Vancouver Canucks head coach Bruce Boudreau said a mouthful after practice on Sunday, likening the NHL playoff chase to a baseball pennant race, and talking about how tough it can be to put win streaks together and catch up.
“Especially when you’re fighting from behind, like we’ve been since the start of the year,” Boudreau said. “That’s why you want to get ahead so you have that little cushion when you do have a bad streak. We have no cushion right now so we can’t afford a bad streak.”
The somewhat desperate position impacts Vancouver personnel decisions long term and short. In the case of practice Sunday, J.T. Miller was moved back to centre in case the team decides to go that route. Part of the opportunity arose out of the fact Elias Pettersson sat out practice for a maintenance day.
With their 3-0 loss to the Minnesota Wild on Saturday night the Canucks stand at 12-13-and-3 on the season, three points behind the second wild card spot in the NHL’s Western Conference. That spot is presently occupied by the Wild who have a game in hand on the Canucks.
The Canucks will take Monday off, practice Tuesday and travel to Calgary for a Wednesday night date with the Flames.
Speaking of skating, happy to see Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Kris Letang doing just that after missing just five games following the second mild stroke of his career. He led the Penguins in ice time Saturday evening (22:14) in the team’s 3-1 victory over the Buffalo Sabres.
Letang’s first stroke occurred back in January of 2014. He recovered and has gone on to play 500-plus regular season and 69 playoff games and win two Stanley Cups since then.
His second stroke happened November 28th after a full practice. Reoccurring migraine headaches led to a trip to the hospital and the diagnosis. He returned this weekend with a vengeance.
“”I’m lucky to have the staff we have,” Letang stated late last week. “I know I’m in good hands. I’ve been lucky that these things resolve on their own, can go back to a normal life. People know me well by now. They know that hockey is a passion for me. It’s something that is going to take a lot to drag me out of it.”
The 2005 3rd-round pick of PIttsburgh is closing in on 1,000 career NHL games and should hit the mark before the end of the season. He’s at 963.
The start times have been set for the 2023 World Junior Championship in Nova Scotia, with Team Canada playing in Group A in Halifax.
Canada, the defending champs, open on Boxing Day at 3:30 pm pacific against Czechia.
On December 28th, Canada plays once again at 3:30, this time against Germany. We’ll list other start times as the games get closer.
Enjoy the Hockey Action !!