On Wednesday, the NHL and the Vancouver Canucks released the schedule for the 2009-2010 season.
Normally, I would grouse about too many back-to-back games in cities that are too far apart.
However the Canucks face a very unique scheduling issue this coming season – the 2010 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games in Vancouver. This year, the Canucks will embark on an unprecedented 14-game road trip, spanning 40 days and a 16 day hiatus for the Olympic games. Essentially this huge road trip is an 8-game road trip, then a 16 day break (for all non-Olympic participants) then another 6-game road trip.
With all that being said, here is my view on the Top 10 most important games of this coming season for the Vancouver Canucks.
10. Sun 14 Feb – VAN @ MIN
This is the last game before the Olympic break. This is the last game of the first part of the huge road trip (8th of 8). A win here will send the team into a good mind set as they pause for 16 days.
9. Wed 27 Jan – STL @ VAN
Last home game before the start of the epic 14-game road trip. A final win at home before a 40-day break from GM Place will be welcome for both players and fans.
8. Mon 05 Oct – CBJ @ VAN
First home game of the season. It’s always good to start the season at home off the right way with a win. However, it’s low down the list because there are 79 more games after this, and the epic road trip is a far more daunting task.
7. Thu 01 Oct – VAN @ CGY
First regular season game. Just like the first home game, it’s a good omen to start the season with a win. However, just like the first home game, it’s low down the list because there are 81 more games after this, and the epic road trip is a far more daunting task.
6. Thu 08 Apr – VAN @ SJS
Last road game of the season. The implications on the standings could make this a critical game for the Canucks playoff hopes.
5. Wed 10 Mar – VAN @ PHO
Last game of the gargantuan 14-game road trip. It’s also a back-to-back game, as the Canucks play the Avalanche the night before. Sending this road trip off in style would be huge for morale.
4. Sat 10 Apr – CGY @ VAN
Last home game of the regular season and their last game altogether. The implications on the standings with this one game will likely be very meaningful. This will make for a great battle to end the regular season.
3. Tue 02 Mar – VAN @ CBJ
First game back after Olympic break. This is also the start of the second half of the epic road trip, where this is the first of a 6-gm stint on the road. It’s vital for the Canucks to return from the break with a win and start this on the right note. A road win here will get the Canucks in the right mind set to close out this road trip.
2. Sat 13 Mar – OTT @ VAN
Home sweet home! This is the Canucks first home at GM Place in 40 days. It’s also a Saturday night game on CBC so all eyes will be watching the Canucks. They will need to get things on track quickly with a solid win here and give starved crowd what they need – a win!
1. Sat 30 Jan – VAN @ TOR
This is the single most important regular season game for the Vancouver Canucks for many reason. First, it’s the first game of their 14-game road trip. A win here sets this whole mammoth road trip on the right path from the start.
It’s against Toronto which, anyone in Vancouver will tell you, means a LOT to Canucks. We love seeing the Leafs and Leafs fans suffer.
Finally, it’s the prime time game on CBC Hockey Night in Canada where ALL of Canada will be watching this game.
For the Canucks’ psyche, for their morale, for their well-being, a win here could change their entire season. If they start this roadie off right, if they beat the Leafs for all their loyal Vancouver fans, and if they do it all on the national stage, the Canucks could define their season. If they lose, it could define their season for all the wrong reasons.
Can they do it?
Can they win these most important games and change the fate of their whole season?
Boy, I can’t wait to find out!
– Cam Davie