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Canucks AM Skate: Demko All-Star, NHL Skills!, Canadian Gals

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Vancouver Canucks, Thatcher Demko
Vancouver Canucks and NHL All-Star goaltender Thatcher Demko.

Apparently Vancouver Canucks goaltender Thatcher Demko will get his All-Star opportunity early as the Pacific Division is slated to take on the Metropolitan Division in the first 3-on-3 game of Saturday’s NHL All-Star affair in Las Vegas. Not as early as his crease partner John Gibson however, as it appears “Gibby” gets the start. Demko will play the second ‘half’. The winner of that match-up will take on the winner of the Central Division versus Atlantic Division game that follows. Look for a noonish pacific start to the festivities. While we’re waiting …

Let’s Skate ! …

Wary Gary

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman had a somewhat ominous message to the provincial governments in Canada, essentially saying the NHL teams north of the border are losing their butts financially because of Covid restrictions and the league might have to pull the plug on conducting the NHL Draft in Montreal this summer.

“If, in fact, the current restrictions remain in place, not only can’t we have fans, I don’t think we can have all the NHL and club personnel we need to conduct the draft,” Bettman told the gathered media in Vegas on Friday.

While the Vancouver Canucks, via the Province of British Columbia, presently have 50-percent capacity limits in place at Rogers Arena, other Canadian NHL venues including Montreal continue to ban fans altogether.

While that sounds a bit like a subtle threat from the NHL’s boss man, let’s take an optimistic position. He’s talking about the summer. Heck, the Canucks are hoping their rescheduled games from December can be made up in front of packed houses as early as this month. We shall see.

Flourishing Skills

Not a huge fan of the NHL Skills Competition because essentially if you’ve seen one, or two, or ten, you’ve seen ’em all. That’s why it’s always been fun to give away my Skills tickets to two unsuspecting local fans who otherwise wouldn’t get a chance to see it. Usually a father-son combo and usually ones hanging around the NHL Fanfest area. Anyway, point is, the best part of NHL All-Star weekends are the parties.

Wait, no, that’s not the point. The point is, I’m not that crazy about the skills competition, but I will share the results of two of the events from this year because they’re rather intriguing.

The hardest shot competition is intrinsically cool and doesn’t take too long. The top-3 finishers:

Victor Hedman, Tampa Bay Lightning, 103.2 mph, Adam Pelech, New York Islanders, 102.2 mph, Tom Wilson, Washington Capitals, 101.1 mph.

The all time record still belongs to Zdeno Chara, 108.8 mph in 2012.

Meanwhile, Jordan Kyrou, who Canucks fans had a chance to watch on January 23rd when the St. Louis Blues visited Rogers Arena, pulled off an upset in the fastest skater competition, beating a field that included three-time champ’ Connor McDavid. The top-4 finishers:

Kyrou, St. Louis Blues, 13.550 seconds, Adrian Kempe, Los Angeles Kings, 13.585, Chris Kreider, New York Rangers, 13.664, McDavid, Edmonton Oilers, 13.690

Canada Romp Part 2

The women’s version of Team Canada kicked arse again in Beijing to quickly up their 2022 Winter Olympic record to 2-and-0 with an 11-to-1 victory over Finland on Saturday. “Spoons” continues to be hot. That would be veteran forward Natalie Spooner who added four assists to the five points she picked up in the team’s 12-0 opening win over Switzerland. Her nine points leads the tournament.

For the second game in a row Sarah Fillier and Laura Stacey scored two goals each.

It’s Sunday there now; later today the Canadians take on the Russian squad.

Last Grades

Vancouver Hockey Now (VHN) has posted midterm grades for the Vancouver Canucks D-men and bottom-6 forwards. You can find the links below. The top-6 forwards report is coming out later today (Saturday).

Looking ahead, the Canucks have three home games during the upcoming week against the Arizona Coyotes on Tuesday, the New York Islanders on Wednesday, and the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday.

Canucks defencemen.

Bottom-6 Canucks forwards.

Enjoy the Hockey Action !!

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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