After playing 10 of their 13 December games at Rogers Arena, the Vancouver Canucks will spend most of January on a grueling seven-game road trip.
The Vancouver Canucks have played up-and-down hockey in the month of January over the past few seasons, but they’re going to have to find a way to play their best in the opening month of 2018.
As mentioned above, the Canucks will be spending most of their Christmas holidays at Rogers Arena in December, where 10 of their 13 games will take place. But in January, the Canucks will have just four home games against seven away matchups.
And the month of January could very well make-or-break Vancouver’s hopeful push to the playoffs. In Jan. 2017, they went a respectable 6-3-3. Then the wheels (and their playoff hopes), came off in February.
More from The Canuck Way
- Which team won the Bo Horvat trade?
- What to expect from newcomers Anthony Beauvillier, Aatu Räty
- Back to the future: How the skate uniforms became a regular Canucks’ feature night
- Canucks kick off 2023 with disappointing 6-2 loss to Islanders
- 2nd period penalty trouble sinks Canucks in 4-2 loss against Winnipeg
In Jan. 2016, the Canucks went 6-4-2, then the same story: They fell apart in February and sunk to the 28th spot in the NHL standings.
Jan. 2015 was fine for the Canucks, who would go on to make the postseason. But Jan. 2014 was real ugly, as the Canucks went just 4-9-2.
That was basically it for John Tortorella and the Canucks, who missed the postseason for the first time in six years.
So the point stands that January seems to be the season where the Canucks season is defined. That means this brutal seven-game road trip could very well determine how they finish out 2017-18.
On the road again
The Canucks’ first home game of the new year will take place on Jan. 2 against the Anaheim Ducks. It would be nice to escape with a W there, because the real game begins on Jan .6, when they visit Auston Matthews and the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Toronto has won four consecutive home games against Vancouver, so this isn’t the best of places for Vancouver to start the lengthy trip. After that, they visit the Montreal Canadiens — who have also won their last four home matchups vs. the Canucks. Vancouver has just one victory at the Bell Centre in its last eight visits. Gulp.
Not trying to scare you, but it gets even scarier. Vancouver then visits the defending Presidents’ Trophy champion Washington Capitals, then the Columbus Blue Jackets. Then the Minnesota Wild, followed by the Edmonton Oilers and the Winnipeg Jets.
Is it possible for a road trip to be that much more brutal? The Canucks youngsters will really have their work cut out for them here.
The Canucks will then return home on Jan. 23 against the Los Angeles Kings — their first home game in 21 days. The big and physical Kings aren’t exactly the most ideal of opponents for the Canucks, but Los Angeles could be fatigued as they’ll be playing their fourth game in six nights.
After the Kings, Vancouver will welcome the Buffalo Sabres before closing out the month with a home match against the Colorado Avalanche. On paper, those do look like a pair of more easy-going matchups for the Canucks.
On the bright side, the Canucks do get their tough Eastern Conference opponents out of the way in January. But if they can’t find a way to escape that road trip with at least seven of the available 14 points, it could lead to the final dagger in their playoff aspirations for 2018.