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Canucks Fan Access?, The Young Baltic Line, New NHL Schedule

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Vancouver Canucks, Brock Boeser
Vancouver Canucks forward Brock Boeser redirects in the game winning goal in the 3rd period against the Nashville Predators on Tuesday.

As the Vancouver Canucks briefly settle in for what they hope will be three home games over the next week, the questions will revolve around fan access and capacity. There appears to be no chatter that these games will be postponed due to capacity issues as the NHL is starting to run out of new places on the calendar to put them. They’ve eaten up a decent portion of what used to be known as the Olympic break.

Who Plays When?

The Vancouver Canucks will now deal with officials from the province of British Columbia on the ongoing issue of capacity at Rogers Arena. In the last two days BC has extended its restrictions on bars and event gatherings indefinitely. Rules were supposed to lighten up Tuesday night. Depending on how those conversations go, we could see half a crowd, a quarter crowd, or no crowd at all on Friday when the Vancouver Canucks host the Florida Panthers.

Given the lack of predictability with Covid variants, who knows if we’ll see a game at all.

Nothing is out of the question and nothing is truly known until it happens. Just ask Vancouver Canucks Head Coach Bruce Boudreau as it relates to cross-border Covid protocols. Forward Conor Garland, back-up goalie Jaroslav Halak, and captain and leading goal scorer Bo Horvat all tested positive during the five-game road trip that finished Tuesday night with the Canucks 3-1 victory in Nashville.

“I have no idea what the border rules are, how long they have to stay,” Boudreau said postgame. “I would really love to be able to sound intelligent and give you a day when they’re coming back, but I don’t know as of this moment.”

The overall theme for most Covid subject matter around the NHL is “your guess is as good as mine.”

However, we do expect to see an updated NHL game schedule on Wednesday. We’re not sure if that includes all of the make-up dates or just some of them.

The Baltic Line

It happened accidentally. With Horvat succumbing to a positive Covid test before the Predators game and having to miss it, Elias Pettersson went from being a winger back to being a center. It worked out very well when Boudreau put together two Swedes and a Russian; Pettersson, Nils Höglander and Vasily Podkolzin. “The Baltic Line” is a catchy geographic reference that could stick if the threesome can continue to do what they did last night.

“Especially in the second period,” Boudreau said. “It’s amazing what a little confidence can do. When Elias Pettersson scored that goal and “Pods” and “Hoagie” got an assist, it seemed like their whole mindset jumped up and played at a level they hadn’t played at in a few games. Sometimes getting a point here and a point there, it’s really good for your mindset, especially for young players and they showed it today.”

They showed speed, quickness, and creativity and at times dominated offensive zone puck possession time. Höglander even looked more confident at the other end of the ice, at one point blocking a centering pass and a shot in the same shift.

No doubt, given their energy and cohesiveness, this would be a fun unit to watch.

Well, Lookie Here

The Vancouver Canucks sit in 6th place in the NHL’s Pacific Division, one point ahead of the … Edmonton Oilers. Yes, the Oilers have four games in-hand on the Canucks, but holy cannoli, what a visual. Edmonton had been running away with the division in November, now they’re only ahead of the Seattle Kraken.

The Vancouver Canucks and Edmonton Oilers are slated to meet at Rogers Arena next Tuesday, January 25th, the final game of Vancouver’s mini three-game home stand. The Panthers on Friday and the St. Louis Blues on Sunday proceed it.

See you at the rink. We hope.

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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