Phil Kessel and Ryan Kesler go head-to-head when the Leafs come to Vancouver

Phil Kessel and Ryan Kesler go head-to-head when the Leafs come to Vancouver

Preview: Pavel Bure, the Toronto Maple Leafs, and Vancouver’s night in the spotlight

The Canucks look for their 11th straight win against the Maple Leafs, but they'll retire the Russian Rocket's No. 10 first.

It really can’t get any better than this.

Saturday night is the kind of evening franchises build their entire year around – the kind of evening that actually justifies the the insane rise in Vancouver’s ticket prices.

On the ice, the Canucks are going for their 11th straight win over the surging Maple Leafs, who haven’t beaten Vancouver since George W. Bush was in his first term (that’s actually true). Phil Kessel and his rotation of round table knights goes up against the best first line in hockey, with Ryan Kesler turning the Sedin Twins’ connection into BeastMoDo, and Twins turning Kesler into the scorer we haven’t seen since Game 6 against the Nashville Predators in 2011.

Roberto Luongo faces off against the franchise that almost had him, and GM Dave Nonis returns to Vancouver with Mason Raymond, both of whom should have some measure of revenge – or, at least, vindication – on their minds.

And, yeah, there will be hundreds of Leafs fans in Rogers Arena’s stands. And with the way Vancouver’s corporate crowd sleeps through most home games, you can expect the Buds to be louder than the Whales when the red light goes off behind Luongo, too.

Saturday has all the makings of a Hollywood matinee – a red carpet event in a city that buzzes when it has a chance to strut its stuff on the national catwalk.

Oh, and I haven’t even gotten to the Bure thing…

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