Kraken Donato, Canucks Miller

Simmer’s Sunday 9; Canucks Reality, Kraken Crunch, Canada Crushes

The Kraken and the Canucks, Pacific Division neighbours, came out of the long NHL All-Star / bye week break with different concerns. While Seattle will have to battle just to get into a playoff position in the Western Conference, Vancouver will be more concerned with keeping their game in good shape, if not improving it, while attempting to hold on to home ice throughout the postseason.

The Kraken’s situation is more urgent obviously, because not accomplishing their task means going on summer vacation in April. The Canucks know already they’ll be in the big dance and can concern themselves with seeding.

1) The Philadelphia Flyers were the better team in the 1st and 3rd periods of their 3-2 victory over the Kraken on Saturday evening. Not surprising, at least the first part of that, considering Philly already had two games under their belt since the All-Star weekend in Toronto. They’ve won three in a row since the break.

Cut Seattle some slack coming back from a ten-day break?

OK, fine. Guess what; next up is back-to-back nights against the New Jersey Devils and New York Islanders on Monday and Tuesday. After a day off they play the Bruins in Boston on Thursday.

This playoff fate might be determined sooner than later.

2) The Canucks played the second of back-to-back games out east ahead of the Super Bowl on Sunday and beat the Washington Capitals in overtime 3-2. That, after losing in OT in Detroit on Saturday to the Red Wings 4-3.

J.T. Miller scored with just five seconds remaining in the extra session off a horrendous turnover by Capitals forward Connor McMichael.

The Canucks are now 2-1-and-1 on their five-game road trip with just a Tuesday match in Chicago against the Blackhawks remaining.

3) Alexander Ovechkin scored a goal for the fifth consecutive game on Sunday and now has 13 on the season. I’m pulling for him to pass Gretzky for the all-time goals record, especially since I predicted he’d get to 900 six years ago on SiriusXM and everyone in the studio looked at me like I had three eyeballs.

I especially want to be right about this prediction because of my respect for his work ethic, his talent, and his great personality. I’ve seen the dude committed to some remarkable charitable efforts that flew completely under the radar.

Physically, Ovie is a machine, a beast, and although his totals are off this year, he should pass Gretzky (894) after two more seasons. He’ll play as long as he has to and by the time this season ends he should be within 60 goals of 900.

It’s always a delight to speak with the “Great 8”.

4) “Patience is a virtue” has never rang more true than with Canucks forward Nils Höglander, the 23-year-old Swedish winger who already set his career high in goals this season. He scored his 16th against the Caps.

“Hoagie” is on pace to also break his career mark for points and penalty minutes.

This is not to suggest the club was prepared to give up on him, but in desperate times, particularly during the latter stages of former GM Jim Benning’s tenure, Höglander’s name came up in trade chatter.

While still learning, his grasp of the 200-foot game has finally come around as has his ability to finish around the net.

5) The “Rivalry Series” between the US and Canadian women’s national teams came to a climactic conclusion on Sunday in St. Paul, Minnesota with Team Canada spanking Team USA 6-1 in Game-7. The Canadians won the last four games of the series to take it.

Having lost 3-1, 5-2, and 3-2 in the first three games, the Canadians regrouped to win the next three matches 3-2, 4-2 and 3-0 to set-up the deciding game. This rivalry will get the most eyeballs when the 2026 Winter Olympics roll around in Italy.

6) Trivia Spot: Who’s the all-time leading scorer in Seattle Kraken and Vancouver Canucks history? (Answer at bottom of this list)

7) Get your plane and game tickets now. Just a reminder, the 2024 IIHF World Championship begins May 10th in Prague and Ostrava, Czechia. It’s a great country, a cultural experience, and a delightfully entertaining 16-team tournament.

A visit to Prague is unforgettable.

8) Canucks D-man Nikita Zadorov was suspended two games for his hit to the head of Red Wings forward Lucas Raymond on Saturday. Here’s the story and the official NHL Department of Player Safety video.

Zadorov was replaced by Mark Friedman in the Sunday matinee line-up against Washington.

9) While Ryan Donato is the only player to wear number-9 for the Seattle Kraken, the Canucks have had 21 different players don the sweater. Winger Don Lever wore it the most, 593 games, from 1974 to 1980. Tony Tanti was a close second (531). Tanti has the highest point total for a Canucks number-9 (470), with current wearer Miller closing fast.

— Trivia Answer: The all-time leading scorer for the Kraken is Jared McCann (156). Henrik Sedin tops the record book for the Canucks with 1,070 points, 29 more than his brother Daniel.

Recent Canucks:

— Canucks Tocchet Gives Club’s All-Star Break Analysis

— Canucks NHL Podcast; Simmer and Gabby 11

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.