The Vancouver Canucks have an extremely difficult start to their season with a brutal October schedule, but it promises to test younger players can deal with adversity early in the season.
The expectations for the Vancouver Canucks were extremely low last season, but they managed to escape the month of October with a solid 6-3-2 record, highlighted by a 6-2 victory over the eventual Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals.
Now, the Canucks aren’t expected to be a playoff team in 2018-19, but many expect some form of progress. Bo Horvat and Brock Boeser are the new dynamic duo in town, hopefully for a full season. Rookie Elias Pettersson is a candidate for the Calder Trophy. Perhaps Jake Virtanen and Nikolay Goldobin enjoy breakout years, too.
Well, the Canucks need every bit of production they can get from these young players. The Sedins aren’t here to lead them through grinding road trips early in the season anymore. Maybe this is why general manager Jim Benning signed the likes of Jay Beagle and Antoine Roussel.
That is, to provide the much-needed grit and muscle for the young players as they try to develop their games at the professional level.
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Vancouver opens up it’s season on Oct. 3 at Rogers Arena, against the rival Calgary Flames. Sure, the Canucks have won their last four season openers and all. If you are a fan of history, then you’ll like Vancouver’s chances of starting out 1-0-0.
But things get a lot tougher after the season opener. Horvat, Boeser and co. will lead this team on a grueling six-game road trip, beginning on Oct. 6 in Calgary. It’s hard enough winning both games of a home-and-home, but it gets much more difficult once they leave Alberta.
The Canucks have to visit the Carolina Hurricanes, a team that they never seem to beat on the road.
Following that is a visit against the Tampa Bay Lightning, who are only the team to beat in the Eastern Conference after falling one game shy of the Stanley Cup Final.
The Canucks wrap up their trip in the Sunshine State with a game against the Florida Panthers, where former franchise icon Roberto Luongo plays now. Don’t think it gets easier after that, though.
They visit the Pittsburgh Penguins and Winnipeg Jets, two bonafide Stanley Cup contenders. At least Vancouver swept the season series vs. the Pens last season. Spoiler alert: Boeser loves playing the Penguins.
After spending almost three weeks on the road, the Canucks have to host the Boston Bruins on Oct. 20, before welcoming the Stanley Cup champion Capitals on Oct. 22. So yeah, Vancouver plays just about every legitimate Eastern Conference contender in 11 days. Last time I checked, that’s not very good.
The Canucks then visit the defending Western Conference champion Vegas Golden Knights on Oct. 24, and their short road trip ends the following day with a contest against the Arizona Coyotes. Remember how much Vegas dominated Vancouver last season? You know, going 4-0-0 and all.
October will end with their final regular season contest against the Penguins on Oct. 27, followed by games against the Minnesota Wild and Chicago Blackhawks. Not exactly the easiest way to close out the first month of your season.
The good news for the Canucks is they get a handful of games vs. the top teams out of the way early. No, you can’t make the playoffs in October, but you can definitely fall out of the race after one horrible month. Just ask last season’s Edmonton Oilers, and they own the world’s greatest hockey player.