Canucks: Difficult roster decisions ahead of play-in series

A competitive and very hungry group of players for the Vancouver Canucks are making final roster decisions very difficult for head coach Travis Green.

Hockey is just days away from a comeback and Travis Green will have some difficult decisions to make in regards to who exactly will be lacing up the skates for the Vancouver Canucks.

The majority of the line up is more or less set in stone, but when it comes to the final touches of a playoff-perfect squad, there are a couple of players in training camp who have been putting together quite the case for themselves.

In a perfect world, everyone would get the opportunity to play, but this time around the stakes are just too high. Jumping directly into playoffs Green won’t have time to give players a warmup game, so the importance of being ready right now has never been stronger.

It looks like Zack MacEwen got the memo. Of all people, the “Big Fella” has stood out (so far) as the hungriest Canuck with something to prove. At this point in Phase 3, his physical style of play can no longer be ignored.

He’s been lights out for the first 10 days of training camp. He’s registered goals in nearly every scrimmage game, nice ones too! The 24-year-old has been a force of nature along the boards, never backing down from a challenge. He’s put Jake Virtanen on notice setting a big reminder that his roster spot is very much up for grabs.

He’s not the only player who’s scratching and clawing their way up the depth chart, either. Micheal Ferland is turning heads at camp and putting the pressure on the Canucks’ head coach to make a big roster change.

Given his concussion history, a bit of a slower, more steady approach in his return-to-play was cautioned, but with a goal already registered and big hits being delivered at every turn, all signs remain positive as he keeps gaining pace with each passing practice.

Playoff hockey can get rough and tough in a hurry — adding guys like MacEwen and Ferland is a great way to bring some extra punch to the bottom-six, but it forces Green to remove an important special teams penalty-killer.

So what is more important in the playoffs: A trifecta of physical dominance between Ferland, Virtanen, and MacEwen? Or a dynamic combination of veteran faceoff experts and penalty killers like Jay Beagle, Brandon Sutter, and Loui Eriksson? Maybe even a good mix of both?

Next: Canucks training camp: Juolevi, MacEwen, Markstrom

Either way, anticipation looms darkly over Green’s final lineup choices. Whatever he decides, it’ll be a huge decision for not only himself but for the Canucks’ playoff chances as well. What would you decide?

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