Every Wednesday we take a look at The Week Ahead to see what storylines we’ll be following, because Wednesday is a day meant for looking ahead to the future. Around here we call Wednesday “Future Day” and we all wear silver jumpsuits and big bubble space helmets. Doesn’t everybody do that?
This week, the Canucks are on a road trip to Winnipeg, Washington, Sunrise, and Tampa Bay.
Wednesday, March 12th
Away vs the Winnipeg Jets
Here’s the sobering reality: the Canucks and Jets have very similar records and about the same chance of making the playoffs. That’s how bad things have gotten. Here’s the almost-good news, though: the last time the Canucks scored three goals in a game was against Ondrej Pavelec and the Jets. The bad news: the Jets scored four goals in that game, which is the last time they scored more than three goals in a game.
While Pavelec may be the cure for what ails the Canucks’ goalscoring, the Jets aren’t going to make things easy. Since hiring Paul Maurice as head coach, the Jets are 11-5-2. In that same span, the Canucks are 5-14-1. It’s almost like making a coaching change mid-season can have a significant impact on how a team performs. Almost.
Neat thing: Henrik Sedin will play his 1000th career game. He will become only the second player, after Trevor Linden, to play 1000 games for the Canucks and the first to play 1000 games only as a Canuck. He’s pretty great and we like him.
Friday, March 14th
Away vs the Washington Capitals
The Capitals bolstered their goaltending at the trade deadline, adding Jaroslav Halak, and also added Dustin Penner to their forward corps. That will make them a tougher opponent for the Canucks, who won their previous meeting this season. The Capitals have surprisingly balanced scoring behind Alex Ovechkin, with 8 players in the double digits in goals, including the newly added Penner.
The Canucks, meanwhile, have 6 players total in the double digits and their leading goalscorer, Ryan Kesler, has less than half the goals of Ovechkin. Th Canucks have no chance of overpowering the Capitals offensively, so will need to make like the Republicans and shut down Washington.
Sunday, March 16th
Away vs the Florida Panthers
Ugh, the Panthers. They’re one of the few teams less exciting than the Canucks at this point. You can basically skip this game.
Wait, the Canucks traded Roberto Luongo to the Panthers?!?! When?! Why didn’t anybody tell me?
This is basically guaranteed to be a Luongo shutout, right? Or, will Eddie Lack step up and post a shutout opposite his former mentor? Or simultaneous shutouts with a 8-round-long shootout? Given how terrible both their teams are at scoring goals, I wouldn’t be surprised.
Monday, March 17th
Away vs the Tampa Bay Lightning
We were robbed of seeing Steven Stamkos in a Team Canada jersey by a post that broke his leg, but at least we’ll get to see Stamkos light up the Canucks. I mean, unless the posts do some more robbing, that is. Stamkos had 14 goals in 19 games before suffering his injury and, while it remains to be seen if he’ll be at 100% when he returns this Thursday, I suspect he’ll pick up right where he left off.
He will be missing his primary playmaker, however, as Martin St. Louis was traded to the New York Rangers. But as long as there’s someone who can get him the puck, Stamkos will be a major threat. Even if the Canucks can shut him down, they’ll still have to beat Ben Bishop, who has been one of the best goalies in the league this season, with a .930 save percentage and 2.08 goals against average.