We’re nearly there…
As of this writing, Vancouver Canucks fans are not yet penciling in a potential parade route, with the team sitting at a so-so 3-2 in the preseason.
Sure, they have only played three teams so far during the exhibition schedule — the Calgary Flames, San Jose Sharks and the Arizona Coyotes. Notice, though, the key word in the first sentence is “penciling” as the reality for the Canucks and their fans is not competing for the Stanley Cup, but rather a spot in the playoffs.
After the debacle that was the grind and block and slow the game to a halt for John Tortorella, this year’s edition of the Canucks appears to return back to what brought success just a few short years ago. If Vancouver is going to have a sniff of a chance at the playoffs this season, the following games may have a big impact on how the year plays out. Yes, there are the always popular battles with the Montreal Canadians and the Toronto Maple Leafs, but many of those are based on either fans liking the Habs, or Vancouverites just hating the city of Toronto.
Fans will argue that the matchup with the Boston Bruins is must-see-TV, but for many, it just mimics that of a scorned ex-girlfriend who continues to bring up issues years after the fact.
Florida Panthers (Thursday, Jan. 8, 2015)
This will be the first time the Canucks face Roberto Luongo since the trade last season. It will also be an opportunity for Ryan Miller to help his new team in a rematch of the 2010 Olympic finalists, this time with Miller being cheered on by Vancouver hockey fans.
Facing off against the best goalie in Canucks franchise history, if fans and players alike can’t get up for this game, there isn’t much to be said for the season.
Anaheim Ducks (Sunday, Nov. 9, 2014/Tuesday Jan. 17, 2015)
Whereas Bobby Lu will more than likely receive a standing ovation, former Canuck forward Ryan Kesler will certainly be showered with a fair share of booing throughout the night when he returns to Vancouver in January.
Fortunately for RK, the first time he will take on his former employers will be in California.
LA Kings (Saturday, Nov 8, 2014)
The middle game of the California road trip (the Canucks play San Jose on Nov. 6) will pit a team that is currently rebuilding against one that is on top of the world and has set the marker for the elite teams in the league.
A few years ago, you could flip the current Kings and Canucks around, as Vancouver was among the top teams in the West and LA was floating mid-bottom.
Funny how times change so quickly.
Chicago Blackhawks (Saturday, Nov. 23, 2014)
It’s fair to say that out of any teams that could be potential rivals with the Canucks, the Blackhawks had the title firmly in their possession. The main difference between today and the last five or six years is that once upon a time, the Canucks were seen as peers, whereas this year, the Canucks will be looking for the upset victory.
Edmonton Oilers (Saturday, Oct. 11, 2014/Saturday, April 11, 2015
The Oilers are now in the stage of playoffs or bust. With a young, explosive and talented lineup (minus a goalie), Edmonton should be battling the Canucks throughout the season in the standings. Each team seems to have taken its own approach to rebuilding, with Vancouver choosing to hold on to a number of veterans.
The Alberta club, however, has decided to build through the draft.
The two teams play each other four times throughout the year, and aside from the Calgary game a few nights earlier basically book end each other this season for what could be a battle for the last playoff spot in the West.