It’s felt like an eternity since the Vancouver Canucks had a week off, but this one is definitely worth it as the team is still battling tooth and nail to get back into the playoff picture.
Having played the most games of any team in the National Hockey League since the jump of the 2021 season, the Canucks have become worn out, overtired and in need of plenty of rest. The growing list of injuries being proof of that, along with Vancouver’s latest losing streak of three games — being heavily outscored 14-5.
After taking a slapshot to the foot and not returning, Bo Horvat actually played the following game but had just a shade over 15 minutes of ice time — an unusual low for the captain. It’s likely he’s playing through pain, so having a week to kick his feet up could go a long way when his team is set to return to game action.
Canucks’ centres have gone down faster than the Titanic. If it wasn’t for J.T. Miller‘s seamless ability to transfer his game to the centre position, the Canucks would be in grave danger of falling off a cliff in the playoff race.
Next to the less than 100% healthy Horvat, both Brandon Sutter and Jay Beagle — two veteran centres — have been sidelined with injuries as well. And of course, star forward Elias Pettersson hasn’t played since March 2nd. According to head coach Travis Green, it’s not expected that he’ll be ready to play even after the team’s bye-week.3
The Canucks are keeping things tight-lipped on the injury front, but it’s also important to note that Thatcher Demko‘s tremendous play in goal this season has catapulted his starts sky high, seeing many more games at the NHL level than ever before.
Giving the 25-year-old the week off should help ease his mind, let him refocus and dial in his reflexes. The cat-like netminder has been the sole reason Vancouver is still alive in the playoff race, and he’ll need to continue to be the Canucks first star if Vancouver is to have a sniff of the post-season.
With 19 games remaining and only two back-to-backs within that span, Demko will likely see the net until either Vancouver is mathematically eliminated from making the playoffs or until they lock down a spot in the North division. Braden Holtby hasn’t lived up to his $4.3 million annual cap hit, and Demko has solidified himself as the Canucks true No. 1 goalie.
Hopefully, by the time the puck drops against the Calgary Flames on Wednesday night, the Canucks are recharged, fully healthy and ready for the fight of their lives. It’s the only way they’ll be able to survive.
The Canucks will return to action with a record of 16-18-3.