There will be plenty to keep an eye on tonight when the Vancouver Canucks host the Toronto Maple Leafs.
— There are the extra curricular activities:
There was no suspension to Kadri, which obviously disappointed the Canucks.
That third period turned into a throwback to a much grittier era in hockey, with Derek Dorsett fighting Leo Komarov and then Matt Martin grabbing rookie blue liner Troy Stecher in the corner, prompting goalie Ryan Miller to leave his crease and grab Martin, resulting in a heated skirmish. The two teams combined for 171 penalty minutes that night.
It’s no surprise the league and its department of player safety is paying extra attention to this game.
“It was wrong,” Gudbranson told the Vancouver Sun. “But the number of times I’ve said that (on the ice) is probably higher than most would expect. But do I mean it? No. That’s the honest truth. No, I’m not going to kill the guy. That’s insanity. I was just frustrated at that point, and unfortunately it got taken to a level that I didn’t expect.”
— Two teams with apparently different philosophies of how to build a winning team:
The Maple Leafs are in a rebuild. And while the consistency hasn’t been there this season, they’ve proven on a number of occasions to be an exciting team with a very talented, promising crop of young players.
Auston Matthews is the face of this rebuild.
The Canucks, meanwhile, don’t seem to want to venture down the path of an aggressive rebuild. Did we mention they sit 28th in the overall standings? Did we mention they’ve had difficulty scoring? They’re 29th in that category. Did we mention they’ve had their struggles in goal? They have the 29th-ranked save percentage at five-on-five.
Canucks president Trevor Linden discussed the notion of a rebuild in a wide-ranging interview with Sportsnet, but it still appears the Canucks aren’t in favor of such a drastic step.
“What people fail to realize is the older group of players we had here—the Garrisons and Keslers and Bieksas and Higgins and Hamhuises—which are no longer with us, these are good people. These are leaders. Perhaps in Toronto that wasn’t the case,” said Linden.
“We have Daniel and Henrik Sedin here, who are very important to this organization and icons in the city. They’re not going anywhere. I don’t know how I walk into the room and tell these guys, “Strip it down.” I’m not sure it’s fair to these guys. There’s different circumstances, be it in Toronto or Carolina or Vancouver, that require different routes. It’s not perfect, but I’m encouraged by the young players we’ve introduced, and we’ve got some young prospects.”
Indeed, plenty to keep an eye on between these two teams tonight. Plenty to debate, too.