The team would tell you to take it one day at a time and not get ahead of yourself, but just for fun we’re gonna skip ahead a wee bit when looking at the Vancouver Canucks playoff chances. This will require making just a couple of small assumptions; realistic ones that are mandatory to keep this slim dream alive.
This is what the Western Conference standings would look like on Wednesday if the Canucks take care of business on Saturday against the San Jose Sharks and then again on Tuesday head-to-head with the Vegas Golden Knights, a team they’re pursuing.
Again, there’s no point in reviewing the numbers as of today because there’s still too much work to be done. At least by the middle of next week things would be getting a bit more interesting if indeed the Canucks go 2-and-0.
Other assumptions over the next five days ( ) for this exercise, while being generous to Vancouver’s adversaries:
3rd Place – Pacific Division – Dallas Stars – 73 games played, 88 points (The Stars go 2-and-1)
1st Wild Card – Nashville Predators – 73 games played, 90 points (The Predators go 2-and-1)
2nd Wild Card – Los Angeles Kings – 75 games played, 88 points (The Kings go 1-and-1)
Vegas Golden Knights – 74 games played, 84 points (The Golden Knights go 1-and-1)
Vancouver Canucks – 74 games played, 82 points (The Canucks go 2-and-0)
Winnipeg Jets – 74 games played, 80 points (The Jets go 2-and-1)
As one can see, there would still be plenty of work to do.
En Fuego Bo
Canucks captain Bo Horvat’s hot streak peaked on Thursday night in Arizona in more ways than one. First of all, he went an incredible 17-for-17 at the face-off dot. He told us he started to think about it midway through the 3rd period when he realized he was perfect through a dozen or so face-offs.
“I don’t think I’ve ever had 100-percent at the dot before so it was pretty cool to get that,” Horvat said.
He’s 2nd in the NHL in face-offs taken (1,417), in total face-off wins, and in face-off percentage (57.3%) among those who’ve taken 1,000-plus.
Meanwhile, Horvat has tallied 16 goals over his last 21 games, a streak unequalled in his career to this point. He reached the 30-goal plateau for the first time in his career with two on Thursday night. His previous high for a single season was 27 back in 2018-’19.
He added an assist as well and has seven of those over the same stretch.
“Just getting all the right bounces and trying to finish the best I can,” Horvat said postgame. “I am playing with confidence and definitely feel good with the puck night in and night out, but at the same time getting the wins are more important for sure.”
The Young Russian
With random Canucks injuries and due to improved play, 20-year-old former 1st-round NHL draft pick (10th-overall, 2019) Vasily Podkolzin has seen increased opportunities lately, earning 16:07 in ice time on Thursday night in Arizona. That after three consecutive games of 14-minutes plus. He also moved up from a line with Juho Lammikko and Alex Chiasson to one with Horvat and Conor Garland for the Coyotes game.
Despite a goal scoring drought that has reached 16 games, opportunities have increased and his defensive play has improved. He had the primary assists on both of Horvat’s goals in the 5-1 victory.
“I’ve loved his game right from the start, he’s definitely coming into his own already at such a young age,” Horvat said on behalf of his linemate who speaks very limited English. “Like you saw the pass he made to me tonight and he’s been making all the little plays, it’s just a matter of guys burying it for him. He gave me a breakaway last game, he’s making a lot of things happen.”
“When he’s handling the puck more, you know he’s feeling it a little more, just getting it and giving it away,” Canucks Head Coach Bruce Boudreau said, “and I thought he’s making moves, he’s handling the puck, he’s doing a good job that way.”
Podkolzin has ten goals and nine assists in 69 Vancouver Canucks games.