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Photo Credit: JONATHAN HAYWARD / THE CANADIAN PRESS

CanucksArmy Roundtable: Scoreboard Watching

Here we are in late January, and the Vancouver Canucks are entering the NHL All-Star break tied for eighth place in the West (tiebreakers be damned), and who can honestly say that they saw this coming? Certainly not those negative nellies at CanucksArmy, that’s for sure!

And sure, the Canucks are getting all sorts of help from an abysmal Western Conference (I mean, good Lord, they’re basically on par with their last three playoff-missing seasons), but last I checked they’ll still let you into the playoffs as long as you make the top eight, even if a crap conference is giving you a helping hand.

Cue the debate on whether making the playoffs (or fighting to almost make them and just miss) are really the best thing for this team, given the very evident holes that still puncture their lineup. The Carolina game leading into the break certainly exposed them as a team that isn’t really ready for prime time. There are fierce and valid arguments on both sides.

I tend to err on the side of another high draft pick, with drafting being in my nature and all. Still, I can’t help but daydream a little bit about the likes of Elias Pettersson and Brock Boeser in a playoff (imagine that for a moment and tell me it doesn’t stir up some feels). And so here we are, with 30 games to go and I find myself keeping an eye on Minnesota, Colorado, Arizona and others night after night. Am I deranged?! Have the years of losing finally gotten to me?

To find out whether I’m alone in this regard, I’ve put this question to the fabled CanucksArmy Roundtable: is it too early for scoreboard watching? Here’s what our panel of esteemed writers had to say.

Stephen Roget

For a team on the playoff bubble, I don’t think it’s ever too early. The playoff race is going to be tight for the next several months, and so every point is as important right now as they would be in March and April – even if they’re not quite as dramatically relevant at the moment.

The Canucks only have a month before the February 25 Trade Deadline, and that means they probably need to decide how seriously they’re pursuing the playoffs in the next couple of weeks. This is arguably a more important time for Canucks fans to be watching the standings than the end of the season will be.

Alex Gable

I agree with that sentiment.

Watching both the Canucks and the Blues there’s also a sense of scoreboard watching for likely first round matchups. I think if you’re either team and you want to be a buyer (for this year) at the deadline, you have to ask yourself if you have a legitimate shot at making the second round. Can you beat the CGY’s, WPG’s, SJ’s, and NSH’s of the league? Especially given that they’ll also likely be adding talent. (edited)
Add on to that that a team like MIN is projected for 89 points and is sitting at third in the conference and I totally concur that now is a better time than later to be scoreboard watching.

Darryl Keeping

No, it’s not too early, but pulling for multiple bad teams can be frustrating.

Ryan Hank

I think it’s a bit early, personally. If you’ve bought in whole hog the Canucks can make it even with the weak Western Conference, things change daily and after the deadline is when things a get a bit more interesting. Even with a sweep I personally would be excited to see some extra hockey but it’s too early for me to make this a real thing.

Petbugs

Standings points are irrelevant until March. watch the goal differential.

Jackson McDonald

I’m watching the scoreboard because where the Canucks sit in the standings at the end of next month is going to determine what the Canucks do at the trade deadline. There’s no way they’re selling if they’re a stone’s throw away from a playoff spot come the deadline.

How the team does over the next few weeks is likely to influence how they handle roster composition heading into next season, and will absolutely influence who they target in free agency. We’ve seen who they’ve handed out contracts to after a bad season, I can’t imagine what they’ll do if they actually finish strong.

If you’re on team tank, it’s not gonna be enough to hope the Canucks flame out over the next month. The bottom of the west is so bad, that might not be enough. I’ll be watching the out-of-town scoreboards hoping a team like Anaheim goes on a run… and I won’t feel the least bit bad about it.

Kyle Chaters

Frankly, I started scoreboard watching back in early December, when that awful, month-long stretch of losing ended and the team had alarmingly somehow failed to separate in the standings from other poorly performing teams in the Pacific.

Watching Elias Pettersson every night gave fans something tangible to grasp on to; an appreciation for what a high draft pick can mean for a team. So what if the team was going to lose? All that meant was a head start on the best draft lottery odds. And if we get another player like Pettersson? It’s obviously worth it.

Except nothing is ever that easy for the Canucks. Almost the entire Pacific Division has decided to suck this year, and we now have to collectively suffer through this “Who’s the Least Awful Team That’s Still Pretty Awful” turtle derby for the two remaining playoff spots.

Because the standings are so close right now, I don’t know how you can’t pay attention. The Canucks are in and out of the playoffs every other day it seems like. Whether they make it or not, it’s going to be a big story for this team regardless. Unless something happens to help create a little separation, which isn’t likely, the fate of several teams could honestly come down to a single point. And that means that every point, in every game, every night, has significance right now.

  • As nice as the playoffs would be to watch, I would also really love a high pick and chance in the lottery in this year’s first round (not to mention, higher selections in all of the subsequent ones).

    But, if there are going to be playoff games at GM Place this year, at least don’t do anything dumb like buying at the deadline. Not selling will be a missed opportunity (you’d get a good haul for Sutter, I think, and he’s probably redundant on the team moving forward, but the team will view him as key for a playoff run), but nothing close to the rank stupidity that throwing away critical future assets in some quixotic bid to go deep this year when there are so many better teams whose contention windows are wide open now.

    • Makes no sense to make the playoffs then go out in 4 straight. Sell of the vets and load up on picks. Try for the playoffs next year after adding another 4 or 5 high picks. Then its just a waiting game.

    • Whatever happens will be a positive. If we sneak in, that’s good. If we win a round that’s good. If we miss playoffs and are in the lottery, that’s good too.

    • He’s just good at too many things. Brock was an easy pick for the shooting skills, he’s a true sniper. Petey does everything well. Too bad there isn’t an event for hockey IQ. Petey will be back, maybe next year he gets his chance to show off his shooting accuracy.

  • Say the Canucks do get in the play offs. Will they go anywhere against these top seeded western teams? Realistically, no. Do I think this young core group needs playoff experience ASAP? Yes. Do they have the depth to really make noise at the post season level? No. But is missing the playoffs and getting a nice pick okay too? Definitely. We have an exciting young team, the operative word, YOUNG. Whatever happens this has been a memorable season thus far, especially with the arrival of that kid from Sundsvall. Go Canucks Go.

  • The link Jeremy included in the second paragraph showed the Canucks with 52 points this year, 48 last year, 52 in 2017 and 52 in 2016. There is a difference between the 2017 and 2018 teams and this year’s team (I don’t remember what happened in 2016). In the 2016-17 season, the Canucks were doing good until Horvat and others got injured in late January. They went into the tank as the team could not survive the injuries with the lack of depth. Last year, the team was in the playoff race until the beginning of January when injuries hit (Horvat and Baertschi in back to back games). This year, the team had injuries early and have bounced back and are in the playoff race. They still lack the depth to survive a ton of injuries, but they have played well enough when healthy to survive the rash of injuries they had in November.

    I still think they would have to play well and have no injuries to have a chance to make the playoffs, the this year is different as they have survived early injuries vs the last two years when they were a bubble team until the injuries hit.

    I’m still in favour of trading some players to make room for prospects who have shown they are ready for a chance (MacEwan, Hughes, McEneny, etc).

  • The funny thing about this year is if the Canucks win. I’m happy as they might make the playoffs. If the Canucks lose. I’m happy because we get a good draft pick. We’ve got some players with NTCs. So I can see moves being made in the summer. More so then at the trade deadline next month. We have no control over the Canucks play or all the other bubble teams play. So I think it’s best to just enjoy the ride and enjoy watching the Canucks play some meaningful games over the next couple months. Don’t think about tank. Don’t think about playoffs. Just think about how lucky we are to have a team that actually has good team chemistry. We have no drama and the team is getting better.