3 games and a whopping 7 goals to show for it. This isn’t a shock for some, as the changes the Canucks made in the off-season, while decent in how they swapped out parts of the Canucks desperate for change, weren’t seriously going to make the Canucks an offensive juggernaut.
And if there’s a method to the madness of Travis Green, it’s yet to reveal itself in the form of wins (save for the opener against the Oilers). Yes, it’s early and I am not suggesting that Green doesn’t know what he’s doing. It’s just puzzling that there’s a reluctance to get Virtanen and Boeser something resembling halfway decent ice time, but we think that’s likely coming from Jim Benning. In an interview with The Athletic (behind a paywall) this week, Benning made some pretty surprising statements in terms of how he views the draft lottery and whether the Canucks should be (ahem) angling to make their odds better in the lottery.
“Just because you're a bad team doesn't guarantee that you're going to get the first, second or third pick. You might as well try and be as competitive as you can be, because (even if you just) miss the playoffs, like Philly last year, they ended up with the second pick in the lottery.”
Never mind that, as many pointed out that isn’t how the entire process works. It was shocking after an off-season that I was (along with others) giving Benning good marks for seemingly embracing the situation that the Canucks were in, and making smart moves that were going to enable the team to begin transitioning to a new core. Instead, we get a GM trying to tell this fan base that he believes this team is competitive. And it looks like they’re going to try and prove it by keeping Derek Dorsett in every night, and giving Alex Burmistrov a start against the Calgary Flames instead of Jake Virtanen, who’s been one of the Canucks best so far. It’s disheartening, and why the attendance of Thursday night’s game was the lowest in 15 years.
And with Alexander Edler out for over a month, that means rotating in one of those 2 Dmen from the press box. While many assumed that it would be Alex Biega (again), instead we get to see Derrick Pouliot make his Canucks debut. And while a lot of eyes will be on him as he tries to make the most of this shot at redemption, the rest of the Canucks D, especially Erik Gudbranson will be under the microscope. Guddy’s been underwhelming at best as a Canuck, so if there were ever a time for him to live up to his perceived potential, right now would be good. And that means playing a defensively solid and physical game against a team that likes to bang in the Flames. They will be trying to get into Anders Nilsson’s grill tonight as he makes his first start of the year.
Meanwhile the Flames, picked by some to be contenders from the Pacific this season have sputtered a bit. They lost 3-0 to the Oilers on opening night, but responded well with a 6-3 thrashing of the Jets, a 2-0 shutout of Anaheim, winning at the Honda Center for the first time since 1937, and a 4-3 OT win over the previously undefeated Kings. So what the heck happened last night? 6-0 to the Ottawa Senators? Maybe, just maybe Mike Smith isn’t the answer.
It would have been great for the Flames to start Eddie Lack tonight, but no. It’s all about Mike Smith being able to redeem himself. The beauty of this game? If the Canucks light him up, it’s because haha Mike Smith sucks. And if he wins? Well duh, it’s the Canucks.