The Vancouver Canucks skate at 3 pm Monday. A bit of an odd time – couple theories – either because some private event was going on at the building Sunday and they’re flipping it back to ice, which is highly doubtful, or the team just wanted to have Monday to come back to town instead of returning on Sunday for those who departed, or something is happening with the club in the am. Hmm. Or they’re just practicing in the afternoon. While we wait, it’s your turn …
Let’s Skate! …
Getting Started up Nord
Just two games Monday in the National Hockey League, both involving Canadian teams. The Toronto Maple Leafs host the Metropolitan Division leading Carolina Hurricanes and the Ottawa Senators host the floundering New Jersey Devils, losers of six straight games.
Quite the statement game coming out of the ‘2nd half’ blocks as Toronto looks to slide up the Atlantic Division standings. Keep in mind, because of games in hand, the Leafs actually control their own destiny for the division title. As good as the first place Florida Panthers have been with their NHL leading 69 points, they’ve played five more games than the Maple Leafs who are eight points behind in third place. Toronto also has four games in hand on the second place (66) Tampa Bay Lightning.
For the Vancouver Canucks on Tuesday in their return to Rogers Arena it’s not so much a ‘must win’ game as it is a ‘simply can’t lose’ game against the Arizona Coyotes. The Coyotes are 11-30-4 on the season and there’s no leeway, the Vancouver Canucks simply can’t afford to leave those two points on the table. No excuses, the Canucks return with almost all of their line-up intact.
The Philadelphia Flyers have a big decision to make. Keep their captain Claude Giroux or trade him as he winds down the final year of a contract paying him $8.725-million this season. The team is awful, the 34-year-old probably won’t get another crack at the Stanley Cup if he sticks around the ‘city of brotherly love’, and the franchise could use some changes.
That said, Giroux is a career Flyer, having arrived in the spring of 2008 out of the Quebec League, having helped the team reach the Stanley Cup Final two seasons later, and having been compared to Bobby Clarke in terms of the pure heart and soul nature of his Flyers existence. Having the Hall-of-Famer and former two-time Stanley Cup captain Clarke compare Giroux to himself, as he has in the past, was considered the ultimate compliment in Philadelphia.
Giroux earned NHL All-Star Game MVP honours on Saturday. Was it a curtain call, a tip of the cap to his great run as a Flyer? We’ll know in the next six weeks.
Pacific Division Strength
From one potential former captain to an actual former captain looking to start throwing his weight around. And his talent. Former Buffalo Sabres captain Jack Eichel, who was traded to the Vegas Golden Knights back on November 4th just before undergoing artificial-disc replacement surgery on his neck, should be ready for full contact in practice this week and should be donning the team colours for real in the next two weeks.
Vegas Hockey Now includes Eichel in their entertaining NHL All-Star weekend tidbits. Since Vegas was hosting, apparently some of their equipment was hanging around, so Tom Wilson of the Washington Capitals decided to use one of Eichel’s sticks. Why not?
“[Eichel] is one of the best skaters I’ve ever seen, easiest skaters I’ve ever seen,” Vegas captain Mark Stone told NHL.com. “I think he’s going to help in pretty much every part of the game. He’s going to help us score goals, he’s going to help on the power play, [present] matchup problems. You’re adding one of the best centermen in the world into your lineup.”
Enjoy the Hockey Action !!