Canucks get rest for stretch run
Nashville Predators defenseman Victor Bartley (64) defends against Vancouver Canucks forward Zack Kassian (9) during the first period at Rogers Arena. Mar 19, 2014; Vancouver, B.C. (Photo: Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports)
The Vancouver Canucks got another win. Now they'll get a break.
With their next game not until Sunday, it's time to rest up for the final stretch — one that may prove futile soon enough, at least in terms of making the post-season.
There are 10 games to go for the Canucks in the regular season and just to update everyone on the situation: it still doesn't look that much brighter.
Wednesday's 2-0 victory over the Nashville Predators moved the Canucks within three points of the final playoff spot, but that's having played three more games than the Phoenix Coyotes who were in eighth prior to Thursday's schedule.
It's also four games more than the Dallas Stars, who sit in ninth and are one point up on Vancouver. The Winnipeg Jets are trailing the Canucks by one point but with a game in hand.
So while the Canucks can't afford to really lose any more games, they also need plenty of help from the out-of-town scoreboard.
The good news, for now, is that a shot at winning consecutive matches for the first time since January is rather promising. That's because the league’s worst team, the Buffalo Sabres, come to town Sunday.
The Canucks’ expansion cousins have lost seven in a row and have not scored more than two goals in a game since March 6. A familiar face sits second in scoring for the Sabres as centre Cody Hodgson has 16 goals and 35 points in 59 games. Not far behind him is former Canuck defenceman Christian Ehrhoff who has 30 points in 67 games.
Since being traded in February 2012 in a deadline deal that saw Zack Kassian coming to Vancouver, Hodgson — Canucks GM Mike Gillis’ first ever pick in the 2008 draft — has played at Rogers Arena just once and that was merely days after his move. There were a whole lot of ‘what ifs’ and speculation when it came to the 24-year-old and his days with Vancouver — with him wanting out.
But those days are behind now, and the Canucks can at least now boast a new budding youngster themselves in Nicklas Jensen. The rookie has scored three times since getting called up earlier this month, and has stood out while playing alongside Henrik Sedin and Alex Burrows.
His sweet shot Wednesday against Nashville proved the game winner and the praises continue — for what he's doing at both ends of the ice.
"For a young guy with the puck and without the puck, it's really good," head coach John Tortorella said. "He understands the other side of the puck better than I thought he would. As far as understanding the game and positioning, he's ahead of the schedule for sure."
For the big Dane, he’s just happy to play.
"The fact that the coach gives me that opportunity it's really good and I appreciate it,” Jensen said. “But at the same time you got to show up and got to show you want to be in those situations too."