Here’s a link to my Province column on Alex Burrows closing in on 1,000 games as a professional. Considering he wasn’t sure he’d ever play one, getting to a thousand is a pretty remarkable accomplishment
Here’s a link to a piece I wrote for Canucks Army on Dan Hamhuis and what it means to him to be a mentor for his young teammates
Here is a link to a piece I wrote this week for Canucks Army. It’s on Adam Cracknell and his day to day existence as a grinder in the NHL. He’s not a star and he’s perfectly okay with that.
Things have changed. Please look for my thoughts and observations on the Vancouver Canucks at The Province and Canucks Army. I’ll be writing and podcasting weekly for The Province and contributing to the Army a couple of times each week.
Here’s a link to my first podcast with Canucks beat writer Jason Botchford: Click for podcast
And here’s my first column for The Province: urging the Canucks to play Ben Hutton and play him alot
And here’s a link to my first Canucks Army column: Why Emerson Etem burns to get back to the playoffs
I wrote about the issues the Canucks would likely have filling Rogers Arena if they managed to qualify for the playoffs Could the Canucks sellout their playoff games?
A few thoughts on Saturday’s loss to Calgary. I won’t go deep because really there isn’t much to say. In fact, I didn’t even watch the game last night. It’s Family Day weekend and I attended my daughter’s dance recital which provided far more entertainment. I did, however, PVR the game and watched it this morning. Thank the Lord for the fast forward button.
Another night and another goal. I know the organization clings to the dream of a playoff spot, but I have yet to hear any good explanation from inside the walls of Rogers Arena about how the Canucks truly believe they can get there with one goal each night. And for the longest time last night, it looked like they may not meet their modest quota before Emerson Etem beat Jonas Hiller in garbage time to put the Canucks on the board.
The top line has gone missing in action. The second line has followed suit. Right now the Canucks are a one-line team and that one line is being led by Linden Vey. In fact, over the past eight games, Vey has a share of the team scoring lead with 2+4=6 (Bo Horvat has 3+3=6 in that span). Such is the plight of the Vancouver Canucks that a mid-season call-up is basically carrying the offense these days. Again, somebody please lay it out for me in the simplest of terms how the playoffs can possibly be a possibility.
It’s one thing to lose. It’s another to lose in such a dull fashion on so many nights. And just look at the Canucks results since January 1st. They’ve played 14 games and have scored 29 goals. On six occasions, including the past three games, the Canucks have managed to score just once. But it goes back much futher than the start of the new year. Five times in 13 games in December the Canucks were held to a single goal or shutout. So do the math and that’s 11 of the past 27 games (more than 40%) that this team has played that it has barely put a dent in the scoreboard. At this point, I am volunteering to drive to Utica to pick Hunter Shinkaruk up and personally deliver him to the Canucks. I’d probably find room in the backseat for Brendan Gaunce and maybe even Alex Grenier, too.
I read the quotes from Willie Desjardins post-game last night on his refusal to switch up his line combinations. He claimed he sensed things were moving in the right direction. Someone needs to place the previous paragraph in front of him. I know the coach isn’t blessed with the best line-up in the league and has had to deal with some key injuries, so I will cut him some slack on where the team sits in the overall standings. My biggest issue with Willie D. since his arrival on the job has been his lack of in-game adjustments. He seems to have his game plan set in stone and for whatever reasons refuses to budge from it. Somebody needs to hi-jack that whiteboard he carries with him and come up with some new ideas for him. The game plan and the line combinations as currently constructed are not working. At the very least, swap Radim Vrbata and Jannik Hansen. Do something. Anything. But don’t come back with the same line-up on Tuesday in Denver.
*I was truly delighted for Dan Hamhuis to see him back into the line-up last night. If you haven’t seen the piece Jay Janower of Global TV did earlier in the week, take a few minutes and watch it. Jay was given unprecedented access to the plastic surgeon who pieced Hamhuis’ face back together in the days after his jaw was shattered against the Rangers on December 9th. When you see the images and hear the surgeon describe all that was involved in the procedure(s), it is crazy to comprehend that Hamhuis is back playing a contact sport at the highest level less than two months after his terrible injury. There are many jobs in this world that I just can’t wrap my head around, but it completely boggles my mind that there are doctors out there who have the knowledge and ability to reconstruct the human skull.
*Congratulations to my old stomping grounds Kamloops for the job the city did as the host of yesterday’s Hockey Day in Canada. I enjoyed six great years there and was fortunate to cut my teeth in broadcasting calling games for that 1994-95 Memorial Cup winning team that was at the centre of much of this weekend’s celebrations.
*And finally, thanks to all for your kind words after my announcement Friday that I will be joining The Province and Canucks Army. I will be writing for both outlets in the days ahead. Please find me there.
So let’s see if I have this straight: the Canucks went into the All-Star break with a 2-1 loss on home ice and came out of the break with a 2-1 loss at home. Call me crazy, but that doesn’t exactly sound like a road map to the post-season. The loss to Nashville before the break was bad, but a loss to 30th place Columbus with a third-stringer between the pipes borders on inexcusable for a team needing to make something happen.
Hey, give Joonas Korpisalo (I’m pretty sure I spelled that correctly) all the credit in the world. Behind a patchwork defense, the guy gave up a first period power play goal and that was it including staring down all three Canucks shooters he faced in his first NHL shootout. But enough about the Blue Jackets.
This is a Canucks blog and the Canucks have to own the fact that they have lost three straight and four of their last five. They are completely healthy up front and have two goals in their last two games. No one is talking about this — so I will –this year’s version of the Canucks is now on pace for the lowest single-season goal total in franchise history (non-lockout seasons). These Canucks have 119 goals through 51 games which puts the team on pace for 191 goals. The John Tortorella-led Canucks of 2013-14 couldn’t find the net to save their lives and still scored 196 goals while the 1998-99 team which saw the end of the Mike Keenan era and the introduction mid-season of Marc Crawford as head coach produced 192 goals. Again, this team is on pace for 191. Just let that sink in for a moment. The Canucks are 26th in the NHL right now, but give it a week and there’s a pretty good chance they’ll drop to 29th in overall offense with New Jersey and Philadelphia just two back and Toronto only three behind.
So the playoff talk seems a bit much especially on a night when the Canucks get a single-point but both Anaheim and San Jose pick up a pair. The Canucks talk about getting players back and about taking advantage of a lighter schedule with more home games and little in the way of onerous travel and they’re offered up a gift in the form of the Blue Jackets to start the stretch run and can’t do anything with it. That’s a problem.
I thought this might be the night the Canucks finally beat the same opponent in regulation for the first time all season. Silly me. They had chances. Oh, they had lots of chances. But you don’t hear winning teams talk about their chances. Finish a few of those opportunities, put the Jackets away and feel free to talk about building on one victory and trying to back it up with another on Saturday against Calgary. Instead, the Canucks are just spinning their wheels while teams roar past them in the passing lane to the post-season.
Speaking of being in the passing lane, on the night of December 18th the Canucks left Detroit with a 4-3 shootout win over the Red Wings. Radim Vrbata had a goal and an assist that night boosting his point total to 10+7=17 on the season. Meanwhile, Bo Horvat was mired in his pre-Christmas slump and was sitting with just 2+7=9. Here we are six weeks later and with an assist on Linden Vey’s goal on Thursday night, Horvat moved past Vrbata into fourth in team scoring. Since that night at the Joe, Horvat has 7+7=14 in 17 games while Vrbata has struggled with just 1+4=5.
I’ve been charting who has scored the Canucks power play goals of late. Since the start of 2016, the Canucks have six goals with the man-advantage. Horvat has a pair while Baertschi and Vey have also scored as have Daniel Sedin and Radim Vrbata. So four of the six PP goals have been produced by Canucks youth. That’s a promising sign for now and for the future. And maybe it should give the coaching staff something to think about rather than running the Sedins, Vrbata, Sutter and Edler out there to start every single power play.
Sven Baertschi picked up another point and nearly netted the winner when he rang a shot off the cross bar in the third period. For all the angst over Baertschi at the outset of the season, the guy now has 20 points in 46 games as a Canuck. Those numbers won’t blow anyone away, but they’re not terrible either considering his lack of playing time in the first couple of months of the season.
On the topic of point production, guess who leads all Canucks defensemen in scoring over the past 20 games? Did anybody say Chris Tanev? Okay, the photo kind of gave it away. Yep, actually Tanev, not known for his work in the offensive end of the ice, is the runaway leader in that race with 1+7=8 followed by Ben Hutton 1+3 along with Matt Bartkowski and Alex Biega each with 0+4. Alex Edler is stuck in an offensive rut with just 0+3 in his past 21 outings. As a group, the Canucks blueline has 12 goals all season. There are five defensemen in the league with more than 12 on their own this season and one other sitting with a dozen goals. I get that it’s not all about offense from the back end, but some offense would be a good place to start. Man, does Jim Benning have his hands full trying to revamp that defense corps over the next few seasons.
And with Dan Hamhuis set to return on Saturday, the Canucks have now placed Yannick Weber on waivers. This is a guy who scored 11 goals last season, but has fallen completely off the depth chart on a team with a power play that has been running at 12% over teh past two months. With Weber’s time here seemingly through, someone currently in the line-up will have to sit to make way for Hamhuis and you’d have to figure that someone will be Matt Bartkowski.
Thanks for checking in with the blog. If you haven’t been here since the last Canucks game, please check out the two non game-related posts I wrote over the All-Star break on Chris Tanev’s season and Ryan Miller’s pursuit of a spot in the NHL’s all-time top 20 wins list.
A refresher for those requiring one as the Vancouver Canucks get back to work Thursday night after a nine day layoff. The Canucks sputtered into the National Hockey League All-Star break with a pair of one-goal losses to Pittsburgh and Nashville. Those setbacks leave the Canucks with a record of 20-19-11 good for 51 points through their first 50 games. They sit tied for fourth in the Pacific Division two points back of third place Arizona, but it must be pointed out that the three teams the Canucks are chasing (Los Angeles, San Jose and Arizona along with the team they’re tied with Anaheim) all hold at least a game in hand on the Canucks. And as I’ve mentioned before — but it bears repeating — with just 16 regulation or overtime wins on the season, the Canucks are in a world of hurt when it comes to the first tie-breaker for playoff positioning. So as you read the standings the remainder of the way this season, it’s almost worth tacking on an extra point to the Canucks deficit in the playoff chase because they will have to finish ahead of teams to get the nod. A tie with any of those teams around them at the end of the season will do them no good based on their lack of ROWs.
I find year over year comparisons interesting to see where improvement has been made or where traction has been lost in Willie Desjardins’ second season behind the bench. In the Canucks case, they were 28-19-3 and had 59 points through 50 games one season ago. So that’s the same number of outright losses, but eight victories last season have become overtime or shootout losses this time around.
At this point in the schedule last season, the Canucks were 13-11-1 on home ice and 15-8-2 on the road. The home record has been a major disappointment this season. At 9-9-4 at Rogers Arena, the Canucks are the only Western Conference team without double-digit victories in front of their home fans so far this season. They’ve held their own on the road at 11-10-7, but their road point total is still off from this point last season.
The Canucks -17 goal differential is a massive concern for those who still feel this is a playoff team. Right now, among the 16 teams holding down playoff spots at the break Arizona at -15 has the worst goal differential with Detroit (-2) the only other team in the red but on the right side of the playoff bar. In 30 of their 50 games so far this season, the Canucks have scored two or fewer goals. They have scored twice in a game 17 times, once on eight occasions and have been shutout in five contests. Goals get harder to come by down the stretch and you just have to wonder how much offense the Canucks will generate the rest of the way — especially with a power play that has plummeted to 24th in the NHL (16.8%) and has not scored since a Radim Vrbata 5-on-3 goal in Washington six games ago.
At this time last season, Daniel and Henrik Sedin each had 42 points while Vrbata had 35 and Nick Bonino sat fourth in team scoring with 25. This season, Daniel leads the way with 44 followed by Henrik with 37, Jannik Hansen is up to 26 and Vrbata and Bo Horvat are tied for fourth with 22. Last season through 50 games, the Canucks had scored 131 goals as a team and had five goal scorers already in double-digits — this season as a group they’ve put up 118 goals and only three players have reached 10 or more.
And with that drop in production, it stands to reason that winning hockey games is that much more difficult. Last year at this time, Ryan Miller was an impressive 24-13-1 (49 points). This season he’s underwhelmed with a record of 11-14-7 (29 points).
I’ve stated my case for the record before: I just don’t have the appetite to watch the Canucks squeak into the playoffs only to struggle offensively and go meekly into the summer by being ousted in five or six games. And I’m a guy who loves playoff hockey and the excitement it generates. But I’d much rather see the team look to the future and forego a couple of home playoff dates this season and instead push to have the type of team that could win a round or two a year from now.
Right now with 51 points in 50 games, the Canucks are on pace to finish with 84 points. With San Jose (8-0-2) and Anaheim (7-3) heating up in their past 10 games and pushing the LA Kings in the Pacific, the Canucks are likely going to need 40 points from their final 32 games to make the playoffs. I just don’t see how that happens.
It’s February, the countdown is officially on to the trade deadline four Mondays from now and if the Canucks do the wise thing, this should be a fascinating month ahead. And I can’t wait to see what this team’s roster looks like on March 1st and beyond.
Thanks to the guys at The Province for providing a link to my recent blog on Chris Tanev in today’s The Morning Skate
Ryan Miller is circling the block and is closing in on a spot in the National Hockey League’s high-rent district. The Canucks goalie is nearing inclusion in the top-20 all time when it comes to NHL victories. He needs one more to match Gump Worsley — the Gumpster, how cool is that? — for 21st spot on the career list and then he’s chasing a moving target with Marc-Andre Fleury currently sitting in 20th.
Here is the list updated heading into the NHL All-Star break:
As I looked at the list, I wondered how far up that totem pole can and will Ryan Miller rise? He’d need 70 more victories to reach the top 10 all-time. That seems like a stretch to me to catch Grant Fuhr at 403. With the remainder of this year, plus one more on his contract with the Canucks, he’s sure to have at least one more full season to add to his total. At the end of his current deal, he’ll be weeks shy of his 37th birthday. Will there still be a place in the NHL for the 37-year-old veteran? That’s a big picture question that certainly plays into all of this.
In the here and now, the Canucks have 32 games remaining this season. How many starts will Miller get? It’s hard to imagine him getting more than 75% of the remaining games so that will put him between the pipes in the 20-24 game range. Of those starts, how many wins can he and the Canucks realistically expect? Given the Canucks are pretty much a .500 hockey club, it seems hard to go much higher than 12 victories the rest of the way for Miller who has just two victories in his last eight starts so he hasn’t exactly been plumping up his total of late.
Next year, you have to ask what Miller’s role will be with Jacob Markstrom pushing for more playing time. If it’s a 50/50 split (although it rarely ever is with goalie tandems in the NHL), then Miller will get 40 starts to pad his stats. Of those, how many will he win? What kind of team will the Canucks be next season? Can Miller, who’s been hurt in each of the past two seasons, stay healthy enough to get the bulk of his suggested starts? As you can see, lots will play into this.
Three active goalies — Roberto Luongo, Henrik Lundqvist and Marc-Andre Fleury — are ahead of Miller on the wins list. So they will continue to add to their totals making it tough to pin point exactly where Miller will end up. Miller won’t catch Luongo (423) and is unlikely to reel in King Henrik (362) at the pace he’s on.
Right now, Ryan Miller’s most-realistic target might be the 374 wins amassed by John Vanbiesbrouck during his career. The Beezer sits 14th all-time and holds the record for wins by an American netminder and Miller very much remains within striking distance of that mark. Tom Barrasso with 369 is the only other US-born goalie in the top 20. Should Miller make it past Vanbiesbrouck it’ll be a terrific accomplishment for a guy taken in the fifth round of his draft class. However, his stay in the record books will likely be a temporary one as Jonathan Quick’s age (30) and career trajectory (238 victories) has him positioned to become the all-time wins leader by a US goalie before his playing days are through.
So back to the original question: how many wins does Ryan Miller have left? I’d suggest it’s somewhere between 40 and 50. I think he can win 10-12 more this year and another 20 to 25 next season. I don’t know this for sure, but I do think he’ll pursue at least one more contract when his current deal is done — perhaps he’ll seek employment as a veteran back-up in Southern California to finally live and work in the same city as his wife and young son.
To answer my own question, my best guess will be Ryan Miller finishes somewhere between Vanbiesbrouck’s 374 and Mike Vernon’s 385 putting him into the top-15 all-time among the guys who’ve guarded the nets.
I’ve had my say. I’d love to hear from you. How many wins does Ryan Miller have left in him?
Chris Tanev is having a season for the ages. In fact, it’s the kind of season that should be attracting attention from all corners of the National Hockey League. In typical Tanev fashion, however, the way he is going about his business this season is so remarkably understated that he isn’t getting noticed by many — and that includes NHL referees.
Tanev heads into the all-star break having gone a mind-boggling 33 games without a penalty. Not a hook, not a hold, not a trip, not even a rolling puck that sailed over the glass and out of play for a silly delay of game penalty. Nothing. Absolutely nothing since a visit to the box on November 4th in the Canucks 13th game of the season. Since then his rap sheet has been completely clean which is remarkable when you consider how much he plays. Making his penalty-free run even more impressive is that fact that almost every time Tanev’s on the ice he’s matched up against the other team’s top players. And all of this comes at a point in time when it’s universally agreed players have never been bigger or faster or harder to defend. And none of that seems to matter to Tanev who just goes about his business of battling the best in the business and doing it with savvy body positioning and sublime stick awareness.
The following chart shows all of NHL defensemen this season who have played more than 300 minutes and taken two (or fewer) trips to the penalty box. Look at the time on ice column on the right. No one else is in Tanev’s league this season.
The gap simply shouldn’t be that wide. These are all guys playing the same position in the same league and when it comes to playing penalty free, Chris Tanev is skating circles around his blueline brethren. Tanev’s season is so remarkable that on a recent night, his own defense partner Alex Edler took three minor penalties in one game — in one night, the guy Tanev shares the ice with spent more time in the penalty box than Tanev has all season. On the year, Edler has 44 penalty minutes to Tanev’s four.
And in the Canucks last outing against Nashville, both Matt Bartkowski (tripping) and Ben Hutton (hooking) were whistled for infractions. Penalties happen. Well, apparently they happen to everybody but Chris Tanev who is having the type of season seen only once in the past decade.
The following chart shows the 10 players in the past 10 years who have played at least 70 games in a season with four or fewer penalty minutes. Note that Jamie McBain is the only defender on the list:
Now all of the above evidence should serve as a pretty compelling case for Chris Tanev to win the Lady Byng Trophy this season. But he probably won’t. One of the NHL’s dirty little secrets is that only once in the past 50 years has a defenseman won the award presented annually ‘to the player adjudged to have exhibited the best type of sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with a high standard of playing ability.’ Florida’s Brian Campbell stands alone in the 2011-12 season when he had six penalty minutes along with 53 points.
And that’s the problem with the award and with Tanev’s chances of being singled out. Somewhere along the trail the Lady Byng has become the award for the guy with the most points and fewest penalty minutes. Members of the Professional Hockey Writers Association who vote on the award just look at the first page of the league scoring leaders and find their candidates there. Well, Tanev is never going to show up on the first page — or the first 10 pages for that matter — when it comes to putting up points.
But we’re in the information age where more statistical evidence than ever before is available to those voters about a player’s ability and the impact he can have on a game. And these days that goes well beyond goals and assists. These are smart and seasoned hockey writers who should want to scratch beneath the surface and collect all the data when it comes to recognizing the best possible candidates for year-end league awards.
Chris Tanev has developed into one of the best defensive defensemen in the game. And the fact he’s been able to do so while playing within the bounds of the rules is a remarkable achievement, an admirable quality and something that deserves some league-wide recognition.
Nobody every starts into the season with the goal of winning the Lady Byng trophy in mind. And yet every year it’s presented, so somebody has to get it. There are lots of strong candidates having fine seasons many of them which much higher profiles than Chris Tanev. That doesn’t make them more deserving of the honour, but it certainly makes them much stronger candidates. And that’s a shame.
However it plays out, I’m sure you won’t hear Chris Tanev grumble about things. That could be construed as unsportsmanlike conduct. And he’s shown time and time again this season, that’s simply not the kind of guy he is.
Dear hockey gods: please, please, please don’t let the Vancouver Canucks and Nashville Predators meet in the playoffs. I don’t care how twisted your sense of humour may be, no one needs the potential of seven games of what we all had to sit through on Tuesday night.
Now, the good news is that based on the seasons they’ve had and where they find themselves in the standings, some crazy things would have to happen for the Canucks and Preds to meet early in the post-season. And based on the way the two teams played on Tuesday, they are even longer shots to meet further down the post-season path.
That was one ugly hockey game with an ugly result for the home team as the Canucks fell 2-1 on home ice on a late James Neal goal. The night marked the third time in the past seven games the Canucks managed just one goal and although they found a way to win in Brooklyn (2-1 in a shootout) scoring just one goal won’t yield the desired result often. In the past 15 games the Canucks have been involved in, six have ended 3-2 and five others have finished 2-1 with seven of the 15 settled in overtime. And Tuesday looked like it was headed for O/T as well until the Canucks got their signals crossed and a sloppy line change came back to bite them. Stop me if you’ve heard this story before (like in the third period in Pittsburgh on Saturday).
This one was an untimely miscue and put the Canucks behind the 8-ball to be sure. But there was still 4:44 left in regulation time. The Canucks had nearly five minutes to force the issue in an attempt to score the equalizer. And here’s my problem: down a goal, the Canucks generated three shots on goal the rest of the way — two of them off the stick of Emerson Etem. And it must be pointed out that the Canucks spent the final 1:49 of the third on the power play. And with the 5-on-4 and then 6-on-4 advantage, Jannik Hansen was the only Canuck to muster a shot on goal in the final 109 seconds. That’s shameful. The game on the line, the team on the power play, and the best the Canucks could do was one shot on goal. I know Linden Vey had a late chance, but missed the target. Make Pekka Rinne make a freakin’ save. Put it on net and maybe you score or perhaps there’s a rebound. But missing the target doesn’t accomplish anything.
It’s hard to knock Brandon Sutter’s performance in his return to the line-up. He scored a nice goal to tie the game at one, he logged 16:44, saw both power play and penalty killing duty, had three shots on goal, blocked a pair of Predators attempts and won six of the 14 face-offs he took. That’s a pretty complete effort for a guy coming off sports hernia surgery and should give him all kinds of confidence when the schedule picks up after the All-Star break.
At the other end of the spectrum, Adam Cracknell has to know he’s fighting for his job at the big league level and didn’t do himself many favours on Tuesday. Not only did he collide with linemates Jake Virtanen and Derek Dorsett on separate shifts, but went 0 for 6 in the face-off circle. With Henrik Sedin set to return after the break, Jared McCann more likely to play than sit and Linden Vey now requiring waivers again should he be sent to the farm, the Canucks will soon have some meaty decisions to make regarding their roster. And Willie Desjardins didn’t really go to bat for Brandon Prust after Tuesday’s morning skate when asked about the veteran sitting for a third straight game. Desjardins told the media that Prust played well early, but just hadn’t been the same since his October 27th ankle injury.
It was another quiet night for Radim Vrbata (1 shot and on for both Nashville goals) and I just don’t know how this story ends now with 11 games to go before the trade deadline. I feel like I harp on Vrbata after every game — but I just want to see some sign of life that either makes him valuable to the Canucks down the stretch or an intriguing option to a playoff contender. With the CHL Top Prospects game in town on Thursday, there were a handful of NHL GMs at Rogers Arena on Tuesday night. I doubt any made a beeline for Jim Benning after the game making inquiries about the cost of a guy like Vrbata. And with Prust a healthy scratch and Dan Hamhuis skating but not yet playing, Tuesday was hardly a showcase of the Canucks pending UFAs who may be available in the weeks ahead.
I received a text from retired Vancouver Sun beat writer Elliott Pap prior to Tuesday’s game. He was wondering about the last time the Canucks had gone wire to wire to win a hockey game (opened the scoring and were never tied or trailed). I told him I thought it was likely the 5-1 win over Montreal on October 27th and if not then for certain it was the team’s 3-0 win in Los Angeles in the first week of the season. However, neither of those was the correct answer. After a little digging it was revealed it was a 4-3 win in Arizona on October 30th. With Richard Bachman in goal, they jumped out to a 3-0 lead, then after a pair of Coyotes goals, Daniel Sedin extended the lead to 4-2 and the Canucks held on for a 4-3 victory. Yeah, it’s been three months since a wire to wire win. These guys don’t make life easy on themselves.
The Canucks are now 50 games into their season. They are 20-19-11. So that’s 20 wins and 30 losses. To their credit and through some significant injuries in the past month, the Canucks have managed to pick up points. The last two losses marked the first time in six weeks that the Canucks have dropped back to back games in regulation. However, they have to start winning games in regulation — they have just five regulation victories in their past 27 outings and their last regulation win against a Western Conference opponent remains November 25th in Minnesota. Now, to be fair they haven’t faced many western foes lately with a couple of lengthy eastern road trips in the past six weeks. But the only way this team will get to the playoffs is by taking two points and giving up none on a bunch of nights after the break. With 32 games to go, the math starts to take care of itself — the Canucks have 51 points points. If they go 20-12 the rest of the way, that gets them to 91 points. I don’t know if that will be enough to make the playoffs, but in the Pacific Division this season it’s possible. I imagine 22-10 would get them where they want to go, but does anyone see this team winning 22 of its final 32 games? That seems like an awfully tall order for a team that hasn’t demonstrated any ability to string wins together to this point of the season.
I have a few non game-related thoughts and ideas rattling around in my head that I will try to blog about during the Canucks downtime here over the next 10 days. If you have any questions or topics you’d like me to cover, please let me know in the comments section. Thanks as always for your support of this space. Enjoy the All-Star break.