The Sunday Crease

The Sunday Crease: Rise of Virtanen, Boeser’s injury woes and a fun and crazy squad

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In the time since I wrote the last edition of the Sunday Crease (nearly a month ago), the Canucks have become one of the biggest surprises in the National Hockey League.

Not only is Vancouver currently in sole possession of first in the Pacific Division in November, but they’re also riding a six game point streak where they’ve picked up 10 points out of a possible 12. Sure, there’s been points in that streak where they’ve blown multiple leads and given away a few extra points, but who cares?! This is hockey! We’re just here to have fun, right?

If there’s one thing Canucks games have been chalked full of lately, it’s entertainment. Thursday’s game against the Bruins was one of the best games of the year, as Vancouver chased Jaroslav Halak from the net and ran Boston out of the building by a score of 8-5.

Since Elias Pettersson has started to get more attention from the opposition, his teammates have stepped up to cover his share of the scoresheet. Ben Hutton has become one of the biggest stories of the season by turning into the Canucks’ scoring ace on the blue line. Depth role players like Antoine Roussel and Markus Granlund have been regular contributors on the offensive end. Heck, even Loui Eriksson and Erik Gudbranson are chipping in!

Deep down, we all know the reality. The Canucks probably shouldn’t be here right now. The amount of scoring that has Vancouver tied for third in the NHL in goals is simply unsustainable with this injury riddled lineup, and with the team struggling to keep pucks out of their own net of late as well, it’s hard to imagine Vancouver keeping this pace for an entire season.

But frankly, that shouldn’t keep Canucks Nation from having fun.

Hope has been hard to find in Vancouver since that fateful Game 7 loss in June 2011, but now with the rise of Dekey Pete hope might be at an all-time high. The Canucks still have work to do, but there’s no reason fans can’t bask in the wins now. And with the way Pacific rivals have been playing, who knows; maybe the playoffs aren’t such a crazy idea after all.

Machine Gun Jake

Jake Virtanen’s career has had a bit of a renaissance this season, and I’m not just talking about the #ShotgunJake tradition, either.

Jakey V. has risen through the right wing ranks and become a serious scoring threat for the Canucks, currently riding a run of five points in the last six games. He’s gained so much trust from the coaching staff that’s he even found his way onto EP’s line yesterday against the Sabres.

What’s stuck out about Virtanen’s game of late has been his heightened skill in the offensive end, particularly at winning puck battles and positioning himself as the net front presence everyone dreamed he’d become. Not only is he nearly halfway to his career high 20 points from last season in early November, but he’s actually becoming a positive addition to the team that he hasn’t been before.

If he keeps going at this rate, BC liquor stores are gonna need to stock up on extra beer cans.

Without Brock

I’m not gonna lie, Brock Boeser’s growing list of injury issues is starting to get a little worrisome for me.

Injuries are something every athlete has to deal with at some point in their lives, but for Brock there’s a slight difference; his age. At 20 years old Boeser has already had surgeries on his back and his wrist, the latter which is still causing him issues to this day and now he’s returned to Vancouver to see a specialist for the groin injury he’s struggled with all season.

I’m happy to see the Canucks are giving Brock the time off to recoup and heal, especially early on in the season when the team’s having success. It shows that the team’s priorities are in the right place; Boeser’s long term health is frankly far more important than winning games right now. But with his medical chart getting longer and longer, it’s hard not to think about all the great hockey players that have had injuries cut their careers short.

Naturally, I hope I’m way off and Brock returns to play what’ll end up being the first of a 500+ game ironman streak and scoring hundreds of points in the process. But for now, all I can do is sit with optimistic concern.

Thanks for reading! Do you think the Canucks can keep up their winning pace for a full season? Leave a comment below!

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