A new NHL season is upon us, which means a fresh start for the Vancouver Canucks after a forgettable 75-point finish last year.
This season’s edition of the Canucks should be much better. They brought in Loui Eriksson and Erik Gudbranson, as well as Anton Rodin and Philip Larsen. Young players Bo Horvat, Jake Virtanen, and Ben Hutton should take strides towards improvement.
Of course, like any season, some games will be more entertaining than others. Some feature compelling storylines, a rival opponent, or a former teammate, which makes for a more interesting match-up.
Here are six must-watch games for the Canucks this season.
The Canucks are five years removed from their last playoff game against Chicago, when Alex Burrows ‘slayed the dragon’ in Game 7 of the 2011 Playoffs. Still, the Canucks-Hawks games usually get pretty heated, and this year should be no different.
Last year’s first home game against the Blackhawks was a monster game for the Sedin twins, and one of the most entertaining Canucks games of the season. It was a career-high five points for Henrik and Daniel ‘s sixth career hat-trick. Even half of that performance this time around by the Sedins would make for an entertaining game.
Last season was the first time since 2003 the Maple Leafs won in Vancouver. The Canucks will look to start a new streak when they play at Rogers Arena on December 3.
The Leafs have a lot of young players in their line-up, including Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner, which should make for some entertaining hockey. The Leafs are also not very good defensively, which means this could be a big game for the Sedins.
Also, this game falls on Hockey Night in Canada, and who doesn’t love hockey on Saturday night?
One week later, the Canucks will be in Florida taking on Roberto Luongo and the Panthers. It seems every season these two teams make a trade, and last year was no exception when Jared McCann was sent to Florida with some picks for Erik Gudbranson.
The game is the first of a back-to-back, so Jakob Markstrom will probably get the start against his old team. Meanwhile, Gudbranson will play his first game in Florida since the trade.
The Canucks also had an unusually heated game against the Panthers last season, and the Sedins of all people seemed to be in the middle of it. Not sure if that bad blood carries over to this season, but this game is worth tuning into nonetheless.
The Canucks visit the defending Stanley Cup champs on February 14. The Penguins took both meetings last year, winning each by just a single goal. The Canucks will hope to be on the other side of the one-goal games this year, but it won’t be easy with Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Phil Kessel leading the Pittsburgh offence.
It will be Brandon Sutter’s first game back to Pittsburgh since being traded. He was injured during the Canucks’ only game there last season.
Need I say more? There’s no love lost between these two teams, and their match-ups always make for some entertaining games. Since losing to Boston in 2011 (sorry to remind you), the Canucks are 5-2 against the Bruins.
This is the last game of the season for the Canucks, and the second of back-to-back games against the Oilers.
Aside from the typical answer of Connor McDavid, this game will certainly have some talking points. Where will the Canucks be at this point in the season? Where will the Oilers be? Will the Canucks be closer to a playoff spot or the Nolan Patrick sweepstakes?
The Canucks swept the season series against the Oilers in 2014-15, but went just 2-2-1 against them last year. Can they get back to their domination of Albertan teams? That could be the difference between a playoff push and a lottery ball.
There’s obviously no specific game for this happening, but keep an eye on the point totals for Henrik (971) and Daniel (943) Sedin. To get to 1,000, Dank needs 57 points while Hank needs only 29. Both Sedins should hit that mark this season, something only 83 players in NHL history have done. Expect Henrik to hit that mark sometime in early December, and Daniel around early March.
A huge part of enjoying these six must-watch games – and amping up Canuck fever – comes down to the experience you create at home (if you’re not lucky enough to be there in person). Watching the Canucks game on a 13″ laptop screen isn’t quite going to do the trick. Instead, immerse yourself into the action via an ultra-high definition 49” Toshiba 4K TV (see contest details below) with booming sound from a Sonos PLAYBAR Sound Bar. One last thing – the game isn’t quite the same without comfortable seating, so lean back on a super-cushioned recliner and enjoy your favourite sport.
To enter for your chance to win an Toshiba 49” 4K TV (valued at $800), do at least one of the following:
1. Tweet the following on Twitter: (1 entry)
2. Leave a comment below telling us your favourite Canucks player. ( 1 entry)
Contest entries will be accepted from the time and date of publishing until 11:59 pm PST on November 6, 2016. One winner will be chosen at random and contacted through Twitter.