Vancouver Canucks Head Coach Bruce Boudreau ran his charges through an enthusiastic practice Tuesday at Rogers Arena for the start of seven-game homestand that begins on Wednesday night against the Montreal Canadiens.
Call it an opportunity. If the Canucks can string together some wins with the home cookin’, as in five or six, they’ll put themselves squarely in the playoff mix. Obviously no easy task.
Call it frightening. The hopes and aspirations of the team and its fans will dwindle away if the club falters with said opportunity. Also well within the realm of possibility and the potential reasons are numerous. We’ll avoid prognosticating for now.
“We can’t afford to take our foot off the gas,” Boudreau said after practice. “Everywhere you read it’s a long shot, but we still believe we have that opportunity, so the minute we take the foot off the gas is the minute we’re saying ‘we’re not gonna make it’. I think the guys in that room have a lot of belief in themselves at this stage.
“The longer we can keep in it and the longer we can keep going, the season gets shorter, but we’re still in it, we’re still in it til the end, and that’s where we want to be. We want every game we play to be a really meaningful game this year.”
The Vancouver Canucks are 4 points out of the 2nd wild card spot in the west but the occupant Nashville Predators have 2 games in hand. So do the Dallas Stars in the 1st wild card spot, five points ahead. Vancouver is six points behind 3rd place Vegas with the same number of games played.
The Canucks also still need to hop over the Anaheim Ducks (1 point ahead) and the Edmonton Oilers (2 points ahead) in the standings, but Vancouver has a game in hand on the duckies and is even in games with the once again floundering Oil.
While the Canucks remain off for one more evening, the Golden Knights will be playing in Philadelphia against the Flyers, the Stars are going head-to-head with the Predators in Nashville and the Ducks play the Blackhawks in Chicago tonight.
Vancouver Canucks right winger Sheldon Rempal, he of 48 points in 41 games played for AHL Abbotsford this season, skated for the second consecutive day with the big club on Tuesday.
No word yet on whether he’ll work his way into the line-up on Wednesday night against the Canadiens or if he’ll be an extra, but probably the latter. The 26-year-old Calgary native has 10 career NHL games played between the Los Angeles Kings (7) in 2018-’19 and the Carolina Hurricanes (3) last season. Boudreau tends to stick with what’s working.
Right-shot defenceman Tucker Poolman skated with his teammates once again after returning Monday from headaches and illness that have kept him out of the Vancouver line-up since January 27th in Winnipeg when he left the game against the Jets after the first period. The 6-foot-2-inch, 200-pound Iowan has three points in 39 games this season with both a goal and an assist coming in Colorado against the Avalanche back on November 17th.
We love to have some fun with Brad Hunt, possibly the happiest, most upbeat man on the planet and a strong candidate to be a motivational speaker when his hockey career is over. “Huntsy” has a three-game point streak going and is now up to nine points on the season. The 33-year-old, left-shot D-man from Maple Ridge scored his first goal in 26 games with the Canucks last Thursday night against the Islanders.