With the Canucks’ heart wrenching 3-2 shootout loss to the Maple Leafs last night, it marked the halfway point of the Canucks season, meaning it’s time to take stock of what we have so far.
My list just says Brock Boeser and injuries.
Vancouver’s fallen into the bottom of the Western Conference, thanks to earning just one win in their last nine games, including in tonight’s 5-2 defeat at the hands of the Canadiens. The Canucks did get some good news this week after Sven Baertschi, who’s been out with a broken jaw since early December, made his return to the lineup tonight. The problem is that the bad news just won’t stop piling up.
Chris Tanev has had a Sami Salo level of bad luck with injuries this season, and that includes getting hit in the teeth with a shot in Toronto last night. He missed tonight’s game against Montreal and will eventually require mouth surgery, according to Sportsnet’s Dan Murphy. Bo Horvat is still out and the Canucks’ are a clearly different team without him.
With Team Tank starting to come out of the woodwork, selling at the deadline seems like a foregone conclusion at this point. But that’s not to say there isn’t something to root for in the second half of the year. Boeser has a chance to break the Canucks all-time rookie points record set by Pavel Bure in 1991-92, as well as pass the 80 point mark, something just 20 first-year NHLers have accomplished.
The future has begun to take root on the ice with Nikolay Goldobin and Jake Virtanen both seeing their roles increase due to all the injuries. And of course, the Trade Deadline is almost here, with plenty of potential deals to better stabilize the long term picture (Gudbranson for Marner, anyone?).
There’s not a massive amount of storylines to get excited about, but the ones that are will make for an interesting next four months.
He’s the (Brock) Boest Around
Brock Boeser is a superstar.
He’s played less games than a number of his teammates and his top two linemates have been hurt for nearly a month. But all that adversity hasn’t stopped Boeser from notching 40 points in 39 games, 11 more than the Canucks’ second leading scorer Thomas Vanek and one more than the second placed rookie, the Islanders’ Mathew Barzal.
Barring any unforeseen circumstances (which honestly for the Canucks would be par for the course), Boeser could potentially hit the 50-goal barrier in his first season, a phenomenal statline for any player, let alone a rookie. But what makes a player a superstar isn’t just his ability to put up points, it’s his impact on his teammates.
His current linemates, Vanek and Sam Gagner, should certainly take part of the credit for helping Boeser stay on pace. But Boeser has undoubtedly given the two a huge lift, with Vanek rising to second in Canucks scoring and Gagner is starting to find his game after struggling in the early parts of the season. Once Horvat returns Boeser will likely find his way back to playing on the “B-Line”, but who Boeser is playing with is far from the Canucks’ biggest problem right now.
This Week in Hockey
- If there’s one team I’ve talked about this season more than anyone else (not named the Canucks, of course), it’s the Vegas Golden Knights. Vegas has proven every doubter, myself included, wrong over the course of this entire season. The Knights not only hold a five point lead in the Pacific Division race, but also a three point lead for first in the entire Western Conference. Vegas coach Gerard Gallant has all but locked up the Jack Adams award already, turning the Knights into one the best stories in the sporting world.
The team even locked up Knights points leader Jonathan Marchessault on Wednesday to a six-year extension worth $30 million, a move that has a major impact on more than just one player. This signing means the Knights are officially going all in as a playoff contender for the next half decade, and Marchessault’s extension is only the beginning of that.
- The Colorado Avalanche retired Milan Hejduk’s No.23 to the rafters of the Pepsi Center last night, who finished his 14-year career in 2013. He played all 1020 games in an Avs uniform, finishing fourth in franchise history in goals with 375, fourth in points with 805, and fifth in assists with 430. While I do think it’s only fair that the Canucks get partial credit for Hejduk’s achievement – He scored more points against Vancouver (68) than any other franchise, you’re welcome Milan – I do want to congratulate him on this much deserved honour.
— Colorado Avalanche (@Avalanche) January 7, 2018
Yet Another Mailbag/Comment Response Segment
I know just about every writer out there does their own mailbag segment these days, but since I don’t get many replies or questions about my work it’s still pretty exciting when I do. On Wednesday I got a reply on one of my older articles about the Snoopy’s Senior Hockey Tournament, which happened to come from one of the players of the game I watched:
First of all, your team name is awesome. If you guys ever decide to set up a junior/bronze team, you should definitely consider calling them the “Lay-Z-Boys”. Second, it’s nice to know that one of you guys found and read the article, even if I personally cringe at all the writing mistakes I made on it.
Nanaimo is just a short ferry ride away from Vancouver, but it’s still pretty crazy seeing where some of you are reading my blog. China, India, and even Portugal have all made random visits to the site here or there (shout out to my Brazilian readers, the surprise third place nation in the all time view count with 13), and it’s easily one of my favourite site stats to keep track of.
Even though it’s a bit played out, I do like the idea of having a mailbag segment every now and then, so feel free to send me questions by email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or on Twitter using the hashtag #GiveMeYourIceColdTakeLachlan. It can be about anything, except “Why did you make the damn hashtag so long?”. Cause I felt like it, okay?
LITC Update: I have a sponsor!
As the calendar turns to 2018 I’ve been prepping for what I hope will be my greatest year yet, and that starts with an exciting announcement. I’ve partnered with the fine folks at SeatGeek, a ticket buying website that shows you the best deals on sporting event and concert tickets based on the prices and seating locations.
So backstory time. With the amount of time and effort it takes to squash school, work and hobbies together, I’ve been looking for extra ways to help pay the bills for everything, including this site. I’m not exactly breaking the bank on the blog, but the domain and and mapping aren’t free either.
With that in mind, I decided I was willing to open up one space on the site for an ad. However the problem is that most ads are annoying and too distracting for people trying to read a story, including myself. Having SeatGeek on board as an actual partner eliminates that possibility since I get to pick how to use the ad.
With that in mind, if you’re ever planning a trip to a Canucks game, help support myself and the site by clicking the SeatGeek logo below or on the menu to the right to purchase your next tickets. I plan on making it more easily accessible with other hockey ticket buying options down the line, so stay tuned for that.
As always, thank you so much for your continued support, and hopefully together we can make 2018 the blog’s best year yet.