February 07 2017 11:04PM
The Canucks entered tonight's contest with the opportunity to start anew on the road, as they set off on a crucial six-game road trip that has the potential to define their season. All that stood in their way was the resurgent Nashville Predators.
One hopes that as the Canucks descend opposite the Predators, they might meet somewhere in the middle. Of course, that operates under the assumption there was much further for the Canucks to fall. The Canucks are now 0-3 opposite the NHL All-Star break, and they've been outscored 15-5 in that stretch following tonight's 4-2 loss in Tennessee.
Viktor Arvidsson and Calle Jarnkrok led the Predators offensively with a goal and an assist apiece. Markus Granlund opened the scoring in tonight's contest and Alex Edler chipped in with his second goal of the season to pull the Canucks to within one in the third period. Mike Fisher sealed the deal with the empty net goal.
Jacob Markstrom played well enough, stopping 29 of 32 Predator shots. Opposite him, Pekka Rinne, who looked shaky from the first shot on, stopped 31 of 33 Vancouver tries. Vancouver dropped their fourth straight and remain at just six road wins on the season.
February 07 2017 08:07PM
Photo Credit: Sergei Belski - USA Today Sports
Early in the first period, Sven Baertschi took a hit from Predators forward Cody McLeod. Visibly frustrated after returning to the bench, he then left to get looked at. The Canucks announced that Baertschi will be out for the remainder of the game with a concussion.
Baertschi will not return tonight because of a concussion.— Vancouver Canucks (@Canucks) February 8, 2017
February 07 2017 03:00PM
Photo Credit: Lindsay A. Mogle / Utica Comets
It feels like every time I gear up to write about the Comets, I'm talking about either a prolonged winning streak, or a prolonged losing streak. This is just about the streakiest I have ever seen a team play. After winning seven of nine, and then losing nine straight, and the winning eight of nine, the Comets have now lost four in a row. If they stick to the pattern, it looks like they're in for a rough week. It doesn't help that this coming week will be their busiest of the season to date - though at least they'll be getting Brendan Gaunce back.
But before we look ahead, let's look back at the weeks than were.
February 07 2017 01:00PM
Photo Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin - USA TODAY Sports
Philip Larsen has been a lightning rod for criticism since returning to the Canucks' lineup from a December 8th concussion. He's found himself on the ugly end of many a broken play, and an alarming number of those have found their way to the back of his net. It's been an ugly reunion.
Taking Biega out for Larsen makes even less sense now than it did a week ago.— Iain MacIntyre (@imacVanSun) February 3, 2017
Now questions abound about whether Larsen has what it takes to remain a fixture on the Canucks back end as they enter the most critical stretch of their season. Depending on who you ask, the skepticism runs so deep as to bring into question whether he's even an NHL defenceman in any capacity.
I'm of a different mind, though. Larsen's had a rough few games, but nothing so disastrous that I'm shaken from my conviction that he's a genuinely fine and useful third pair defenceman. An imperfect one, sure. But he's not alone in that regard -- certainly not on the Canucks blue line.
February 07 2017 11:00AM
Photo Credit: Bill Streicher - USA Today Sports
We know Brock Boeser, Olli Juolevi, and Thatcher Demko. We've heard plenty about the Canucks' top three prospects, but not much about the rest of the list. Jim "Draft Guru" Benning came into Vancouver with quite the drafting pedigree. During his tenure with Buffalo and Boston, Benning managed to snatch some mid-round gems. Derek Roy, Jason Pominville, and Dennis Wideman were all 2nd to 7th-round picks who have had rather successful careers.
Prior to Jim Benning's hiring, the the depth prospect cupboard was sub-par. Three year's in, it's been filled. It's not necessarily full (or even close to full), but it's a heck of a lot better than it was before. This weekend on Hockey Prospect Radio, Jim Benning have us an update and scouting report on some players who may not be getting very much publicity.