Another day, another scenes from morning skate.
It’s game 78 of the Vancouver Canucks’ 2021-22 season, and the stakes couldn’t be much higher.
After picking up just one point after dropping their Tuesday night matchup with the Ottawa Senators in overtime, the Canucks are back in action tonight facing the Minnesota Wild.
They will then face the Calgary Flames on Saturday night and return home for two games against the Seattle Kraken and L.A. Kings before closing out their season next Friday in Edmonton.
— Brendan Batchelor (@BatchHockey) April 20, 2022
Head coach Bruce Boudreau said the Canucks’ lineup would remain unchanged from Tuesday night’s game, except Alex Chiasson will make his return to the lineup. He’ll likely slot in for Nic Petan.
Thatcher Demko starts in goal for the Canucks, and the good news is that Minnesota is expected to start Cam Talbot instead of Marc-Andre Fleury tonight.
Can the Canucks still pull this off?
After the loss to Ottawa, the Canucks’ playoff odds were brought down to 6%, according to Dom Luszczyszyn of The Athletic’s model.
Now, after the Dallas Stars loss but the Vegas Golden Knights’ win over the Washington Capitals last night, those odds are down to 5%
In order to make the playoffs, the Canucks will quite literally have to win every game from here on out, and even then, it matters what the L.A. Kings do.
Currently, the Kings hold that highly-coveted third-place Pacific Division spot, and have four games remaining against Chicago, Anaheim, Seattle, and Vancouver next Thursday.
If the Kings win three of those four games against rather weak opponents, they will finish with 98 points.
If the Canucks win every game, they will finish with 97 points and miss the playoffs.
Essentially, to make the playoffs at this point, the Canucks will need L.A. to lose at least two of those games in regulation.
Alternatively, if the Kings go 2-1-1 and the Canucks win every game from here on out, they would win the tiebreaker and be granted a playoff spot despite both teams finishing with 97 points.
A failure to pick up a regulation win over Ottawa on Tuesday night — or Detroit and Buffalo earlier in the month — could in fact be the factor that ultimately costs the Canucks’ a playoff spot.
Well, that and an absolutely dreadful start to the season, of course.
“I think the lowest or the highest the team has gotten in without being in the playoffs is 96 points,” said head coach Bruce Boudreau. “So it’s gonna be right around there to get in — or better this year.”
“That threshold is pretty high. When you have to get almost 100 points to make the playoffs, that tells you that there are a lot of good teams in this league.”
What was said
If the Canucks want any chance at making the playoffs, they’ll need a win tonight, and Luke Schenn knows they’ll need to be ready to go against a high-quality Minnesota Wild team.
“They’re a big heavy team, they’re one of the hottest teams in the West,” said Schenn. “Since the trade deadline, they’ve been playing some great hockey. They’ve made some good moves and they’ve got a deep lineup. We’re going to have our work cut out for us for sure tonight. Like I said, they’ve got a lot of high-end skill, but just that depth, and they’ve got some size too. We’re gonna come ready to play tonight. It’s tough a building to play in and we experienced that last time so we’re gonna have to be ready to go tonight.”
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