CANUCKS vs LEAFS- Saturday Jan 6/18
Air Canada Center, Toronto , ON
4 PM PST
TV: CBC Radio: Sportsnet 650
If you haven’t been following along over the holiday season, things have been slowly slipping away for the Vancouver Canucks. The tank is on, kids. This team hasn’t been close to putting together anything that would resemble a winning streak that would keep them in contention for a playoff spot, so it’s time to put those dreams to bed and focus on the hellish reality. This team is still not very good and it’s rotting from the top down.
Jim Benning and Trevor Linden have to be held accountable for this mess at some point. Until that happens, the Canucks are going to be like this. At least they’re playing watchable (for the most part) hockey this season. The Willie Desjardins era (and let’s be fair, most of the dark days known as the Tortorellaing) were some of the worst hockey this franchise has seen, even when they were winning. While there are times where they’re bloody awful out there, they’re at least fun to watch.
That brings us to tonight’s game. No matter how bad the Canucks are, these games against the Leafs are always fun. There’s been some pretty great games over the last few years, especially since the NHL reverted it’s scheduling to ensure home and away dates against all Eastern teams. It still blows my mind that the Western teams didn’t get to see Sidney Crosby or Alex Ovechkin in some seasons. But hey, why would they want to do that when you could play against Oilers 8 times in the same schedule, right? Points are points.
So here they sit, 27th in the league, with only Arizona, Ottawa and Buffalo beneath them, they have a legitimate shot to finish last this season, and get the best odds at that 1st pick and Rasmus Dahlin. If you haven’t been watching the World Junior Championships, you’ve missed Dahlin, at just 17 years of age, put in a hell of a performance for the Swedish team (and let’s not forget Elias Pettersson, who is going to give the Canucks a 1-2 sniper punch with Brock Boeser that will be downright frightening for opposition goaltenders.
They take on a Leafs team tonight with struggles of their own. An injury to Auston Matthews derailed their torrid start to the season, but they’re still doing well, and it’s clear the days of old, where the notion of playoffs for the Leafs were laughable, are long gone. And while some of you might consider this blasphemy, I think you should pay close attention to the Leafs tonight, because this is what I think the Canucks should be shooting for in this “is it even a rebuild?” rebuild. Good goaltending, solid defence, and for the most part, 4 solid lines that can get the job done against whatever style you want to throw at them. If we can see a Canucks team that’s similar to what they have in Toronto say 2, maybe 3 years down the road, we’ll be lucky. The Leafs are fun as hell to watch, and will be making some serious noise soon enough.
And before I forget, here’s the updated SPW standings:
Neil B 15
Big D, little d 13