logo

Despite recent flubs, the Canucks will still enter playoffs with a winning record against likely opponents

alt
Photo credit:© Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports
Stephan Roget
1 month ago
The back-half of March, heading into the first week of April, have not exactly been ideal days for the Vancouver Canucks.
Now, as of this writing, the Canucks are still sitting atop the Pacific Division standings as the only team in the division to reach 100 points as of yet.
Over their last 10 games, Vancouver is 5-4-1, which is not a great record, but still above .500.
But it’s not the overall record that is particularly concerning to the team, their fans, and the media that covers them. It’s more the specificity, as in who the Canucks have beat…and who they haven’t.
It’s more the stuff like this:
Since the middle of March, the situation goes something like this. Canucks lose to Colorado, then to Washington, two playoff-bound teams. Then they hit a three-game winning streak against three non-playoff teams in Buffalo, Montreal, and Calgary. Next up are two consecutive losses against Western Conference contenders in Los Angeles and Dallas. Then a win against lowly Anaheim, to be followed up by Tuesday’s 6-3 defeat at the hands of the Golden Knights.
It’s not difficult to see where the worry is coming from. In just seven games from now, the schedule flips over from “regular” to “postseason,” at which point the Canucks run out of non-playoff opponents.
Worse still is the fact that a couple of these opponents, namely Los Angeles and Vegas, are teams that the Canucks are very likely to play against in the opening rounds of the playoffs. If the Canucks can’t beat them now, who’s to say they can when the chips are really down?
These are valid concerns, and it’s true that playoff hockey, which relies heavily on momentum, is very much a “what have you done for me lately?” endeavour. But that said, an overall look at the Canucks’ performance against likely playoff opponents paints a much rosier picture, contrary to the recency bias.
And those few remaining games on the schedule offer up a few key opportunities for a little fine-tuning, redemption, and momentum reversal.
It’s fairly safe to say at this point that the Canucks will play one of four potential teams in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs: Los Angeles, Vegas, or Edmonton out of the Pacific, or Nashville from the Wild Card.
The final few games will determine the exact matchups. But it is still possible that the Canucks enter the playoffs with a winning or even record against all but one of those teams.
Vancouver is 3-0 against Nashville this season, having beaten the Predators by a cumulative score of 13-6. Now, to be fair, all three of those games came before the new year, and Nashville has been an entirely different team over the past couple of months. But the two teams will not match up again in the regular season. If the Predators face the Canucks in Round One, they’ll do so not having beaten the Canucks as of yet.
The same could go for the Edmonton Oilers. Currently, the Canucks are 3-0 against the Oilers, too, and to the tune of a 18-6 scoring differential, at that. The two teams will face each other once more in the regular season,  on April 13, which will be a good opportunity for Edmonton to win back some head-to-head momentum.
At the same time, it will also be a great opportunity for the Canucks to send the Oilers into any potential playoff matchup already down four losses in a row.
Next comes the LA Kings. Here, the Canucks have essentially alternated wins and losses, with all games having come over the past six weeks.
The Canucks lost to the Kings 5-1 on February 29. They returned five days later to win 2-1, and then dropped a hard-fought 3-2 decision on March 25.
That gives the Canucks a 2-1-0 record against the Kings thus far. And there’s one more matchup coming this Saturday, April 6. Should the Canucks find a way to win, they’ll not even tie the season series, but they’ll head into the playoffs with the most recent head-to-head win, which has to count for something.
Lastly, we reach the Vegas Golden Knights. Here, too, the Canucks have alternated losses and wins, albeit with the losses coming in more decided fashion. A November 30 loss with a 4-1 score, a March 7 victory to the tune of 3-1, and then Tuesday’s 6-3 defeat, which wasn’t quite a drubbing, but felt like it could have been.
Still, it’s the same deal here as it is with LA. The Canucks have one more game against the Golden Knights set for Monday, April 8. Beat them then, and the Canucks even the season series and get the recency momentum boost heading into the playoffs.
That’s, for those keeping score at home, a full three of the Canucks’ remaining seven regular season games with potentially serious consequences and impact. In other words, this 100-point team still absolutely has something to play for, and that’s a sense of comfort with the opposition that they’ve potentially lost of late.
Tally it all together, and the Canucks currently have a record of 8-4-0 against likely first round playoff opponents. That’s pretty darn good, and doesn’t exactly stand out as something worth much worry.
Should the Canucks eke out important wins against LA, Vegas, and Edmonton in the days to come, they’d enter the playoffs with an 11-4-0 record against likely opponents. Heck, even if they dropped all three, they’d still have a winning record at 8-7-0…but let’s not put too much thought into that possibility, because then we’d really have cause for concern.
The larger point here is that as demoralizing as a few of the recent losses have been, they don’t really change the outlook on a Canucks team that has already proven that they can contend and compete with the best of the best.
The playoffs are a different beast altogether, it’s true. But what the Canucks do in the handful of remaining games to come will go a long way toward further proving that they’re ready for anyone.
Join Sekeres & Price and the CanucksArmy crew on Saturday April 20th at the Hollywood Theatre in Kitsilano for a special tribute to their late friend, Jason Botchford, presented by Fountain Tire. “Bro, Do Your Playoffs” is a media event celebrating the life and legacy of Jason that will feature shared memories, special guests, an exclusive performance from The Matinée and the celebration of Vancouver’s triumphant return to the playoffs. This event is in support of the BC Mental Health Foundation. Get your tickets now at https://www.showpass.com/hollywood-brodoyourplayoffs/

Check out these posts...