Here’s a philosophical question for you; if you get a win against a team playing their second game of a back-to-back, does it actually count?
According to the NHL standings page it does, so I’ll go forward based on that info.
The Canucks have fallen back to Earth in the last couple weeks, but with all the odd events in Friday’s 5-2 victory over the Blue Jackets, it might as well have happened on Mars.
The game started normal enough. Jacob Markstrom gave up an early questionable goal in the first period before Sven Baertschi got his first goal after his return from injury on a power play in the second.
Things officially got weird when Erik Gudbranson fired a slapshot past defending Vezina Trophy winner Sergei Bobrovsky to give the Canucks the lead. Then Brendan Gaunce broke his stick on a shot, but somehow it trickled in anyway. Finally, Alex Edler threw the puck right off the skate of Jackets defenseman Markus Nutivaara and into the net, giving the Canucks a lead they’d hold until the final horn.
Tonight’s 3-2 overtime win over the Wild was no different. Loui Eriksson got off the schneid with his sixth goal, while Thomas Vanek came up clutch late in the third to tie the game. All that led to Brandon Sutter’s beautiful OT winner over the shoulder of Devan Dubnyk, in what was his return to the lineup after weeks on the IR with a groin injury.
If there’s one thing both these victories had in common, it was the rise of the Canucks’ supporting cast. Sure, it might not make for the most thrilling contest, but having Gaunce, Gudbranson and Sutter all contribute to the offense shows that the club is heading in the right direction. Even after the serious slide that Vancouver has had lately, they might be trending back up at just the right time, with Bo Horvat’s return getting closer and closer.
Making the playoffs might be out of the question at this point, but building the foundation for a successful future is going to be critical in the coming months. The Trade Deadline is fast approaching, and if some of the Canucks on expiring deals can keep doing damage, they might be giving this team a bigger boost than they know.
Whether Nikolay Goldobin is ready for full-time NHL action or not is a debate that most fans seem pretty divided on. But one thing’s for sure; he won’t get better without ice time. Travis Green wasn’t giving him much with the big club, so his demotion back to Utica is a blessing in disguise. He still has some bugs in his game that need to be ironed out, particularly on the rush, but getting top six minutes with the Comets is going to do more for him than playing a limited role in Vancouver. Either way, this certainly isn’t the last we’ll see of Goldy before season’s end.
Hockey Canada officially announced their roster for the 2018 Olympics in Pyeongchang, and besides the fact that the team’s head coach is Willie “Real Good” Desjardins, there’s a pretty massive contingency of former Canucks on the roster. Maxim Lapierre, Mason Raymond, Linden Vey, Derek Roy, Andrew Ebbett and Marc-Andre Gragnani all made Canada’s final roster, and you can’t help but be happy for all of them.
While the tournament won’t have the same world-class talent that it does when the NHL’s players are involved, this is a rare and exciting opportunity for a group of players who otherwise wouldn’t have gotten the chance to represent their country on the biggest stage. Regardless of who’s in the lineup, they’re still Team Canada, and come February we’ll all be getting behind them on their path to gold.
Other Hockey Thoughts
- One major story that came out after the Canucks win over the Blue Jackets was that defensemen Jack Johnson had requested a trade from Columbus. He’s on the final year of his current deal and, with his role on the Jackets having been cut down this season, he wants a better chance to prove himself in what might be his last chance to score a major contract. A good fit for Johnson might be the Sharks, which has the cap room to take on his contract, and with San Jose just a point back of a wild card spot it would give him a good chance to showcase his value.
- Anaheim’s Andrew Cogliano has played 830 consecutive NHL games since his rookie season with the Oilers in 2007-08, but he’ll finally miss the first two games of his career thanks to a late hit on the Kings’ Adrian Kempe last night that earned him a two game suspension. To put that in perspective, I was 10 the last time Cogliano didn’t play an NHL game (I’m currently five months away from 21). It’s certainly a tough way for him to lose his impressive ironman streak, especially since he just signed a new three-year extension with the Ducks worth $9.75 million. With Cogliano’s run officially over, I doubt we’ll ever see anyone else come closer to touching the all-time record of 964 games. The owner of that record? The Canucks very own power play coach, Doug Jarvis.
- The Blackhawks picked up Anthony Duclair from the Coyotes in exchange for Richard Panik on Thursday, in yet another example of Chicago buying low on a high-reward player. The former third rounder had requested a trade from the Coyotes earlier in the season, largely due to his struggles to establish himself in the team’s plans, and Chicago was able to scoop him up at a large discount. With Panik, the Coyotes are getting a solid depth piece who’s had trouble finding the back of the net this season, and Arizona is hoping they can reinvigorate him in a new market.
Obligatory Smash Mouth Reference
Brock Boeser was named as the Canucks’ lone representative for the NHL All-Star Game in Tampa, to the surprise of absolutely no one. Boeser will be the only rookie at the event, earning a big bonus in the process, and it continues to cement his status as the Calder Trophy frontrunner. He’s been on a small slump of late, which is why now is a great time to remind ourselves what the future of this franchise has in store for us.
Soak it up, Canucks fans.