A quirk in the schedule has the Winnipeg Jets in Vancouver for two straight games with the Canucks, tonight and Thursday at Rogers Arena.
It’s a big series for both teams, neither of which occupies a playoff spot. The Jets (15-16-3) have won two straight since dropping four in a row. The Canucks (13-16-3) are also undefeated in regulation in their last two, with a win and an overtime loss.
“We kinda limped into the mini-break we had there, got some rest here at home and took care of business,” Jets captain Blake Wheeler told reporters Sunday. “We had to get back on track. It was two huge games here at home, two huge games in Vancouver now and we want to go into this break feeling good about ourselves.”
The Canucks also have to play Friday in Calgary before their Christmas break starts. They’re feeling a lot better about themselves after that disastrous loss in Carolina. On Friday, they beat Tampa Bay, then on Sunday they battled back to get a point off the NHL’s hottest team, the Columbus Blue Jackets.
“We wanted to be a team in the mix and we knew we needed a lot of things to go our way,” Canucks president Trevor Linden told The Province newspaper recently. “Quite honestly, we haven’t seen that. We got on the wrong side of the injuries with our defense. Loui (Eriksson) got off to a slow start offensively and Sven (Baertschi) has struggled to score. Jannik (Hansen) missed a bunch of games. We knew we were riding that fine line. We’ll see how things play out here.”
The Canucks are still hurting on defense, with Alex Edler, Erik Gudbranson and Philip Larsen all out with various injuries. But at least Chris Tanev is back now. He provides a calming influence on the back end, something that was sorely missed in the 23 games he was forced to sit out.
Edler, meanwhile, should be back shortly after the break. He was expected to miss 4-6 weeks with a fractured finger, and that was at the end of the November.