In the ebbs and flows of the playoff chase for the Vancouver Canucks, the team has once again ebbed, putting itself in a must-win situation Tuesday night against the New Jersey Devils. The game at Rogers Arena carries a number of subplots, the biggest simply being the Canucks have to have it to keep pace with the playoff pack in the Western Conference.
Also as stake, revenge for the Vancouver Canucks against a New Jersey Devils team that smoked them 7-2 back on February 28th during Vancouver’s recent four-game eastern road trip, and friendly revenge for Quinn Hughes over his brother Jack. The 20-year-old forward owns a 4-and-0 record against the 22-year-old defenceman. With USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program, Jack’s Under-18 team defeated Quinn’s University of Michigan squad in 2018, and since turning pro Jack’s Devils have beaten Quinn’s Canucks all three times they’ve met.
The Sunday night NHL scoreboard brought a mixed bag for the Canucks. The LA Kings defeated the Florida Panthers 3-2 in a shoot-out and stretched their 2nd-place cushion in the Pacific Division by jumping to 74 points. With Sunday night’s 2-1 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Canucks remain nine points back of the Kings and can’t be concerned about reaching that position. Vancouver’s sights are on 3rd-place in the Pacific and/or the two Western Conference wild card spots.
3rd Place – Edmonton Oilers – 68 points – 59 games played.
1st Wild Card – Nashville Predators – 72 points – 59 games played.
2nd Wild Card – Vegas Golden Knights – 68 points – 61 games played.
Dallas Stars – 67 points – 57 games played.
Vancouver Canucks – 65 points – 60 games played.
The Nashville Predators were victorious Sunday night while the Vegas Golden Knights lost. That team has not done well since adding former Buffalo Sabres captain Jack Eichel to the line-up following his neck surgery.
“He’s day-to-day,” Canucks Head Coach Bruce Boudreau said emphatically postgame Sunday in reference to Elias Pettersson. After practicing with the club on Saturday in Burnaby, Vancouver’s 23-year-old Swedish centreman missed morning skate on Sunday for ‘maintenance’ reasons and then surprised onlookers by also missing the game against the Lightning. There is no word as to whether the problem is related to the wrist injury he suffered last season, it’s simply being call ‘upper-body’.
Pettersson is not in any anguish, he could be seen smiling for photos with children outside the Canucks dressing room on Sunday night.
Other Canucks remain out of the line-up for the time being. Right-shot defenceman Tucker Poolman practiced with the Canucks this past week and is expected to dress once again for NHL action before the end of this seven-game homestand that wraps on March 20th against the Buffalo Sabres. He last played on January 27th in Winnipeg against the Jets when he left the game after the first period. He’s been suffering from headaches and illness.
Another right-shot D-man, Langley native Kyle Burroughs remains out week-to-week with what are believed to be broken ribs, suffered in the game against the Anaheim Ducks at Rogers Arena on February 19th.
Forward Jason Dickinson remains out with an undisclosed injury suffered when he crashed into the boards on February 24th at Rogers Arena against the Calgary Flames. He’s officially listed as day-to-day.
Off day Monday for the Canucks – no practice.