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Vancouver Canucks Game Day: Halak’s Start, Hot Topics

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Vancouver Canucks, pregame
A Vancouver Canucks pregame at Rogers Arena last week.

Jaroslav Halak gets the start Tuesday night for the Vancouver Canucks against the Ottawa Senators. According to Sportsnet TV’s Dan Murphy, it sounds like Thatcher Demko may be ill, so Spencer Martin has been called up from Abbotsford to potentially serve as tonight’s back-up.

“We’ve got two good goalies, we might as well use them, especially coming down these last five games, you never know, “Demmer” (Thatcher Demko) might have to play all five,” Canucks Head Coach Bruce Boudreau said Tuesday morning. “He’s (Halak) been playing pretty solid, so that’s an advantage for us.”

The Senators will counter with their current back-up, probably not an option when the season started, Filip Gustavsson, who carries a goals against average of 3.78 and a save percentage under .890. Original season number-one Matt Murray is on injured reserved while Anton Forsberg started and lost 4-2 against the Seattle Kraken on Monday night.

“It’s huge,” said Senators Head Coach DJ Smith. “It’s a playoff game for Vancouver, they absolutely have to have it. It’s a great game for us. I’m happy they won last night and that they need this, it’s gonna be a great buzz in there, and it’s a pressure filled game. So for a young guy (Gustavsson), it’s a great test.”

Apparently Ottawa is relishing the spoiler role. At least their head coach is.

“We’ve seen Ottawa, anyone who’s watched them against Canadian teams, knows that they get up for every Canadian team that they play,” Boudreau pointed out. “They can either be really good, or they can be normal, I don’t think they were great last night (in Seattle) so I expect them to be really good tonight.”

The Senators feature a dynamic group of young scorers in Brady Tkachuk (60 points), Josh Norris (51 points), Drake Batherson and Tim Stützle (52 points).

“They’re all young, and everyone knows that Ottawa is going to be a team to contend with in the very near future, but we’ll definitely talk about those players tonight, and we have to pay a little special attention and we’ll try to match up against them as well as we can,” Boudreau said.

Following Monday night’s 6-2 win over the Dallas Stars, the Vancouver Canucks sit four points out of third place in the Pacific Division (LA Kings) with a game in-hand and five points out of a wild card position. Both Dallas and the Nashville Predators have 91 points, the Canucks 86.

You can also listen to a preview of the game here, with a lively discussion on all things Vancouver Canucks with myself Rob Simpson, and Rob Fai, on the latter’s Sports Bar Radio podcast. It’s a good one – click here.

VHN Managing Editor Rob Simpson has been covering the NHL for three decades on live TV, radio, and as a journalist. He worked his first ever game getting postgame sound as a teenager; it was Vancouver vs. Detroit.

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