You wouldn’t blame a casual fan for having a hard time recognizing some of the players when the Canucks take the ice for tonight’s game against the St. Louis Blues. They will have 10 players in the lineup who weren’t on the team’s opening roster just five months ago.
— Jeff Paterson (@patersonjeff) March 22, 2017
Here’s how the Canucks looked on opening night against the Calgary Flames back on October 15:
|D. Sedin||H. Sedin||Eriksson|
Yes, Bo Horvat was on the fourth line.
Fast forward to today and the team is almost unrecognizable.
Out of the lineup, are the injured/food poisoned guys:
…the scratched guy:
…the Utica guy:
…and the traded guys:
In their place, are a mixture of prospects and AHL call-ups:
…and that doesn’t even include Jasyon Megna and Joseph Cramarossa – who were both injured in Tuesday night’s win over Chicago.
These were the lines at practice on Wednesday:
— Jon Abbott (@HockeyAbbs) March 22, 2017
It has been a strange season for the Canucks. If they win as much in their next 10 games as they did in their last 10 games, they’ll finish with the same point total as last year’s disastrous 75-point campaign.
There seems to be a disconnect between management and the head coach, with most experts predicting that the coach will be gone at the end of the season. Even the fans are fighting amongst themselves as the debate over tanking rages on.
Even some of the injuries and ailments have been non-conventional. Dorsett was shut down for the season back in November to have neck surgery. The team was ravaged by mumps in late February and then by food poisoning in mid-March. And Anton Rodin has played a total of three games this year because of his ongoing knee problems.
In fact, only three Canucks players have played in all 72 games so far: Henrik Sedin, Daniel Sedin, and Luca Sbisa. And he could be off to Las Vegas this summer.
The Canucks had one of the least-talented rosters top-to-bottom to begin with, so losing almost half of the forward group to either injury or trade was a seemingly insurmountable obstacle to overcome.
Contrast Vancouver’s plight to that of the league-leading Washington Capitals. Their game day roster from Tuesday night’s win over the Calgary Flames is almost identical to their October 14 season-opening roster. In fact, there were only two differences: newcomer Kevin Shattenkirk has taken defenceman Nate Schmidt’s spot, and forward Brett Connolly is playing more in the absence of Zach Sanford (traded away in the Shattenkirk deal).
Thus, 11 of 12 forwards are the same along with five of six defencemen. The two goalies have been the same all year: Braden Holtby and Philipp Grubauer. It’s no surprise the Capitals sit atop the league standings and are one of the Stanley Cup favourites.
There is hope and promise for the Canucks in youngsters like Goldobin, Jonathan Dahlen, Thatcher Demko, Brock Boeser, and Olli Juolevi. But it’s going to take a bit of time.
MIC’D UP: Jump down to ice level and listen in as Michael Chaput does a little singing and encouraging while rocking the mic. pic.twitter.com/REHDehp94e
— Vancouver Canucks (@Canucks) March 12, 2017