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Canucks Wrap: Staring Down the Gauntlet, Newbies Speak

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Let’s take a gander at the challenge that awaits the Vancouver Canucks over the next six nights and the implications from the potential results. With four games in six days, the Canucks have the following matches on this road gauntlet: Wednesday night at the Colorado Avalanche, Thursday night at the Minnesota Wild, Saturday evening visiting the Dallas Stars and Monday night at the St. Louis Blues.

The trip begins for the Vancouver Canucks with the distraction of the NHL trade deadline behind them.

“I think the players are really happy this is over, because I think there was an awful lot of them on pins and needles and pin cushions and everything else and they were saying basically today that it’s done and OK, now we can start focusing on the games,” Canucks Head Coach Bruce Boudreau said Tuesday before the team took flight. “I have to believe that when you’re here for three-and-a-half months and then last week seemed an aberration of the first three-and-a-half months that there was something bothering the group as a whole and hopefully we can get over that and go at it today because this is the team we’ve got.”

Newbies

A small portion of the team is new. Left-shot defenceman, 25-year-old Travis Dermott, obtained from the Toronto Maple Leafs on Sunday, enjoyed his first practice with Vancouver playing on the third pair with Brad Hunt.

“It was an anxious 24-hours that’s for sure, you’re coming to a new team, never been traded before, it’s an exciting situation to be in, so I was pretty excited to come meet the boys and kind of just get the first steps out of the way,” Dermott told the media Tuesday. “Kind of an anxious night last night, but woke up nice and early this morning with the time change, got in here early and tried to get my body moving and get used to it.”

Dermott said he loosened up, had a chance to talk with the coaches and started to put some names to faces.

Brad Richardson, snagged off waivers from the Calgary Flames on Monday, didn’t require full acclimation. The versatile 37-year-old, left-shot forward played here with Vancouver for two seasons from 2013 to ’15, including when current Canucks captain Bo Horvat was a rookie.

“Quick turnaround, so it was just nice to get to meet everyone, some familiar faces and obviously some that are new,” Richardson said Tuesday. “It’s a good chance to get on the road and go for some dinners and get to know the guys a bit better.”

Richardson added he loved being in Vancouver before and he’s happy to be back.

Part of what this team needs is some maturity, some added leadership, and apparently some examples of establishing the proper pregame mindset, given the club’s chronic propensity for bad first period starts. Richardson, a Stanley Cup winner in Los Angeles in 2012, brings much of it to the table, as well as serving as a replacement for departed Tyler Motte on the penalty kill.

Motte was sent to the New York Rangers on Sunday for a 2023 4th-round draft pick.

Stark Reality

The Vancouver Canucks can kick the can down the road a bit by going 2-and-2 on this very difficult road trip. That’s the minimum result to keep their unlikely playoff season alive. 2-1-and-1 would be a hell of a lot better.

One of those results would put the team at 72 or 73 points on the season with 14 games to play. They would then likely need to go the equivalent of 11-and-3 the rest of the way to have a chance. That’s the reality.

The wild card in chasing the wild card is the fact that the Canucks have five games remaining head-to-head against the two main teams they’re chasing, three against the Vegas Golden Knights and two against the Dallas Stars. This Saturday’s game down in Texas will essentially serve as a regular season playoff game. Come to think of it, they all will.

VHN Managing Editor Rob Simpson has been covering the NHL for three decades on live TV, radio, and as a journalist. He worked his first ever game getting postgame sound as a teenager; it was Vancouver vs. Detroit.

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