Plain and simple the Vancouver Canucks are five points behind the 2nd wild card position in the Western Conference with a game in-hand on the team they are chasing, the Vegas Golden Knights. Dallas sits between the two, two points ahead of the Canucks with three games in-hand on Vancouver.
Vegas Golden Knights – 64 Games Played, 72 Points
Dallas Stars – 60 Games Played, 69 Points
Vancouver Canucks – 63 Games Played, 67 Points
Based on games played the Dallas Stars essentially control their own destiny.
The Canucks don’t need to worry about catching the 3rd-place team in the Pacific Division at the moment; the Edmonton Oilers have 74 points and a game in-hand. The Oilers have won five games in a row.
The Rested Sabres
The Buffalo Sabres arrived in Vancouver late Friday night after a win in Calgary and enjoyed the local BC sunshine and hospitality on Saturday with a day off. They’ll try to utterly spoil any of Vancouver’s remaining playoff hopes by defeating the Canucks on Sunday.
It’s been a horrendous year for the 1970 expansion brethren of the Canucks, like Vancouver, a club that has been to the Stanley Cup Final on more than one occasion but yet to win it. Based on US national television surveys and playoff ratings involving neutral teams, fans in Buffalo are traditionally at or near the top of per capita populations supporting the NHL game. Yet this season the fed up fans there seemed to have boycotted the local club in big numbers.
The coaching carousel has been busy in recent years as has that of management. In case you hadn’t checked back in awhile, the head coach in Buffalo at the moment is Don Granato, older brother of Canucks Assistant General Manager Cammi Granato, and the GM is a former NHL player who grew up not far from Buffalo, Kevyn Adams.
After a disagreement and plenty of angst, the team sent its then captain Jack Eichel to the Vegas Golden Knights in November for two players and two picks. Sadly for Buffalo fans those summer NHL draft picks probably won’t be as high as they had hoped. Right now six NHL teams actually have fewer points than the Sabres. Losing would help their draft lottery odds.
Ducks Go Quack
No surprise this past week when the still rebuilding Anaheim Ducks seemed to throw in the playoff towel when they traded defenceman Josh Manson to the Colorado Avalanche and forward Nicolas Deslauriers to the Minnesota Wild and then tipped over the laundry basket completely on Saturday when they traded defenceman Hampus Lindholm to the Boston Bruins.
This team and its new GM Pat Verbeek aren’t in it to nibble at the playoffs, they’re in it to complete an overhaul. They took a big step by trading the 28-year-old Swedish stalwart Lindholm to Boston for John Moore, Urho Vaakanainen, a first-round pick in this summer’s draft, a second-round pick in 2023 and another in 2024.
A talented young team in SoCal just got younger, while the outgoing UFA just signed an eight-year, $6.5-million per season deal with the Bruins on Sunday.