Dec 1, 2016; Vancouver, British Columbia, CAN; Vancouver Canucks defenseman Erik Gudbranson (44) checks Anaheim Ducks forward Ryan Kesler (17) into the crease against Vancouver Canucks goaltender Ryan Miller (30) during the second period at Rogers Arena. Mandatory Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports
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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.
Nov 22, 2015; Vancouver, British Columbia, CAN; Vancouver Canucks forward Alexandre Burrows (14) collides with New Jersey Devils goalie Cory Schneider (35) at Rogers Arena. New Jersey won 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
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.
So, on the first day of the 2013 draft, Schneider was shipped off to the New Jersey Devils. In exchange, the Devils sent their 9th overall pick, which Mike Gillis used to select Bo Horvat.
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.
Jan 9, 2016; Vancouver, British Columbia, CAN; Vancouver Canucks forward Sven Baertschi (47) shoots the puck against Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy (88) during overtime at Rogers Arena. The Lightning won in overtime 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 11, 2016; Vancouver, British Columbia, CAN; The Florida Panthers and Vancouver Canucks benches clear and fight after overtime at Rogers Arena. The Vancouver Canucks won 3-2 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports
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.