The Vancouver Canucks’ playoff hopes are flashing. They’ll be playing almost exclusively at home from now until Christmas, so it’s now or never to make up ground in any postseason quest.

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After winning the last two games of their recent road tour, albeit against two poor opponents in the Montreal Canadiens and the Ottawa Senators, the Vancouver Canucks are now at home for a long period, with only two games on the road, both singles. in San José, between now and Christmas.

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Here’s a look at next week:

The history

Players still believe. Of course they do. What else are they going to do? Getting two wins this week is sure to boost your confidence, although it’s hard to ignore that the Canadians and the Senators are two of the worst teams in the league.

Overall, the Canucks have been defending better, but they aren’t creating much on offense yet. They have a chance to win most nights, but when you play balance hockey, they will rarely be the favorites, even at home. One-goal games have been shown to be the equivalent of tossing a coin, so you can go for a run, but it’s most likely an illusion in the big picture. You’ll see that those back-to-back wins are offset by a losing streak at some point.

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That said, their playoff chances are still slightly alive: HockeyViz.com says they have an 8.4 percent chance of doing the dance.

To get there, they need to run and maintain it, not just fall into a series of losses.

Opponents

After two days off to recover from their five-game road trip, the Canucks are back in action Saturday night against the Pittsburgh Penguins .

The Canucks, as you may recall, had a miserable performance in Pittsburgh last week, one of the weakest of the season.

Yet Pittsburgh has lost three games in a row and returned to the struggles that have plagued them at times this season.

Canucks defender Tyler Myers puts the wood on Boston Bruin Tomas Nosek during last Sunday's game in Boston.  The Bruins visit Rogers Arena on Wednesday.
Canucks defender Tyler Myers puts the wood on Boston Bruin Tomas Nosek during last Sunday’s game in Boston. The Bruins visit Rogers Arena on Wednesday. Photo by Michael Dwyer /The Associated Press Archives

Then on Monday, the Canucks will host the Los Angeles Kings , which got off to a surprising start but, as of this writing, has lost six of its last seven. LA hosts the Flames on Thursday night, then heads to Edmonton for a game Sunday before playing the Canucks in Vancouver one night later.

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A couple of weeks ago, this seemed like a much tougher test. The Kings have a lot of interesting young players, but Anze Kopitar is still their driving force. Oh, and this will be Alex Edler’s first time facing his old team, and the veteran defender is still looking for his 100th NHL career goal.

Then next Wednesday, the Canucks host the Boston Bruins , against whom he collapsed in the third period last Sunday in a 3-2 loss. The Bruins will come into that game relatively rested, as they don’t have a game between next Saturday, at home against Tampa Bay, and their first visit to Rogers Arena since the Canucks beat them 9-3 in February 2020.

Increasing Stock

Quinn Hughes : The Canucks’ No. 1 defender may not have a regular, reliable partner. Where are you, Travis Hamonic? – but it’s been excellent lately.

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He had defensive problems earlier in the year, but for the past month the Canucks have been dominating the game while he’s on the ice. It’s a small bright spot in what has been a dark age thus far.

Hughes is the third highest-scoring defender in the league right now, with 20 points from 23 games, behind only Adam Fox and John Carlson.

Juho Lammikko, acquired just before the season started in part to help tackle penalties, has been sent to the press box lately.
Juho Lammikko, acquired just before the season started in part to help tackle penalties, has been sent to the press box lately. Photo by Rich Lam /Getty Images Archives

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Juho Lammikko: An honorable mention goes to Elias Pettersson, who has played third-row minutes in four of his last five games. But we chose Pettersson in this space last week and he scored on Monday in Montreal. Lammikko, on the other hand, isn’t even playing, as head coach Travis Green has chosen to trade JT Miller back to center and deploy Jason Dickinson as his fourth center.

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The lanky Finn was acquired for a damaged prospect Olli Juolevi on the eve of the season and was meant to help kill penalties, but we’ve seen how badly he has gone and he has no offensive clout to speak of so at last. rafters is gone. .


NEXT GAME

Saturday

Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Vancouver Canucks

7 pm, Rogers Arena, TV: CBC, Sportsnet Pacific, Radio: Sportsnet 650


Question of the week

“Will Boeser see his ice time decreased like Pettersson has?” – Andy P., Vancouver.

It has been remarkable to see that Pettersson leaned much less than in the past, with obvious intent. It’s as much about Travis Green going with the hot hands of Miller and Horvat, also that they are so much better in head-to-head confrontations, as it is about simply trying to get Pettersson out of the spotlight and letting him find his game with less pressure on. he. .

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As for Boeser, a week ago he was on a slump. Not much was happening with him on ice. But in the last four games, he’s been creating things again.

You would still like to see more, but it is progress.

And in the end that’s what counts. It’s very much in a way of trusting the process right now. The goals must arrive; If not, now is the time to really worry.

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