Vancouver Canucks, Colorado Avalanche

Canucks NHL Daily: MacKinnon’s Goals, WJC Prospects

After missing almost a month of the NHL season, Colorado Avalanche superstar Nathan MacKinnon will try to get a little roll going against the Vancouver Canucks. He suffered an upper body injury on December 5th, returned to the line-up on December 31st, and has played two games since.

Before the 1st period injury in Philadelphia the beginning of last month, MacKinnon had posted 34 points in 23 games. Upon his return against the Toronto Maple Leafs on New Year’s Eve he went pointless in a 6-2 loss and then had a goal and an assist in a 3-2 setback to the Vegas Golden Knights on Monday.

He should have his legs under him when he takes on the Canucks at Rogers Arena on Thursday night.

Even without MacKinnon the Avalanche power play has done pretty well, to the tune of 25.7% on the season. That’s a bit better than when they finished 7th best in the league last season at 24%. They’ll be taking on the NHL’s worst penalty kill.

Along with captain Gabriel Landeskog, five other Colorado regulars remain out of the line-up due to injury, including one of last season’s championship goalies, Pavel Francouz.

Cranbrook native, defenceman Bowen Byram is expected back for the game against his home province Canucks.

The Avalanche have underachieved while being dinged up this season, with just 41 points in the Central Division. Expect that to change; they’re only one point back of a Western Conference wild card spot and three points out of 3rd place in their division.

WJC Prospects

Vancouver Canucks prospects, both 2022 NHL Draft picks, forward Jonathan Lekkerimaki (1st round) and defenceman Elias Pettersson (3rd round) will play for World Junior Championship Bronze on Thursday afternoon in Halifax against Team USA.

With their Swedish teammates, the two suffered a dramatic 2-1 overtime loss to Czechia in Wednesday’s first semi-final.

Pettersson had an assist on the lone Swedish goal in 19:32 of ice time, while Lekkerimaki played as the spare forward and saw just four-and-a-half minutes on ice.

Meanwhile, the Canucks 2021 5th-round pick at 137th overall, goalie Aku Koskenvuo of Team Finland, had his tourney wrap up with the loss to Sweden in the quarterfinals on Monday. He was the back-up to Jani Lampinen for that game and in two others.

Koskenvuo lost both of the tournament games he started; a 3-2 overtime setback to Switzerland in the opener and a 6-2 round robin loss to Team USA.

Jimmy Bucks

Former Canucks forward Jimmy Vesey signed a two-year contract with the New York Rangers on Wednesday, going full circle back to the NHL club that first signed him out of Harvard University in 2016. The winner of the Hobey Baker Award that year, as US collegiate hockey’s best player, skated in just twenty games for Vancouver during the 2020-’21 season, registering three assists. The contract is worth $800,000 per season.

Enjoy the Hockey Action !!

Rob Simpson

Rob Simpson has covered the NHL in five different decades. He’s authored 4 books on hockey and is a veteran TV and radio play-by-play man and reporter.