As exciting as it’s been to see the Canucks claw their way out of the NHL’s basement since the removal of the coaching and management team back in December, it was always the longest of long shots that they could win enough games to actually get into a playoff position. And as promising as last week’s performance was, the cold splash of reality came last night, where a tired Canucks team ran into the same hot goalie who stymied them the last time these teams met, and a combination of sloppy defensive play and bad bounces led to a 4-1 loss in St Louis.
The Canucks have fourteen games remaining, and find themselves now in the situation of needing to win 11 of those games just to hit 95 points, which will likely be the playoff cutoff line. They are 6-4-3 in March with one game remaining, and while it’s been good, it’s had them treading water more than reaching the shore, as the teams ahead of them haven’t really faltered.
Last night showed us the impact of four games in six nights, as mentally and physically tired Canucks players had little left in the tank, leading to unforced errors and fortuitous bounces for the Blues. Jaroslav Halak wasn’t terrible, but as we’ve seen often this season, he didn’t get the effort he needed in front of him.
Compounding the situation is something that shouldn’t be a bad thing: A few days off. After tomorrow’s game against the Blues, the Canucks are off until Sunday. Rest is good, but the games in hand held by the teams they’re chasing are going to be what seals their fate on this season.
Just one game that matters tonight, but it’s a big one as Dallas is on the road in Anaheim to take on the Ducks. The Stars are just two points ahead of the Canucks right now but have a whopping four games in hand, and that means this game absolutely needs to end in regulation with a Ducks win.
Wednesday night is where it gets messy. The Winnipeg Jets are in Buffalo to take on the Sabres. Winnipeg is one point up on the Canucks with a game in hand. Los Angeles is in Edmonton to meet the Oilers. Edmonton is six points up with a game in hand on the Canucks, while the Kings have fourteen games left and are eight points clear of Vancouver, so hope for a regulation Kings win here.
Vegas is in Seattle, and if there were ever a time for the Kraken to play spoilers, it’s in this one. Vegas has fourteen games left, and are three points up.
Two games to watch on Thursday, with the Jets in Toronto for a meeting with the Leafs, and Dallas playing their second straight against the Ducks in a weird scheduling quack, I mean quirk. Friday night is a big one, with St Louis in Edmonton, and Vegas playing another one in Seattle. On Saturday the Jets host the Kings, while Dallas are in San Jose for a game against the Sharks. As you can see, that’s an incredible amount of scoreboard luck the Canucks will need just to stay close.
AROUND THE LEAGUE
It is with great sadness that the family of Eugene Melnyk and the Ottawa Senators hockey organization announce his passing on March 28, 2022 after an illness he faced with determination and courage. https://t.co/MrHsTvu7sz pic.twitter.com/DOZrJcD26e— Ottawa Senators (@Senators) March 29, 2022
Shocking news out of Ottawa last night as the Senators announced the passing of owner Eugene Melnyk. Melnyk, who purchased the Senators in 2003 was just 62 ears old. One of the NHL’s most controversial owners, he had a complicated relationship with the team, the city and the fans. It’s a huge blow to a franchise that has struggled throughout its existence, and now faces an uncertain future. While Melnyk often did things that seemed outlandish and detrimental to the team, he seemed to truly care about the club and the community, and was well known for his philanthropic contributions to charities like Roger Neilson House, a pediatric palliative care facility named after the legendary Senators and Canucks coach in Ottawa.