The Vancouver Canucks roll into Florida as they continue their east coast tour. This will be their third game in a row on the road, after falling to the Flames and Hurricanes in their last two games. Following Tampa, they go to Miami where they’ll face the Panthers. That isn’t the end of their trip. They must go to Pittsburgh next, and on the way back home, the Canucks make a stop in Winnipeg for the final leg of their seven-game road trip.
That’s hard on any team, but for a club that isn’t good at all, and will rank at the back of the league come the end of the regular season, this isn’t a good way to pick up momentum. They did defeat the Flames in the opener in Vancouver, but quickly got blasted by a score of 7-4 in Calgary a couple days later.
The Hurricanes exploited their weak defence in their next outing, as they fell in Carolina, 5-3. Jacob Markstrom got exploited pretty hard in that one, but it seems like most goaltenders in the NHL are having a tough time finding the puck to open the year. However, Markstrom does have an excuse in the sense that the defence in Vancouver ranks as one of the worst across the NHL. Yeah, Markstrom isn’t great and there are much better netminders out there, but lets take a step back and look at their defence before Canucks’ fans crucify him.
Thatcher Demko is waiting to get the call up to the NHL. He is supposed to be their future, but he’s still young and needs time to develop. Also, throw him out there with this defence and the fans will criticize him as well. While the Canucks are in the middle of a grueling road trip, the Lightning have basically been sitting back and hanging out. They’ve played in just one game thus far, a 2-1 shootout win over the Panthers on Friday. Conversely, the Canucks have already played three games. Head below for our free Canucks vs. Lightning pick for Thursday in the NHL.
Vancouver Canucks vs. Tampa Bay Lightning Pick
It’s likely going to get worse before it gets any better for the Canucks this season. And that goes for this entire season in Vancouver. The first season without the Sedin twins isn’t going to be pretty. The first night may have provided a false sense of hope. The positive for the Canucks that there is talent here to build around. Bo Horvat and Brock Boeser should combine to be a powerful due for years to come. However, Boeser hasn’t started out this season well, though.
The 21-year-old has been shutout of the goal column, as he has just 1 assist to show for his efforts in 2018-19. The Canucks are going to have to score a lot to pick up the slack for their anemic defence. They’ve allowed 12 goals in the last two days, 7 to the Flames and 5 to the Hurricanes. Now they play the Lightning who finished 1st in the league a season ago, with 3.54 goals per game.
Note that Tyler Johnson will return to the lineup tonight. He isn’t as important as Stamkos or Kucherov in Tampa, but still provides an important cog at centre. The Lightning have beaten the Canucks in three straight games by 5-2, 4-2, and 4-2. Tampa have won seven of the last ten meetings.
Vasilevskiy has been good against the Canucks in his career with a 2.29 GAA and 0.915 save percentage. On the other side, Markstrom has struggled with a 3.29 GAA and 0.886 save percentage. On a road trip, the Canucks likely aren’t going to have their feet under them against a fresh Lightning squad. They should be able to get to the Canucks for a 2 or 3 goal win on Thursday night.