The Vancouver Canucks trying to do the right thing.
Can the Vancouver Canucks pull it off? Now that is a different question.
There have been discussions around the city on whether Saturday’s 4-1 loss to the Calgary Flames was the game that ended all hopes of the playoffs. Well, there still are 30 games left in the season — that is just a dozen games removed from the midseason mark and 36.6 percent of the schedule still ahead of the Canucks.
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Folks, there still is hope. Dan Hamhuis has barely played half an hour’s worth of NHL hockey since he got sidelined for some three months. Brendan Sutter has yet played just 45 minutes of game action since his return. The chemistry is nowhere it should be. The team is just going to get better.
My logic is this. Vrbata and Alex Burrows are not going to get any worse. Sutter and Hamhuis are going to get better, and the Canucks can rest one of Alex Biega or Matt Bartkowski on any given night and use them as matchups seem fit. Not saying that the Canucks are going to win, let alone make the playoffs. Just saying that they will get better naturally.
Here are some Canucks tidbits for today, February 9th, 2016.
Vancouver will try to reunite the Kids and put the product of their 52-game-old youth movement to test. Tuesday’s practice featured new lines as a result of Jake Virtanen and Radim Vrbata switching spots. Bo Horvat will now play between Sven Baertschi and Virtanen, the rookie right winger.
It hurts to see Jared McCann sit out, but demoting Vrbata and pushing Virtanen up certainly sounds like a winning plan to me. Even possession wise, Virtanen is trumping Vrbata — Virtanen sits at +2.7 percent Corsi For percentage while Vrbata sits at +1.9 percent.
If Virtanen can make things happen for that new second line, I don’t see how Vrbata fits into the Canucks’ plans even in the short term. I say that if Virtanen pulls it through, Vrbata has got to go.
On that note, Jacob Markstrom will get the start. He is 4-0-1 in his last five starts, a combined .943 save percentage in those five games.
Wait. So splitting the goalie duties even after today’s game against Colorado? Would that imply that Markstrom gets the start at home against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Retro night? The last time the Canucks did that, Eddie Lack was chosen over Roberto Luongo. Lack lasted longer in Vancouver than Luongo did, though.
None of them are in Vancouver now. We should find out in a few days’ time as the Canucks did suit both goaltenders in retro gear during past practices.
By the way, the moms are coming on this two-day trip. See if that injects any life into these morbid-looking Canucks.
Thatcher Demko keeps shining
Thatcher Demko recorded his ninth shutout of the season for his NCAA Division 1 Boston College team on the way to securing the Beanpot Championship, awarded to the best college team in Boston each year.
And with that, Demko passed Cory Schneider for the all-time Boston College single-season shutout record. This season has been nothing short of spectacular for Demko.
Demko is also being nominated for the Hobey Baker Award, the honour for the top NCAA hockey player each year. He currently leads the Facebook Fan Vote with 15.9 percent, 6.6 percent clear of second place. You can cast your vote here.
The last player to win the Hobey Baker has gone on to great things. Guess who? Jack Eichel.
Not suggesting that Demko is the second coming of Eichel, but you would have to appreciate how good Demko has been this year. The all-time NCAA record for the most single-season shutouts is 12, and Demko has the last six regular season games, as well as the playoffs, to try to rewrite history.
What do you think the fate of the new lines will be, and how does Demko fit into the Canucks’ plans? Let us know in the comments below, or tweet us @FSTheCanuckWay!