Things are getting very interesting. The Vancouver Canucks have won six straight games and their latest is an impressive 6-2 win over the Dallas Stars.
In that game, they looked very good and throughout the win streak have been just that, very good. The Canucks victory song is I’m Still Standing by Elton John. Right now, that song is very appropriate. A few weeks ago, it looked like they were done. However, they are still standing better than they ever did, looking like a true survivor, feeling like a little kid.
Like John McClane in the Die Hard films, the Canucks refuse to go down without a fight. There is still a chance to make the playoffs.
However, as fellow writer Zaahid Lalani pointed out, they would have to most likely make the playoffs through the Pacific Division. The Stars and Nashville Predators are tied with 91 points for the wild card spots. The Canucks are one point behind the Vegas Golden Knights are four points behind the Los Angeles Kings who sit in third in the Pacific and they have a higher goal differential and a game in hand over them.
Oh and the Kings come to town on April 28 for the final home game of the season.
However, the Kings have an easy schedule as none of their remaining games have playoff-bound teams. With five games left, LA plays the Anaheim Ducks, Chicago Blackhawks, the Ducks again and the Seattle before they head to Vancouver in what should be an epic showdown with the Canucks. If the Kings lose to the Ducks on Tuesday and the Canucks beat the Senators, Vancouver will only be two points behind LA.
The Golden Knights have the Washington Capitals, San Jose Sharks, the Stars, the Blackhawks and the St. Louis Blues on their remaining schedule. You are going to be doing a lot of scoreboard watching if you haven’t been doing so already. The Canucks control their own destiny but they need help on the out-of-town scoreboard. For them to make the playoffs, lots of things have to go right.
But whether or not the Canucks make the playoffs or not, you have to give them props for continuing to push for this long.
After a dismal start to the season, Bruce Boudreau came in and made the Canucks fun to watch which included the seven-game “Boudreau bump” win streak. There have been ugly losses, sure. Losses against the Detroit Red Wings, New Jersey Devils and New York Islanders come to mind. But, there have been impressive wins which include a 7-1 thumping of the Calgary Flames, (ending their 10-game win streak.) the valiant 3-1 win over the Colorado Avalanche in Denver, and Monday’s 6-2 win over the Stars.
When this team has fallen flat, they would find a way to bounce back sooner or later. There were games where they started slow but pushed hard late (Often too late) and games where they gave poor efforts but followed them up with a better effort and a big win.
Elias Pettersson has started to look like a star again and he has scored three or more points in his last seven games and has already scored 29 goals which is a new career-high. Remember when he struggled to score? Feels like a long time ago.
J.T. Miller has been a beast all season and is in the top 15 of NHL scoring. Quinn Hughes has bounced back after a poor defensive season last year (While not a long-term fit, Luke Schenn has been a solid partner for him) and Oliver Ekman-Larsson has not looked bad on the blue line. Vasily Podkolzin is showing flashes of the player he can be and the Canucks are getting goals from guys who usually face a lot of criticism in Alex Chiasson and Jason Dickinson.
With Bo Horvat, Tanner Pearson, and Nils Höglander out of the lineup, Conor Garland and Brock Boeser need to step up with the offence and both got goals against Dallas.
Of course, Thatcher Demko has been a huge reason why they are still in the race as he has bailed them out countless times.
The Canucks have this mentality of making people not count them out and they have been a team that has looked exciting, quick and energetic in recent games. With six games left, they need to amp up their game to a thousand as it won’t be easy to make the playoffs.
I know I have ruled them out just over a week ago but one of the greatest things about sports is that the unexpected can happen. At this point, why not the Canucks?
Whether they make the sweet 16 or not, it’s been one rollercoaster of a ride and you can see the “why not us” mentality in them.