The Vancouver Canucks wrapped up their three-game winning streak with a historic loss in Edmonton and got a little help from John Tortorella as well.
It’s not at all out of line to imagine Vancouver cheering in the streets on a night that could have seen the Vancouver Canucks drop as low as the eighth seed in the Auston Mathews sweepstakes. But there’s never been a better time to lose as a team, and the stakes have never been higher.
Reality has shaken Vancouver down to its core, and it’s no secret this core is ready for the change.
After going on a nine-game losing streak, most Nucks fans had settled into the idea of a last-place finish. If you’re going to miss the playoffs, it’s only natural to start grasping at ways to spin a season for the positive, and the draft is the first place to look.
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And though it may be a little “after the fact”, it’s only fitting that on the night the Canucks needed him most, John Tortorella answered the call, winning a meaningful game for Vancouver. It just so happened to be a win for another NHL franchise.
Wait a second here… how did Torts get the message? How did he know what to do? Was it a phone call from Canucks Tank Nation? I imagine the conversation went something like this:
“Jesus. Vancouver? I already got you guys a second-round pick…”
“Could ya win one for us tonight?”
“Errr that’s a tough one. Maybe? The team kinda plays to the beat of their own drum, but I’ll yell at em real good for ya”
“Well anything that’s real good is good for us over here, so we’ll go ahead and say thanks in advance. Really appreciate it.”
And like a magical gift passed down from the hockey gods themselves, Torts found a way to “go about his business,” as his Columbus Blue Jackets stomped the Toronto Maple leafs 5-1; a result that leap-frogs the Jackets out of the bottom three, throwing the Vancouver Canucks some better odds, and a new pair of dice.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the continent, the impromtu Vancouver Canucks “winning” streak came to a definitive close, swept under the rug by a wave of hype and history.
On the night they closed the doors at Rexall, the Edmonton Oilers gave their fans the ceremonial salute worthy of the occasion, winning the game 6-2. Even Connor McDavid was in on the action, scoring on the power play and ending the night with a hype-appropriate three points for the future history maker.
So what does it all mean?
Strangely, it seems like this is one of those rare occasions where everybody wins. Vancouver finds a way back into the better odds at the draft table, Edmonton gets their ceremonial reprieve and John Tortorella wins a game that may inch him closer to another shot as an NHL head coach next season.
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There’s certainly plenty of room to debate who exactly gained the most from the night’s results.
Like Vancouver, maybe Edmonton would have been satisfied taking the loss on the chin and taking the better odds at this year’s draft. There’s something to be said for winning a game, the last game at home, with the legends in the building. If there’s a time to play the “creating a winning atmosphere” card, it’s here.
As for the Canucks, they’ll take their three-win streak to the bank. From now on, they’ll withdraw all the odds they can get and stash it under the mattress til June 1st.
The winning streak was nice while it lasted, but if there was one thing to take away from tonight’s game action, it’s that there has never been a better team at losing than the 2015-2016 Canucks. Not even Tortorella’s Canucks can boast this kind of losing power.
And what of Torts, you ask?
A strong finish is certainly helping his cause. The Jackets have been more or less a .500 team since they picked up Tortorella for a second-round pick earlier in the season. Perhaps Jim Benning‘s most lopsided trade win to date.
So there you have it, Vancouver. On a night of a loss, there are three things to be thankful for: a better pair of dice, a fired coach (twice), and the history of a rival franchise.
It’s sure been a bizarre season, to say the least!