The Paper Feature: All aboard the Miracle Express, the Canucks are making the playoffs

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.

***

Tweet Podium

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. 

BRONZE

 

STOP DOING IT THEN.

SILVER

 

Zack Kassian was beastly against Buffalo. Not this beastly, but close.

GOLD

 

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.

15 comments

  1. Burrinator
    March 26, 2014

    DON’T STOP BELIEVIN, HOLD ON TO THAT FEEEEEEELING from 2011!!!!

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    • Zach Morris
      March 26, 2014

      Vancity had the greatest team
      That was in nineteen fifteen
      Before the forward pass
      But it kinda counts

      Then nineteen ninety four
      Vancity nearly won once more
      The city was destroyed
      When we couldn’t win

      Roberto came to save the day
      From Florida for Bertuz-zay
      But Chicago kept on beating us
      It went on and on and on and on

      We all, waited
      Watched our greatest rivals win
      We can’t be, worse than
      the Flames?
      Then came, forty
      We finally were unbeatable
      Certain to win the Cup

      Burrows scored, got the kill
      Nashville series? Sleeping pill
      The stanchion scored on San Jose
      Just one more game
      Gonna win
      How’d we lose?
      We were supposed to hear the Luuuuus
      Oh, the journey never ends
      It goes on and on and on and on

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  2. cathylu
    March 26, 2014

    So I should book my flight to Vancouver for the third week in April?

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  3. bob
    March 26, 2014

    Can someone tell me if Jensen’s is going to burn through his first year of entry level contract? That would suck if they don’t make the playoffs AND they burn a year… AND also not get a high draft pick.

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    • Harrison Mooney
      March 26, 2014

      No, the first year of it gets burned either way.

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  4. peanutflower
    March 26, 2014

    I hold on to that miraculous SC win by LA — they barely made it into the playoffs. Miracles can happen, to be sure. This is a pretty big one tho…..

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  5. Brent
    March 26, 2014

    Dreamer, you know you are a dreamer
    Well can you put your hands in your head, oh no

    Of course any Canuck putting their hand in their head would result in yet another injury. And nobody wants to see that. Well unless we want to really tank and go for a higher draft pick in what by all accounts is a pretty weak year. Way to go Canucks, can’t even tank in the right year!

    I feel some heavy drinking coming on next Tuesday!

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  6. John in Marpole
    March 26, 2014

    Harrison, you are on to something, something big. And it could lead to incredible riches.

    Using the ‘Harrison Improbability Theory’ I am rushing out right this minute and not buying a ticket on the 649 Lottery. This means, surely, that I will win the big $, because there is nothing more improbable than winning a lottery one doesn’t have a ticket on, and as has been proven every week since forever, when I do buy a ticket I don’t win.

    Thanks dude. I’ll send a postcard from Tahiti.

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  7. David
    March 26, 2014

    The odds (or percentage) of the Canucks grabbing that last spot is 1.9% , and it’s 37.3% for Dallas, and 68.2% for Phoenix, then that adds up to 107.4.

    I recognize that sometimes things aren’t obvious in statistics. But assuming this is to generate the likelihood of each team grabbing the last spot, then something seems amiss.

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    • Harrison Mooney
      March 26, 2014

      I don’t understand math. But I don’t think it quite works like that. Not that I can explain how it does work, mind you.

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      • David
        March 26, 2014

        Right – which is why I thought something was up. Maybe it was the odds of making the playoffs in general, and not the actual berth.

        If you have 1000 universes to toy with, and each one played out to see who gets the final spot, in 19 of them the Canucks would, in 373 Dallas would,, and Phoenix would in 682 of them. And that doesn’t make sense, as you’d have a shortage of universes. And no-one likes that.

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        • Harrison Mooney
          March 26, 2014

          Yeah, it’s odds of the playoffs at all, not just the 8th spot. The 7th playoff spot has yet to be clinched, so it’s messing with things.

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        • Lemming
          March 26, 2014

          …purple monkey dishwasher.

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  8. Wetcoaster
    March 26, 2014

    Where you make your mistake, Harrison is that all of the improbable things you have listed are improbable and bad. Making the playoffs is improbable and good, a combination that has been markedly rare this season.

    Unless, that is, there is in fact an improba-PDO which you are expecting to regress to the mean, in which case…. carry on

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  9. Brian
    March 26, 2014

    I’ve got a feeling it’s going to Minnesota they catch, not Phoenix. They’re playing terrible, they’ve got Backstrom out for the year, and they have a tougher schedule than Phoenix. I think the Canucks pass Dallas, pass Minnesota, and Phoenix pulls into the 7 spot. Still a long-shot, but it could happen.

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