Without getting too presumptuous one way or another and so we’re not walking before we crawl, just where do we think the Vancouver Canucks will finish this season should they make the playoffs?
In other words, will they beat out the Los Angeles Kings, Calgary Flames, Vegas Golden Knights, and Edmonton Oilers for the top three spots in the Pacific Division?
Then those two Western Conference wild card spots become precious, meaning the rivalry between the Canucks and the Seattle Kraken should pick up in intensity while the Central Division teams become the others to watch. Am I confident the Canucks will finish ahead of the Anaheim Ducks and San Jose Sharks in the Pacific? Absolutely.
If not, it’s going to be another long season in the Lower Mainland.
Canucks Vs. Central
To break down the Canucks vs. the Central, we initially solicited the thoughts of Winnipeg Jets play-by-play man Paul Edmonds over the holiday weekend. He should know a thing or two about the Central Division and the wild card; his Jets and the Kraken were the two clubs that filled those slots this past spring.
As for head-to-head match-ups last season, the Canucks against the Jets was downright ugly. Vancouver lost all three head-to-head match-ups by a composite score of 16-7. Adjustments weren’t made as the carnage unfolded over a single three week period. It might have played a key part in the demise of then Canucks coach Bruce Boudreau, who was relieved of his duties ten days after the third Jets beat down, a 7-4 loss for Vancouver on the road.
((Editor’s note: New Canucks coach Rich Tocchet did not lose to the Jets last season as suggested in the video))
Not much was going right for the Canucks in late December and early January and Winnipeg took full advantage.
This season, two of the head-to-head match-ups will take place in Vancouver.
“The Winnipeg Jets have always played fairly well in Vancouver and one of the reasons is there’s always so many Jets fans there because there’s so many ex-pat Winnipeggers that live in the Lower Mainland of Vancouver and they go and support their team,” Edmonds said.
On a more tangible level, Edmonds believes the physical nature of the roster make-up played a part. Many observers have pointed out that the Canucks lacked bite and weren’t very difficult to play against.
“Same pieces in a lot of respects, good goaltending, Thatcher Demko, great young defenceman in Quinn Hughes, and Elias Pettersson is an excellent forward, they just need some protection for him, because I noticed the Winnipeg Jets would kind of key on him, and other teams across the National Hockey League would try to get him off his game.”
Pettersson missed the first game against the Jets, a 5-1 loss, due to illness. He tallied a total of two assists over the next two match-ups.
The Jets will definitely be one of the teams for the Canucks to be leery of in the wild card race. They’re projected for the middle of the pack in the Central, potentially battling the Minnesota Wild for 3rd place.
All of the head-to-head match-ups this season come well after New Year’s. The two clubs actually play one another for their final game of the regular season on April 18th. Wouldn’t it be something if a playoff berth came down to that night in Winnipeg. Stranger things have happened.
— Kraken To Canucks: Soucy On Playing With Star Hughes