Monday November 21 - Vegas Golden Knights 5 - Vancouver Canucks 4
Wednesday November 23 - Vancouver Canucks at Colorado Avalanche - 7 p.m. ET - Sportsnet Pacific
Apparently the Canucks' multi-goal lead problem this season really is unprecedented. Check out these numbers:
It really is an unlikely set of circumstances: good enough to score enough to get those leads, but bad enough to implode as soon as the opposition starts to apply some pressure.
Somehow, on Monday, I actually thought they were going to be able to hang on when they scored three times in the first 6:11 of the third period to go up 4-2 on Vegas. Of course, the air started to leak out of that balloon of optimism less than a minute later. The biggest slowdown on the Golden Knights' journey to a 5-4 regulation win was the long video review that wiped a Vegas goal off the board because the puck hit a camera lens that was poking through a hole in the plexiglass, which renders it out of play.
After the game, Luke Schenn talked about how the Canucks keep finding themselves in these situations because they aren't defending hard enough, and that's fair. Vegas coach Bruce Cassidy also talked about how opposing teams are well aware of this tendency. On top of the fact that the Golden Knights are a good team with a hunger to win, they also knew that the Canucks would likely implode if they applied enough pressure.
So now, the whole scenario is snowballing on itself, becoming a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy.
But I do want to take a moment to shout out Elias Pettersson for his glorious empty-net save in the dying seconds. It's a shame that his terrific season is being underappreciated because of the team's overall struggles.
Though the cameras caught a presumably frustrated Jim Rutherford on his way out of the GM's box on Monday night, everything remains status quo for now. And it seems like the chatter among the league's insiders has shifted, that the club is now not in a rush to make any moves.
I always find it amusing that there's trade chatter every day around the NHL, but actual deals are so rare, especially in-season.
...and after writing this, I check Twitter and learn that two deals have gone down on Wednesday, ahead of all-important U.S. Thanksgiving.
Assuming I'm not being duped by fake verified accounts, it looks like the New York Rangers have dealt Ryan Reaves to the Minnesota Wild, and the banged-up Maple Leafs have picked up oft-injured defenseman Conor Timmins from the Arizona Coyotes. To his credit, Elliotte Friedman was hinting about the possibility of Timmins to the Leafs on Monday's '32 Thoughts' podcast. So sometimes those Insider rumours do come to pass.
Even with these new deals added to the list, the Canucks have been as active than any other team. According to CapFriendly
, there have been eight trades since the 2022-23 season kicked off with the NHL Global Series games in Europe — while the preseason was still happening here in North America.
The Canucks and the Chicago Blackhawks have each been in on three transactions, including the Oct. 7 deal between the two sides that saw Jason Dickinson and Riley Stillman trade places.
Vancouver, of course, also brought in Jack Studnicka and Ethan Bear in late October, in trades with Boston and Carolina, respectively.
Studnicka played seven games in a Canucks uniform and tallied a goal and an assist before suffering an injury that has kept him out of action for the last three games.
Bear also has a goal and an assist, in 10 games played, and is averaging 18:52 a game on an ever-changing back end. On Monday, he played 16:09 against Vegas, the lowest number of his tenure in Vancouver to date.
As for Riley Stillman, he has quickly become the latest whipping boy for the Vancouver fanbase. He has played 11 games, with one assist, and is averaging 14:26 a game — but has been over the 17-minute mark in the last two games. He's also a minus-7, which is the worst of the Canucks defensemen this year in that category.
I think he takes additional heat because he's seen to be blocking Kyle Burroughs and Jack Rathbone from getting into the lineup, and because Dickinson has seemed like a different player since arriving in Chicago. He was scratched for two games a couple of weeks ago but still sits at 4-4-8 in 14 games played with the Blackhawks, averaging a solid 15:25 of ice time a game.
Last year, he managed 11 points in 62 games with the Canucks, playing 13:03 — and apparently played a good chunk of the season with a broken thumb that went undiagnosed — which is just weird.
As for Wednesday's game, here's how the Canucks' lines rolled at the morning skate:
Nils Hoglander gets a first-line opportunity, and it looks like Vasily Podkolzin might be on his way back to the press box.
As for the Avs, they're not as deep as they were last year, and they have been bitten pretty hard by the injury bug in the early going this season. Here's how they're projected to go on Wednesday:
On the blue line, Sam Girard is projected to return after missing six games with a lower-body injury, and 2021 first-rounder Oskar Olausson is set to make his NHL debut after putting up 4-4-8 in 16 games with the AHL Colorado Eagles so far this season. Still on the injured list: Gabriel Landeskog, Valeri Nichushkin and Bowen Byram.
All things considered, the Avs are playing solid hockey this season, with no significant evidence of a Stanley Cup hangover. They're 11-5-1 and currently riding a three-game win streak after taking down their Central Division rivals from Dallas in a shootout on Monday.
Pavel Francouz looks set to get the start in net. He hasn't played much this year, but his last two games were both wins over the Carolina Hurricanes: 4-1 on home ice on Nov. 12 and 3-2 in overtime in Raleigh five days later. This will be just the second start of his career against Vancouver.
And even though they're playing in the Mountain Time Zone, the Canucks will be on your television at their usual time tonight. Puck drop is set for 7 p.m. PT on a busy night of NHL action, with no games scheduled for Thanksgiving Thursday.
Enjoy the game!