MARCH MADNESS is in full swing around the NHL from intense playoff drives, to playing with jobs on the line for next season, to playing spoiler, there is no shortage of dramatics around the league. Expectations will be met and not met as teams keep battling for divisional positioning all in the hopes of holding onto or grabbing onto a playoff qualifying position. Who will be left standing when all is said and done? Will any teams manage to pull off a last minute upset to steal playoff berths? Who will miss the playoffs in shocking fashion and who makes their playoff comeback? Time will tell who will be left standing when the dust settles before the storm that is the NHL playoffs begins.
As for the Vancouver Canucks, despite an insane injury bug that came calling in early 2015, they are once again playing meaningful games in March. Meaningful games being played by the Vancouver Canucks in March! That feels good to write…who would have thought after the torpedo that was their 2013-2014 season under Torts, that they could be capable of a quick turnaround?! Or perhaps when the injuries began to pile up between January and February, any hopes that were once sparked have turned into doubts? Or perhaps you were of the cautiously optimistic variety? This season could not be more different from last season despite a massive injury pile up. For much of January and February the Canucks had a myriad of different players being asked to step up game after game due to the ever growing list of injuries. Somehow they found ways to win games despite a depleted lineup giving themselves an opportunity to go on a stretch drive run for March madness and an April tuneup.
March madness indeed! 21 games in March and early April with a near healthy lineup for the first time since the start of the season. Divisional rivals and wildcard holders trying to keep pace with the Canucks or even potentially pass them in the standings. Every game has playoff implications. Every game will dictate where the team stands when all is said and done after 82 games. As they have done all year, they have won games they should, they won games that were considered impossible and lost games they presumably should have won. Through 11 games in March, they have amassed a 7-3-1 record (15 points) to help them maintain second place in the tight Pacific Division. These final ten games will set the tone for the post-season should the Canucks earn a playoff berth.
One thing is certain, that no matter what situation the Canucks find themselves in after the final buzzer on April 11th, this team is slowly beginning to turn THIS city into BO-lievers once more! 72 games down, 10 games to go. Playoffs looming and anticipation of what could be grows with each victory. March Madness will soon be followed by the April rush that sets up the ever exciting race for Stanley.
As always, until next time, nuck said.