If you’re a Vancouver Canucks’ fan, mark down Groundhogs Day 2020 on your calendar. Surprisingly, the Canucks are two points ahead of the Edmonton Oilers in a tight Pacific Division race. It has to be a surprise that this team has emerged this season as a playoff contender. But, can the Canucks stay in the playoff picture? Time will tell.
In this post, I want to outline the news and rumors emerging from the team as well as outline some of the success specific players are enjoying.
Good Reason to Hope for Canucks’ Fans
This Canuck team has both young stars and experienced leaders. Elias Pettersson, Brock Boeser, and Quinn Hughes are growing stronger. In this season’s new addition J.T. Miller, the team has a point-a-game player. This season’s new-captain Bo Horvat is a faceoff demon, who seems to be a strong leader.
The defense is solid with Alex Edler, Tyler Myers, and Chris Tanev; and, Quinn Hughes has great talent and is developing on-ice leadership. The team has two strong goalies in Jacob Markstrom and Thatcher Demko. The team’s secondary scoring is strong with Tanner Pearson, the emerging Jake Virtanen, and Adam Gaudette.
Canucks’ Player News
Item One: Tim Schaller Scores for the First Time in 35 Games
Talk about a goal-scoring drought. Tim Schaller had gone 35 games without scoring a goal, but he ended that lengthy drought in Saturday’s 4-3 overtime win against the New York Islanders. It was his first goal since scoring four goals in three games around Halloween 2019. For the season, he’s scored five goals and an assist in 46 games.
Item Two: Micheal Ferland Will Seek Conditioning by Playing in the AHL
One of the biggest Canucks’ disappointments this season has been that newly-acquired Micheal Ferland hasn’t been able to stay on the ice. The “reckless abandon” he plays with often leads to injury because he plays bigger than his body, but he’s never missed as many games during a season as he has in 2019-20.
So, it’s good news that he’s now headed to the Utica Comets in the AHL on a conditioning stint. Ferland’s upper-body injury has finally responded to treatment. The rumor is that he’ll play a small number of games before he returns to the Canucks. I’m hoping he can stay in the lineup for a time. If he can, that gives the team a level of physicality that would benefit the play – especially with Tyler Motte now out of the lineup.
Ferland hasn’t played in a game since Dec. 10. Sadly, even then he only played two games after missing a month. Currently, he’s been out for almost two months. During his short time with the team, Ferland’s scored only five points in 14 games. But, as his fans know well, he can be a force on the ice when he’s healthy.
Item Three: Tyler Motte Placed on Injury Reserve
Sadly, the team’s hitting machine named Tyler Motte has been placed on the injured reserve with an upper-body injury. The Canucks returned Motte to Vancouver from the road trip where he went further evaluation to set a sense of the timetable for his recovery. That timeline was set at between 4-6 weeks. The team will miss the 24-year-old wrecking ball. With Motte gone, Tim Schaller has jumped into the lineup.
Item Four: J.T. Miller’s at a Point-a-Game Pace
Part of the reason the Canucks’ record since Dec. 19 is 14-3-0 is that J.T. Miller has emerged as an on-ice leader. He’s obviously enjoying playing with the Canucks. Although he’s never been close to a point-a-game pace before, it’s no longer a surprise he hits the score sheet regularly this season. He now has scored in five straight games and has had three straight multi-point games in that span. The 26-year-old winger now has 20 goals and 52 points in 52 games for the season.
Item Five: Will Quinn Hughes Win the Calder Trophy
Last season, Elias Pettersson won the Calder Trophy, and this season Quinn Hughes seems to have a chance as well. In the Islanders game, he scored two goals. One was a shot that completely fooled Islanders’ goalie Thomas Greiss. That goals was Hughes’ eighth of the season and was the game-winner.
Hughes’ recent scoring – five goals and 11 points in his last 13 games has pushed his season’s totals to 38 points (eight goals, 30 assists) in 51 games. He now is the leading scorer among NHL rookies.
Item Six: Jacob Markstrom Wins Yet Again
Against the Islanders, Markstrom stopped 34 shots in a busy game (the Canucks give up too many shots on goal). Markstrom’s record 11-2-0 over his last 13 starts with a goals-against-average of 2.70 GAA and a .917 save percentage. He’s had a strong January, and it’s helped that he’s had strong offensive support.
Good News for the 2019-20 Canucks
Although other teams have stronger rosters – especially the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Washington Capitals – the Canucks are more than holding their own in the Pacific Division.
The Canucks are a team that’s playing well together and are currently on a successful road trip. Should they continue to win, they will have a strong chance of making the playoffs.
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