say that, but definitely feeling a lot better now,” Horvat said after practice on Saturday.

The team is referring to it as a stomach bug.

New Old Faces

Canucks forward Jason Dickinson returns to the line-up on Sunday and expects to play for the first time since suffering a lower body injury back on February 24th against the Calgary Flames. During his time off he was eye-balling the Vancouver Canucks schedule and had circled these three upcoming games against the Vegas Golden Knights.

“This is going to be a huge week, we play them three times in ten days and they’re the team, we can really make the (playoff) decision for both of us,” Dickinson said Saturday.

Dickinson skated on a line with Nic Petan and Will Lockwood at practice.

Boudreau also expects right-shot defenceman Tucker Poolman to play, bumping Brad Hunt out of the top three pairs. Righty Kyle Burroughs has also re-emerged as healthy but it appears he won’t crack the line-up just yet.

Quinn Hughes, Luke Schenn

Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Tyler Myers

Travis Dermott, Tucker Poolman

Dented Armour

The Canucks face a Golden Knights team that has been decimated by injuries this season. Captain Mark Stone, veteran sniper Max Pacioretty, and versatile threat Reilly Smith remain out of the line-up. Franchise number-one goalie Robin Lehner has also been hurt, having last played on March 8th against the Philadelphia Flyers.

That said, expect to see a Thatcher Demko versus Lehner in goal this afternoon. Back-up Logan Thompson made 26 saves for the Golden Knights in their 5-2 win over the Seattle Kraken on Friday night. Laurent Brossoit has been on and off the roster for head coach Pete DeBoer.

This will be Vancouver’s first look at Jack Eichel in a Vegas Golden Knights sweater. The former Buffalo Sabres captain came over in a trade in November and then recovered from neck surgery to see his first action of the season back on February 16th. He has 16 points in 22 games with Vegas.

It’s a 4 pm matinee start.

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