Do the Vancouver Canucks need to sweep the last two games of this four game road trip out east? Not necessarily, but if they don’t, they’ll have to win five of seven during their upcoming homestand. That’s the basic math on the topic as the Canucks try to keep their remote playoff chances alive. Oh, and they’d also need to win at least one of the next two on Long Island against the New York Islanders or in Ontario against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Pending the conclusion of action on Tuesday night, the Canucks and their 58 points remain four points behind the 2nd wild card spot in the NHL’s Western Conference and five points out of 3rd place in the Pacific Division.
Strengths and Weaknesses
VHN addresses the goaltending situation for the Canucks in the next section below. Bottom line, they have one of the top-5 starters in the NHL in Thatcher Demko.
Along the blueline it’s been a bit of a circus lately. Travis Hamonic, the veteran, right-shot D-man, who after returning from injury was briefly paired with Quinn Hughes on the Canucks top duo, was just as quickly pulled off that twosome and has been a bit of an adventure since. He needs to clean up the break-out passes most noticeably. He’s contributed a goal and an assist since coming back February 12th against Toronto from his lower body issue.
Another right shot Canucks D-man Tucker Poolman remains out of the line-up (illness) and was placed on Long Term Injured Reserve three days ago.
That same day the Canucks placed another rightie blueliner Kyle Burroughs on injured reserve with an upper body injury.
Third pair lefty Brad Hunt, the 33-year-old who can play both sides, isn’t sufficient in general.
Let’s just say things are a bit dicey back there.
The Canucks forwards have been picking up the scoring lately, although we didn’t see it last night in Newark. In the nine games since the NHL All-Star break, the Canucks have averaged 4.33 goals per game and they’ve been spreading it around a bit. Now if only young Swede Nils Höglander could light the lamp, goalless in his last 21 games.
VHN delved a little deeper into the current Vancouver Canucks pro’s and con’s on the Rink Wide Podcast with Andrew Wadden and Jeff Paterson on Tuesday.
It would appear based on performance, and it sounds like based on the spoken words of Vancouver Head Coach Bruce Boudreau, that Demko will be starting the next eight games in net for the Canucks. That’s how many games the BC Boys have until there’s another back-to-back.
That means Demko will play against the New York Islanders on Thursday, the Maple Leafs in Toronto on Saturday, and then play the first six matches in the Canucks upcoming homestand against the Montreal Canadiens, Washington Capitals, Tampa Bay Lightning, New Jersey Devils, Detroit Red Wings, and Calgary Flames. That’s before Jaroslav Halak gets another start on March 20th at home against the Buffalo Sabres.
Halak doesn’t appear to be an option prior to that point having given up 13 goals on 37 shots over his last three appearances. Two of those games were starts, a Canucks 6-3 loss to the New York Islanders back on February 9th and last night’s 7-2 loss to the New Jersey Devils.
Trade Chatter Calms
Still haven’t come to grips with the JT Miller trade rumours, especially since they started two-plus months before the NHL trade deadline. Someone, maybe the person who started it, really wanted that speculation pushed. Without repeating the multiple factors as to why that concept doesn’t make any sense, let’s just go ahead and state that it would take a generous ‘king’s ransom’ to pry Miller from the Canucks given his attributes and his low salary cap hit. Not to mention with a year on his contract.
Halak’s trade chatter all but died recently based on his recent performances that have lowered his stock, but mostly because he has shown no interest in waiving his no-move clause. He’s closing out a one year deal.
Brock Boeser, with his $7.5-million Restricted Free Agent qualifying offer hanging around out there this summer, seems to still get mentioned.
Another winger who we mentioned here in legit trade talk a little while back and who’s stock is up is the Boston Bruins Jake DeBrusk. He’s coming off a hat trick performance, actually a four-point game against the LA Kings on Monday. He’s on a five-game point streak and has reiterated his request for a trade.
The Calgary Flames are apparently looking to bolster their D-Corps.