Vancouver Canucks: Week 9 Preview, Predictions
The Vancouver Canucks won two of three games last week, including the rematch against the Toronto Maple Leafs. This week they start a five-game road trip.
On paper, the Vancouver Canucks played three games last week. Those who watched the games, though, know that Vancouver only really showed up for two of them.
Sandwiched between two wins, against the Minnesota Wild and the Toronto Maple Leafs, was an unfortunate game against the Anaheim Ducks.
In that game, the Canucks failed to register a shot on goal until over nine minutes into the first period. Although Ryan Miller held them off for over twenty minutes, the Ducks eventually got the lead and coasted through the game.
However, on either side of that game were two solid efforts.
Then Saturday, Vancouver got the last laugh in the rematch against Toronto.
Critics may point to both the wins and lament that the Canucks surrendered multiple-goal leads in both those games. They may also point out that Miller stole the game against the Leafs.
All this is true. But given how low expectations were for the team this season, and given how often the Canucks gave up the first goal earlier this season, we shouldn’t nitpick. Given the choice between trailing and giving up a lead, pick the latter.
Besides, in the NHL the team that scores the first goal is an overwhelming favorite to win. Between the late-game comebacks and leads that they’ve given back, the Canucks seemed determined to wreck that average this year.
A recipe for long-term success? Probably not. But darn, is it fun to watch.
Let’s preview the games this week:
Tuesday, Dec. 6: Canucks @ New Jersey Devils
The Cory Schneider trade looks a lot a different today than it did at the time.
In 2013, Schneider looked poised to become an elite goaltender for the Vancouver Canucks. Problem was, they still had Roberto Luongo signed to a massive contract which they could not trade.
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At the time, it looked like the Devils had pulled off a major coup. Schneider looked like he was the next great goaltender in the league. And what did the Canucks get in exchange? A player who projected to be a reasonably good middle-six, two-way center.
Three years later, the story has changed. While Schneider is every bit the goaltender he was expected to be, Horvat continues to shatter his own ceiling.
We keep trying to find the limit to Horvat’s success — and so far we’re still looking.
The Canucks played the Devils twice last year, and lost two one goal games last year. Both of these teams are a mess. The Canucks have showed some offensive flair lately, but the Devils have Taylor Hall back. This will be a close, low scoring game that Schneider will win.
The Devils may have a Vezina caliber goalie, but the Canucks manage to get one in. New Jersey, on the other hand, struggles to get past Miller. Or Markstrom. Whoever.
They have a Vezina-caliber goalie and the Canucks can’t score. Easy loss.
First, who knows if the Devils will start Schneider or backup Keith Kinkaid? Second, the Devils appear to be exactly the same team that the Canucks are. This is a game they can win.
Thursday, Dec. 8: Tampa Bay Lightning
Does the universe just hate Steven Stamkos?
Then, after re-signing with the Tampa Lighting — possibly leaving $2-3 Million on the table in the process – he promptly tore the meniscus in his knee early on in this season. He will out for months.
Guy just can’t catch a break.
Yet, even without him, the Tampa Bay Lighting are still formidable. They have a powerful goaltending duo in Ben Bishop and Andrei Vasilevskiy. Victor Hedman is one of the best two-way defenseman in the business. And Nikita Kucherov is scoring over a point-per-game.
Still, it has been a tough stretch for the Lightning, as they have won only once in their last six games.
After losing to the Carolina Hurricanes on Sunday, they will have three days of rest before taking on the Canucks at home.
Why not? Tampa is much better, despite the loss of Stamkos. But, the Canucks will continue to tease with great, sloppy wins against better teams.
At this point, the Lightning are simply a much stronger team. Plus, the Canucks like alternating wins and losses.
They’re faster than…the speed of lightning. Doesn’t bode well for a slower Canucks team
Too much scoring talent, and too mobile a defense corps for the Canucks to handle.
Saturday, Dec. 10: Canucks @ Florida Panthers
Erik Gudbranson will face the Florida Panthers for the first time since they traded him in the offseason.
Gudbranson was regarded by many as being the future captain for Florida. Instead, the captaincy now belongs to Derek McKenzie.
But trading away Gudbranson isn’t the most controversial move the Panthers have made lately. No, that would be firing coach Gerard Gallant minutes after a game against the Carolina Hurricanes.
Gallant, by all accounts, was beloved by his players. But he had a fundamental disagreement with Florida’s management team on how the roster should be contructed. The Panthers have not played terribly this season, but they are nowhere near last season’s 103-point pace.
So the Panthers left Gallant standing on the side of the road.
Current general manager Tom Rowe has taken over coaching duties. So far, the Panthers are 1-2 under Rowe.
Just because I like the symmetry of starting and ending the week with losses to former franchise goalies.
Roberto allows two goals against, but that’s not enough for a win. Florida has a strong offensive group the Canucks can’t quite handle.
Just because Roberto Luongo has to lose to his former team. It’s a rule.