The Vancouver Canucks’ three-day rest couldn’t have come at a better time for them
Photo credit:© Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
By Michael Liu11 months ago
Oh, what a night.
An emphatic 7-1 trouncing of the Arizona Coyotes on Thursday continued the Vancouver Canucks’ run of form, pushing their win streak to five to keep their improbable playoff hopes alive. Make or miss, it’s a fun time to watch this team give their best shot at the postseason.
It feels as if everything is coming together. Elias Pettersson has recaptured his superstar form. J.T. Miller continues to be excellent. Thatcher Demko is standing tall between the pipes. Quinn Hughes is nearing a Canucks defenceman points record. And of course, the rise of Alex Chiasson and Vasily Podkolzin in elevated roles.
Regardless of if you think making the playoffs is a good idea at this juncture in time, it’s hard not to cheer for this team to battle it out until the math says it’s no longer possible. It’s why this three-day rest period couldn’t have been better timed.
Now, there will be concerns about the momentum halting. Canucks fans are intimately familiar with skidding halts to promising runs. Just look at the Detroit result on March 17th. After five straight wins, the Canucks were blanked and lost 1-0 at home.
But this rest could prove to be critical as the team rounds into the home stretch. Vancouver will be playing seven times in twelve days, with two back-to-backs thrown in for good measure. Any modicum of a breather to finish the season will allow the group to get their legs back underneath them. It gives time for the coaches to work on the little things, iron out any issues they’ve seen during the winning streak. The little adjustments they can make during this time might just be the tipping point to keep the ball rolling.
Not to mention the team they face on Easter Monday is one with heavy playoff implications. While the Canucks wrestled five of six points from the Vegas Golden Knights to sit three points back, it is the Nashville Predators and Dallas Stars that they are chasing for wild card spots. It’s those Stars that roll into town, currently five points ahead with one game in hand.
Dallas will play against the floundering Sharks on Saturday at home, before jetting off to face the Canucks on Monday. Assume their fellow sea-creature will do them no favours. With every point crucial, it’s essential for Vancouver to capitalize on the opportunity to play a direct competitor for the wild card. A win in regulation means a four-point swing, allowing the Canucks to claw even closer to that elusive playoff berth.
Looking past the Stars, there are stern tests that await them in the near future. The Canucks travel on Thursday to play the stingy Minnesota Wild, before rocking up to the Saddledome on Saturday to settle the season series against the Pacific-leading Calgary Flames. In their final two games of the season, Vancouver is pitted in a tough back-to-back, taking on a strong but hobbled LA Kings squad before facing off against the Edmonton Oilers.
Can they pull off wins against them? Maybe. But there are no maybes at this juncture of the season.
It’s why this small break is so needed. Getting the energy to push through a tough run of fixtures shouldn’t be underestimated. Hopefully, with the high of their winning streak, the Canucks can find their second wind to finish the year strong.
That’s not mentioning the reinforcements that could be on the way. Brock Boeser, who has been out since April 5th, is looking to return for Monday’s game. Say everything about his struggles this year, but Boeser’s presence in this lineup should not be discounted. He adds that trigger threat and the Canucks need all the scoring that they can get to push themselves over the line.
The injury timeline is promising. Judging by the fact that he is icing his right elbow, it doesn’t appear to have been a feared dislocation of the shoulder. Boeser could be back as soon as next week. Certainly, the added time off won’t be any harm to his recovery.
During the win against Arizona, Bo Horvat left the game after blocking a shot from Anton Stralman. Him not returning was slightly alarming, though by that time the Canucks had already established a comfortable lead, and decided it wasn’t necessary for him to return.
Though indications are that he is fine, the break will aid Horvat as well, shaking off whatever took him out. The captain has led by example as of late, putting up eight points in his last five games in his best offensive season since 2019-20. Bo knows crunch time, and being 100% for the final surge will do the Canucks wonders.
Are there even any questions about if he will play? Well, to quote Jim Robson, “He will play. You know he’ll play.”
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