With nine games to go in their season, the Vancouver Canucks currently sit 10th in the NHL’s Western Conference, three points back of the Dallas Stars, and six points behind the Phoenix Coyotes.
It doesn’t take a math whiz to tell you that the Canucks are facing some long odds here, but let’s turn things over to one anyway. According to math whiz Ken Roberts, the number-cruncher behind Sportsclubstats.com, the numbers have been crunched, and the Canucks boast a paltry 1.9% chance of grabbing that final Wild Card spot.
Meanwhile, Dallas and Phoenix have 37.3.% and 68.2% chances, respectively.
Now, my degree is in English, the academic discipline of the mathematically challenged, but even I know that 1 in 3 is likelier than 1 in 50, and 2 in 3 is even likelier still. As odds go, most people would probably take Dallas’s, Phoenix’s, or the ones that play “It falls apart” before Vancouver’s.
It isn’t a pretty picture. Looking at the standings, at the odds, at the team’s injury list, which currently includes Henrik Sedin (again), Chris Tanev (again), and Alex Burrows (again), and even looking at the schedule’s final stretch, which the team would basically have to sweep to even have a puncher’s chance, it’s pretty much impossible at this point to ignore the obvious:
The Canucks are poised for a miracle run. That’s right. I said it.
It’s already begun. Vancouver’s win over the Buffalo Sabres was their second in as many games. That qualifies as a win streak, their first such run of consecutive victories since mid-January. And there’s plenty more where that came from.
It is on, my friends. Break out the car flags. Cancel your April vacations. Get back on that bandwagon. Let’s aim our cups to the stars as our stars take aim at the Cup. The Canucks are totally making the playoffs.
I hear you. I’ll be the first one to admit that it’s improbable, based on the numbers I just quoted. But improbability is not impossibility, and if this season has proven anything, it’s that, for the Canucks, improbable basically means certain.
Consider the aforementioned Henrik Sedin, injured for the second time this season. In the last decade, Henrik has missed time with an injury zero times. This season? Twice. That’s some improbable nonsense.
Or how about that Luongo trade? The Canucks flat-out gave up on it last summer. Can’t be done, they said. Let’s trade the other guy, they said. And then, suddenly, this season, it goes down.
Alex Burrows went, like, a billion games without a goal. The team as a whole is on pace to have their most offensively inept season ever. Despite his injuries, Henrik Sedin might still win the team scoring title, doing so with the lowest point total for a leading scorer in franchise history. Coach John Tortorella tried to punch his way into the Calgary Flames’ locker room.
All of these things are highly improbable. And yet they all happened, because this year’s Canucks are all about the improbable. Are you going to tell me you think the playoffs are out of the question for a team that’s surrendered a goal on the game’s first shot more times than we can count, and even managed to allow a goal before the game’s first shot once this season? That’s improbable.
You’re going to write off a team that gave up seven third-period goals to the New York Islanders? That managed to score on themselves, shorthanded, with all five of their players in the defensive zone and zero members of the opposition inside the blue line? The team that figured out a way to close the season with a goaltending tandem of Eddie Lack and Jacob Markstrom? That, somehow, saw Alex Burrows hurt himself in a fight with Phil Kessel?
Do you know how many people have been injured in a fight with Phil Kessel before Alex Burrows? None. Ever. Players probably have a .0001% chance of injuring themselves in this manner. But Burrows did it. And we think 1.9% means this team’s finished? Laughable.
If you think this team is incapable of the improbable, you’ve been watching the wrong team all season. You say the playoffs can’t happen for this team. I say anything can happen to this team. I say the mere fact that the playoffs look nigh impossible makes them nigher to possible for these Vancouver Canucks.
All aboard the miracle express, I say. The 2013-14 Canucks are making the dance because it would be unlike them to avoid the unlikely.
This feature takes a moment to recognize the best tweets of the week, because we’re online-type writers and Twitter is an online-type thing. If you see a great Canucks-related tweet, send us a link. Or plagiarize it and bask in its glory.
— Ryan Stanton (@rstanton4) March 20, 2014
STOP DOING IT THEN.
Get the feeling this game ends with a horrified Shorthouse screaming “AND NOW KASSIAN HAS TAKEN HODGSONS HEAD OFF AND IS DRINKING THE BLOOD”
— Wyatt Arndt (@TheStanchion) March 24, 2014
Zack Kassian was beastly against Buffalo. Not this beastly, but close.
Canucks had 4 NHL centers for ALMOST 2 FULL PERIODS!!
— Taj (@taj1944) March 24, 2014
And then Henrik Sedin got hurt again. The Canucks honoured the 1994 team at the Heritage Classic. At the next one, we should honour the team from March 23, 2014, at around 6:30p.m. PST.