The Vancouver Canucks sit four points back of the 2nd wild card spot in the Western Conference, a position held by the Dallas Stars, the Canucks next opponent.
Vancouver President of Hockey Operations Jim Rutherford, fresh off a bout with Covid, called Saturday’s game in Dallas “The biggest game of the year for our team.”
3rd Place – Pacific Division – Edmonton Oilers – 65 games played, 77 points
1st Wild Card – Nashville Predators – 65 games played, 78 points
2nd Wild Card – Dallas Stars – 63 games played, 75 points
Vegas Golden Knights – 67 games played, 74 points
Vancouver Canucks – 66 games played, 71 points
Winnipeg Jets – 65 games played, 70 points
Winnipeg is the lone team from this group playing Friday night as they host the Columbus Blue Jackets.
It appears the Vancouver Canucks will introduce some fresh legs to the line-up Saturday as 23-year-old right wing Will Lockwood has been called up from the Abbotsford Canucks. The feisty 5-foot-11, 175-pound forward impressed with his physical play in training camp and brings 25 points and 48 penalty minutes in 46 AHL games to the NHL table. He played two games for the big club at the end of last season.
Meanwhile, one day away from a ‘regular season playoff game’, the Canucks rest in Texas, content with the three points gained thus far on a very difficult four-game road trip.
“it was two tough games, two tough teams, and we’ve got a day to recuperate before we play another tough team, so we’ll take the three points,” Canucks Head Coach Bruce Boudreau said. “It keeps us in the race, and as long as we’re in the race we’ve got a shot. That’s all we want right now.”
The club continues to be led offensively by JT Miller, with three goals and five points over the last three games, but also by Canucks captain Bo Horvat, also with a goal in three consecutive games and eight goals and fourteen points over the last twelve matches.
“He’s playing with a lot more confidence, he’s using his speed out there, he’s using his size down low, creating some plays,” Canucks defenceman Luke Schenn said. “He’s our captain, he’s our leader, he’s playing great here down the stretch for us and we need more guys playing up to his level.”
MIller is tied for 8th in league scoring entering NHL action Friday night. Even without a point in the games against Detroit and Calgary last week, he’s piled up 34 points over the twenty games since February 8th. Twelve of those points are goals and three of them are game winners.
Both Rutherford and Boudreau have referred to the Vancouver Canucks finding success by playing committed hockey ‘the right way’. Tireless hard work is the baseline. The team is well aware.
“We’ve seen what makes us successful and we’ve seen the type of game we have to play against these top teams,” Horvat said Thursday night. “The moment we realize that, and we have realized that, the better we’re going to be, and know what to expect game in and game out because it’s obviously important points here down the stretch.”