After a lively practice to start their Super Bowl Sunday the Vancouver Canucks will spend Monday away from the rink with two practice days available prior to heading to San Jose Wednesday for Thursday night’s game against the Sharks.
Canucks Head Coach Bruce Boudreau confirmed Sunday that top defenceman Quinn Hughes, still in the United States after testing positive for Covid coming out of the NHL All-Star break, will re-join the team for the Sharks game. The 22-year-old defenceman is second on the Canucks with 34 points (2 goals, 32 assists) with half of those points coming on the power play.
In his absence, veteran Oliver Ekman-Larsson, who used to run the power play in Arizona, has had an opportunity to be the number-one PP quarterback.
“The more we’ve activated OEL the better he’s played,” Boudreau said Sunday. “I think he was under-used at the beginning and not given enough responsibility for a player of his stature and now we are, it’s a good problem to have. We’ll see what happens, we’ll have a lot of conversations before the time that we’re working the power play again when Hughes gets back.”
There’s a calm simplicity to Ekman-Larsson’s approach. He gets pucks to the net, managing to find the time to set up and ‘ready, aim, fire’. The team is 3-for-10 on the man advantage in Hughes’s absence with OEL on the ice for all three goals.
The 30-year-old Swede is up to four goals and ten assists on the season after a very slow start offensively. He’s consistently gotten pucks near the net this season, but just recently the Canucks have started to cash in on deflections and rebounds.
Checking the ‘Tables’
A little Euro’ reference to the standings where the Canucks find themselves just five points out of the 2nd wild card spot in the Western Conference. That with the same number of games played as the team presently sitting in the position, the Anaheim Ducks with their 55 points.
Third place in the Pacific Division also means the playoffs and right now it’s the Los Angeles Kings occupying the spot, also with 55 points. The Canucks have 50.
That said, another team in the chase, the Edmonton Oilers, sit only one point ahead of the Canucks but with four games in-hand. Vancouver would also need to hop over the Dallas Stars; they have 52 points and three games in hand.
All in all, still pretty remarkable considering where the Canucks were sitting back on December 1st. That would be dead last in the division and a non-factor.
According to Boudreau, 28-year-old, right-shot defenceman Tucker Poolman has been skating once again after missing time with apparent migraines. He’s expected back in the Vancouver Canucks line-up in the next seven to ten days.
Have a great week and enjoy the hockey action !!