With just 12 games to go in the season, the Canucks have entered that time of year again where the stretch of meaningful games has pretty much come to an end.
70 games into the campaign and sitting at just 74 points, making the playoffs is going to take a miracle for this team at this point, although if you look at it from a deeper perspective, the chances of this happening are essentially impossible.
Nontheless, it isn’t over till its over and until the Canucks are officially eliminated from playoff contention, anything is possible.
Over the last 2 games, with the Canucks hanging against the ropes, the team failed to build any momentum for a late season playoff push as they dropped the first game of this set to the St Louis Blues by a score of 4-3 on Wednesday, before losing 3-2 in overtime to the Golden Knights on Sunday.
With that, let’s take a look at 1 pro and 1 con, as well as a concluding thought before the Canucks are at it again against the Golden Knights on Wednesday in the Sin City.
Pro: Podkolzin giving reasons for optimism
With the success the Canucks have had with rookie players over the last few years, with Brock Boeser, Quinn Hughes, and Elias Pettersson being prime examples, the bar was certainly set quite high as far as the expectations from Vasily Podkolzin were concerned.
While Podkolzin certainly isn’t having the same level of production as the aforementioned players in his rookie season with just 10 goals and 17 points in 67 games so far, he has certainly been picking up his play as of late and is giving fans many reasons to be optimistic about how he develops down the road.
The game against Vegas on Sunday was perhaps one of Podkolzin’s best performances ever since coming into the league.
After doing a great job creating opportunities in the offensive zone, Podkolzin was given a chance to play with JT Miller and Conor Garland on the top line in the 3rd period.
In just under 15 minutes of ice time in both the Golden Knights game as well as the Blues game this past week, Podkolzin finished with a rating of +1, while putting up a combined total of 3 hits as well as 2 shots registered on goal.
With the Abbotsford Canucks clinching a playoff spot this past weekend and with Podkolzin papered down and eligible to help the AHL squad in the postseason, it will be very exciting to see how the 20-year-old takes advantage of this incredible opportunity and refines his game heading into next season.
Con: The enigma of the team’s slow-starts
Ever since Bruce Boudreau took over in December, there have been many positives and bright spots for this Canucks team. However, one thing that has been an ongoing trend ever since then and perhaps the biggest achilles heel of the Canucks besides the penalty killing this season, has been the team’s tendency to start games on the wrong foot rather quite often.
The Canucks have the fewest goals scored in the first period in the whole league this season, sitting at just 43 tallies in the opening frame.
In a nutshell, it goes without saying that the Canucks always leave all the pressure to Thatcher Demko to make sure that the game is within reach until the team can finally find its legs, which often doesn’t happen until the start of the 2nd period.
As a matter of fact, after Sunday’s loss against the Golden Knights, even Boudreau emphasized how he can’t understand what the issue is with this team when it comes down to starting games on the right track and being ready as soon as the puck drops.
Ultimately, when all is said and done, there is no denying the fact that this issue likely can’t be fixed internally and perhaps the only solution is changing the on-ice personnel and adding speed to the team, which is something that Jimmy Rutherford and Patrik Allvin have constantly emphasized as a priority as far as what needs to be done with this roster in the summer.
Concluding thought: What impact would Kyle Burroughs have in his return to the lineup?
Without a shadow of a doubt, before Kyle Burroughs went down with an upper body injury on February 19, he had somewhat become the lightning rod for this Canucks team and certainly a fan-favorite.
Being a local player who has a tendency to get the team, as well as the crowd, going with an occasional fight or a big hit, fans have certainly missed Burroughs in the lineup ever since he was injured on a stiff hit by Nicholas Deslauries against the Anaheim Ducks 45 days ago.
As such, with Tucker Poolman back on IR and with Quinn Hughes likely not playing tomorrow due to illness, Kyle Burroughs will likely draw back in on the 3rd pairing with new defensive partner Travis Dermott.
It will be very interesting to see what kind of a performance the Langley native puts up in his return to the lineup, as the Canucks look to get their first ever regular season regulation victory against the Golden Knights on Wednesday night.