The Vancouver Canucks finally get to play an NHL game again, barring any postponements in the next 24 to 36 hours. They’re set to host the Ottawa Senators on Saturday night, a team that last played on New Years Day and lost to the Toronto Maple Leafs 6-0. The Senators game in Seattle was postponed last night, as was the game Monday at home against the Minnesota Wild.
Prior to that one-off against the Leafs on the holiday, Ottawa sat through six postponements after losing in Philadelphia to the Flyers 4-3 in overtime on December 18th. Their last victory came on December 14th in Florida, 8-2 over the Panthers. Hmmm. While we’re figuring that out, and waiting for a few more Senators to trickle back from Covid protocol …
Let’s Skate ! …
Speaking of protocol, it’ll be interesting to see which Vancouver Canucks reappear at practice today (Friday). Based on informal team chit-chat, we’re at least expecting to see the return of forwards Brock Boeser and Phil Di Giuseppe. Not sure about Jason Dickinson and Justin Dowling. Elias Pettersson officially joined the Covid list on Wednesday while Alex Chiasson narrowly avoided it on Thursday.
The Canucks need to make up six postponements at some point, including the home game from two nights ago scheduled against the New York Islanders. The BC Boys have kept up the good spirits during this choppy stretch that has seen them go 10-1-and-1 in their last dozen games. That includes an 8-0-and-1 record under new head coach Bruce Boudreau.
Looming in the not-so-distant future is a bear of a road trip that includes the following stops: Tuesday in Sunrise against the 22-7-and-5 Florida Panthers. Two nights later in Tampa against the defending Stanley Cup champs who are actually two points ahead of their cross-state rival Cats on top of the Atlantic Division.
The fun continues two nights after that on January 15th in Raleigh against the Carolina Hurricanes, the team with the best winning percentage in the NHL at .758%. The very next night the Canucks pop into the US capital to take on the Metropolitan Division leading Washington Capitals (48 points) who own a 22-9-and-4 record.
The magical mystery tour wraps up January 18th in Nashville against the surprising Predators who are on a Vancouver-like run of 8-1-and-1 in their last ten matches. Yes, they’ve played a handful of more games than their division rivals, but they still manage to sit on top of the Central with 46 points. Finnish goalie Juuse Saros has been a stud.
By the way, when the Canucks get home, they have those Panthers, the St. Louis Blues and the Edmonton Oilers all swinging through over a tidy little five night window.
Is it a stretch to say January could make or break the Vancouver Canucks season? Maybe not, depending on whether a potential positive or negative swing is dramatic. Honestly, a .500 record over that eight-game stretch would be terrific and keep playoff hopes alive. Anything below that, let’s say well below that, and those hopes could be extinguished.
With all the Covid dodging and the roster in’s and out’s, this season couldn’t get any weirder.
Oh yeah, sorry, there was last season.
Enjoy the Hockey Action !!