Watch out! Canucks will probably be streaking into the playoffs

1 Comment

With the 2011-12 season rapidly approaching, the gang at PHT decided to take a look at all 30 NHL teams’ schedules. Each team’s highs and lows will be studied in detail to give you an idea of what the future might hold for each squad.

Note: Mileage figures via On the Forecheck’s “Super Schedule.”

Vancouver Canucks schedule analysis

Total mileage: 46,826 (ninth highest total in NHL, but only fourth in the Northwest Division)

Back-to-back games: 11

Toughest stretches

There’s no buffer for the defending Western Conference champions this season. After starting the season against the Pittsburgh Penguins in a game that may get a little media coverage, the Canucks head out on the road for a four game road trip—a trip that includes a back-to-back against Philadelphia and Detroit.

Between November 1 – 26, the Canucks will be forced to play nine of twelve games away from home. The span opens with a six-game road trip that features a trip to Chicago and a back-to-back in southern California to finish. After three games at home, they head back on the road for three more including a back-to-back in Phoenix and San Jose.

Easiest periods

The NHL better take a bite out of the Canucks early because it’s going to be tough to slow them down at the end of the season. In the event that the Northwest Division is still up for grabs in March, the Canucks will play 13 of their last 18 games in beautiful Vancouver. Within that span of games, they’ll have a season-long seven game homestand between March 1 and March 17 when they should start racking up the points. Then again, it’s doubtful the Canucks are going to be desperate for points at the end of the season.

Overall outlook

Welcome to the Northwest Division: where a team can travel almost 47,000 miles and have fans in the division complain because almost everyone else has to travel more. Don’t be surprised if the Canucks start a little slow this season. The combination of a tough schedule through October and November and a potential Stanley Cup final hangover mean it may take some time for the Canucks to hit their stride.

Once they hit their stride, watch out. The relatively easy schedule to finish the season and six games against each of their Northwest Division rivals mean there will be ample opportunity to stockpile victories.

Lightning give Vasilevskiy the (brief) hook after very rare Jurco goal

Getty
Leave a comment

By just about any measure, Monday’s been lousy to Tampa Bay Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy.

He was pulled with a few minutes remaining in the first period after Chicago Blackhawks built a 3-1 lead, scoring those three goals on just eight shots on net.

You could summarize Vasilevskiy’s awful start by those numbers, or by how rare the 3-1 goal was for the scorer.

Tomas Jurco failed to score a goal or an assist in 16 games with the Red Wings, then went pointless in nine more games with Chicago before finally scoring his first goal of the season on Monday.

Now, Jon Cooper didn’t pull Vasilevskiy because Jurco scored that tally. Still, it rubs a little extra salt in his wounds all things considered.

Here’s the Jurco goal:

Patrick Kane‘s 2-1 goal might have hurt the most, actually, as it quickly dissolved a tying tally by Ondrej Palat:

Update: The Lightning decided to put Vasilevskiy back in net to begin the second period. Interesting.

Coach Q thinks Anisimov will be back by playoffs for Blackhawks

Getty
Leave a comment

The bad news is that Artem Anisimov seems likely to miss all – or at least most – of the regular season for the Chicago Blackhawks with his lower-body injury.

The good? Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville believes that Anisimov will be ready once the playoffs swing into motion, as the Chicago Sun-Times’ Mark Lazerus reports.

Anisimov was hurt when he got tangled up with Canadiens forward Alex Radulov on March 14:

The Blackhawks have been filling Anisimov’s typical spot alongside Patrick Kane and Artemi Panarin with Ryan Hartman and Nick Schmaltz lately. There have been flashes of brilliance with Schmaltz, but Chicago would probably feel most confident with Anisimov back in his familiar place.

Chicago’s Central lead is pretty secure over the Minnesota Wild at the moment, which likely reduces motivation to rush Anisimov back before he’s truly ready. The Blackhawks close out their regular season on April 8, so there’s still time for him to heal up.

Ducks demote Enroth, so Gibson’s close to a return

Getty
1 Comment

The Anaheim Ducks are flying high – er, waddling with some swagger? – right now thanks to Jonathan Bernier‘s somewhat shocking turnaround, but the pending return of John Gibson is promising.

(Especially since the Ducks will likely want him to shake off some rust before the playoffs begin.)

While it’s not clear if he’s exactly 100 percent healthy just yet, the Ducks sending Jhonas Enroth back to the AHL is a strong sign that Gibson is close.

Enroth actually never got a shot to start for the Ducks, as his last NHL appearance came on Nov. 30, closing off his ill-fated run with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Considering that Enroth was once a fairly hot commodity as at least a promising backup, it will be interesting to see how his 2017-18 season pans out. Will he get more or less of a chance than he received this season?

Bernier, meanwhile, is richly rewarding the Ducks for sticking with him.

He’s provided them with a Vezina-caliber March: 9-1-1, 1.71 GAA and .943 save percentage with one shutout. You almost wonder if there’s at least some potential for a goalie controversy if Gibson stumbles whenever he gets back into action … but hey, having two good goalies to choose from is better than none.

(Which was the scenario that must have scared the Ducks when Gibson got hurt in the first place.)

WATCH LIVE: Chicago Blackhawks at Tampa Bay Lightning

Getty
Leave a comment

The Tampa Bay Lightning almost certainly haven’t faced the Chicago Blackhawks in a game this important since the two teams were vying for a Stanley Cup.

While the Blackhawks have already punched their ticket to the postseason and are merely trying to pad their lead in the Central Division, the Bolts are fighting for their playoff lives. At the moment, they rank three points behind the Boston Bruins for the final spot in the East. With a game in hand, they can make up a lot of ground tonight.

With all of that in mind, it should be an entertaining contest. You can check it out on NBCSN, watch online or via the NBC Sports App.

Click here for the livestream.