Ah, the good old hockey game.
With the NHL playoffs in full swing, the Vancouver Canucks continue to play fake hockey games in front of a crowd of cardboard cutouts.
Welcome to 2021.
The beginning of this contest looked like it was going to be the most forgetful game in franchise history, but Brock Boeser and J.T. Miller’s assault on the Flames in the third period at least made things interesting.
After trailing 5-1 after two periods, the Canucks scored four unanswered goals to tie the game at 5-5. Then in overtime, Edler notched his 100th career NHL goal.
ELIAS LINDHOLM WITH THE OTW!! pic.twitter.com/XHKVXOU17z— Taranjot Vining (@Str8OuttaCGY) May 17, 2021
Unfortunately, it was in his own net.
Here are some other thoughts as the Canucks wrapped up their third-last game of the season...
You have to laugh
We love those too!— Vancouver #Canucks (@Canucks) May 17, 2021
Honestly, I don’t think either team wanted to win this game.
After heading into the second intermission with a four-goal lead, Darryl Sutter must have glanced at the standings.
Prior to this win, the Flames had 51 points. In terms of lottery standings, they could surpass both the Arizona Coyotes (54 points) and the Chicago Blackhawks (55 points).
They now have 53 points after this win with two more games against the Canucks.
Clearly, Sutter is a little rusty in terms of tanking properly.
In case you’re wondering...
The Canucks are now-sixth worst in the NHL with 48 points. The Sharks and Kings are right in front Vancouver with 49 points.
Vancouver would pass the Sharks with one point thanks to regulation wins, but the Kings would hold the tiebreaker there.
Regardless, there’s a good chance that the Canucks finish with the 8th-best odds of winning the NHL draft lottery. The next team the Canucks could theoretically catch would be the Ottawa Senators, who are at 51 points. Vancouver would have to win their next two games to pass the Sens.
Who would have thought that less than 12 months after they were a win away from the Conference Finals, the Canucks would finish dead-last in the North Division behind the Senators.
You have to think...
About Bo Horvat tonight. He suited up for his 500th NHL contest on Sunday, which is notable for a few reasons.
1. Although he wasn’t a Jim Benning draft pick, he entered the league during Benning’s first season in charge. When you think about Horvat, you think about the beginning of the Benning era.
2. You can’t help but feel bad for Horvat and the lack of playoff hockey he’s experienced during his first 500 NHL games. It’s not a story as tragic as Jack Eichel’s, but it’s still pitiful that the Rodney, Ontario native has played in 19 career playoff games to date.
3. What will Bo’s next 500 games look like? Will the team enter a new era filled with playoff success, or will management fumble with opportunities and squander any chance of turning this team into a perennial Stanley Cup contender?
Your Move, Francesco
*Very long read* My letter to @fr_aquilini won't be read, but it's still therapeutic to put this out there. I feel a little better. #Canucks— Stephen Bridger (@StephenBridger) May 16, 2021
Dear Aquilini Family,
I am part of a growing majority of the fanbase that sees the current direction and leadership as unacceptable.
Wouldn’t it be nice if Francesco actually gave a response that’s even half as eloquent?
Who knows though, with the Canucks dismal season nearing a conclusion, change could be on the horizon.
If Benning, Green, or both end up not returning, we might get Francesco behind the mic for the first time in a long time.
Whoop-de-doo, what does it all mean!
About last summer...
With the NHL playoffs underway, it’s hard not to think about teams that seemed below the Canucks last summer.
I’m talking in particular about the Minnesota Wild, who were rock solid all season long, and won their first game of the playoffs against the Vegas Golden Knights.
A few things came together this year for Minnesota. They got good goaltending, career years from depth players, and a handful of their young players such as Joel Eriksson-Ek and Jordan Greenway became more impactful players on their team.
And of course, adding in a rookie of the year candidate in Kiril Kaprizov doesn’t hurt either.
However, the basis for Minnesota’s success still starts from their defence...and that’s what makes you think about this incarnation of the Canucks.
Vancouver has been one of the worst defensive teams in hockey for the last couple of seasons. It was easily their biggest flaw in last year’s playoffs as well. I theorized last week that I think the defence and forwards are both to blame but the fact of the matter is, can Vancouver actually go far in the playoffs with a defence that’s even similar to the one they have now?
A better question heading to the offseason is, can they become a better defensive team under Travis Green?
I think that’s probably the most underrated question facing this coaching staff as they enter contract negotiations in the coming days.