Canucks keep hope alive despite odds
Vancouver Canucks goaltender Eddie Lack (31) and defenseman Dan Hamhuis (2) celebrate a win over the Buffalo Sabres during the third period at Rogers Arena. The Vancouver Canucks won 4-2. Mar 23, 2014; Vancouver, B.C. (Photo: Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports)
The games are all must-wins now — the Vancouver Canucks know this.
When they face the Wild in Minnesota on Wednesday, they can't afford to lose. It’s the same situation the next night against the Colorado Avalanche — or, for that matter, any of the remaining games.
So where's the hope coming from? Because it certainly isn't there when it comes to a majority of the fans, media and outsiders.
"We set ourselves up to make a push at least," defenceman Kevin Bieksa said. "We're fighting to the end. These two teams are going to be tough, but we'll be ready for them and we don't know what's going to happen."
Adds goalie Eddie Lack: "We're just trying to take it day by day here. We have a lot of home games on our schedule so we have to take advantage of that and do our part."
The injuries haven't helped, of course. Centre Henrik Sedin and winger Alex Burrows won't make the two-game trip with the Canucks, just adding to the list of ailments Vancouver has suffered this season.
"It's one after the next, there's some bad luck this year," Bieksa said. "Hopefully we get some guys back and guys have to step up."
The Wild have lost three of their last 10 and sit seventh in the Western Conference.
For Vancouver, who have won two straight, Shawn Matthias will slot into the centre spot on the top line, playing alongside Daniel Sedin and Nicklas Jensen. The centre is coming off a three-point performance.
"I'm happy to fill in," Matthias said. "It's too bad that our captain is out, so it helps to step up and help out the guys and play well.
"It's an opportunity, but you have to play hard and play well."
Meanwhile, Ryan Kesler will centre a line with Chris Higgins and Jannik Hansen while Brad Richardson, Zack Kassian and David Booth will play together on the third line.