5 Most Important Games Remaining on the Canucks' Schedule
The Vancouver Canucks are 28 games into this lockout-shortened season and have a 13-9-6 record, good for seventh place in the Western Conference.
With only 20 games remaining and the team mired in the traffic jam that is the West, it would be easy to say that every game is important, because they are.
The gap between the third place Minnesota Wild and the 13th place Columbus Blue Jackets is a mere six points. Or to put it another way, the gap between home-ice advantage and a lottery draft pick is a mere six points.
With that in mind, no points can afford to be squandered. However, here are five games for the Canucks that stand out over the rest of the schedule.
Tuesday, Mar. 19 vs. St Louis Blues
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The Canucks need this win badly.
Yes, they are trying to catch the Blues in the standings. But more critically, they are trying to stop the bleeding.
Currently the Canucks are in slump, going 3-5-2 over their last 10 and dropping the past two games on this homestand (5-2 to Detroit, 3-1 to Minnesota) despite getting early leads in both games.
The power play is a mess, the defense is making inexplicable mistakes and the goalies aren't standing on their heads to bail out the skaters anymore.
The Canucks need a win in a bad way to try and get things on track. Luckily, this is the first in a stretch of four games over six days, so they can play their way out of the slump, or out of the playoffs.
Monday, Apr. 1 @ San Jose Sharks
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The Sharks are another team stuck in the Western Conference traffic jam, and the Canucks could use the two points to stay ahead of them.
This is also the last game for the Canucks before the trade deadline on April 3rd, plus it's April Fool's Day.
Last chance for the current roster to make an impression before GM Mike Gillis decides to pull the trigger (or not) on some trades.
Saturday, Apr. 20 vs. Detroit Red Wings
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This is a revenge game, pure and simple. The Canucks have been embarrassed 8-3 on the road and 5-2 at home by the Red Wings.
The Canucks have already lost the season series, but for pride, they need to beat the Wings.
Plus, they might run into each other in the playoffs, and for the sake of confidence, you don't want to face someone who swept you in the season series.
Monday, Apr. 23 vs. Chicago Blackhawks
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The Blackhawks are the class of the league this year. With a 24-2-3 record, they have only dropped points in five games so far. One of those games was against the Canucks. In their two meetings so far, the teams have traded shootout victories.
Putting aside the fact that they hate each other, and that always makes for a good game, this is a litmus test for the Canucks to test themselves against the best in the week prior to the playoffs.
Saturday, Apr. 27 @ Oilers
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The final game of the regular season, this could be either a last tuneup game prior to the playoffs for the Canucks, or a vital game the Canucks need to win to secure the division title.
If things are going really badly, it could be a game they need to win just to make the playoffs.
For the Oilers, this could be the first meaningful game they've played in April in almost a decade. They are currently out of the playoffs, but with how tight the Western Conference is, this might be a game that could put the young Oilers' stars into the postseason.