The NHL scores still mean plenty, even with the Vancouver Canucks sitting out Friday night and members of the team and coaching staff just playing observer. None other than the Boston Bruins did Vancouver a favour to start the weekend. A late third period power play goal by Boston’s Taylor Hall followed by an empty netter proved the difference in a 4-2 victory over Winnipeg.
The loss kept the Jets (66) a point behind the Canucks (67) in the playoff pack with the two clubs having played the same number of games.
The other game of interest a little later had the Florida Panthers shutting out the Anaheim Ducks 3-0. Anaheim remained two points behind Vancouver with the Canucks holding two games in hand.
The Dallas Stars, the Edmonton Oilers, the Los Angeles Kings and the Vegas Golden Knights, all teams tap dancing above the Vancouver Canucks in the Western Conference standings, all play on Saturday night. While the results will be of utmost importance, they will mean little if the Canucks can’t take care of business on Hockey Night in Canada while hosting the Calgary Flames.
One should not expect a repeat of February 24th when Vancouver trounced Calgary at Rogers Arena 7-1. That game will remain fresh in the minds of the visitors when they arrive late Friday night after hosting the Buffalo Sabres at the Saddledome. Vancouver could hope for a feisty Friday affair that goes a full overtime but the back-to-back will unlikely distract the Flames from the task at hand on Saturday night.
Meanwhile, obviously the laissiz-faire Canucks approach that failed against the Detroit Red Wings on Thursday won’t be utilized again or it’ll be a long night and the unofficial end of the playoff chase.
The Flames feature the fourth best penalty kill in the NHL (85.4%) and a very good power play at 11th best (23.4%). The Canucks poured in three power play goals and a successful penalty shot from JT Miller to briefly blow those numbers out of the water.
It’s remarkable how much the Canucks trade deadline decision-making could change over the next 72-hours depending on how the team performs. Camaraderie, potential playoff gate, and a city swept up in a Cinderella story of sorts, probably had management and ownership holding off.
If the season’s headed south, here’s the primary names in focus for the Vancouver Canucks to deal in order to obtain a draft pick or two. Of course, anything is possible.
Tyler Motte – A quick, feisty grinder on an expiring UFA contract who can add to a team’s penalty kill.
Travis Hamonic or Luke Schenn – At $3-million and $875,000 respectively for one more season, worth taking on, especially if you’re a playoff team looking for more anger and jam. Hamonic has a modified no-trade-clause limited to eight teams.
Tyler Myers – The big D-man’s current no-trade-clause becomes modified to a ten-team player-submitted list this summer. The Canucks could seek a taker for $6-million per year for the next two seasons in order to clear up some of that cap room and rearrange the defence.
Brock Boeser – His name has bounced around all season because of forthcoming salary cap considerations and his $7.5-million restricted free agent qualifying offer this summer. Would go for a heftier sum but potentially with salary or negotiation provisions.
The other expiring contracts with the Canucks are bottom half players with much less demand. Goalie Jaroslav Halak is a UFA but apparently hasn’t waived his no-move-clause, assuming there’s still interest.