Bo Horvat to compete in fastest skater competition at NHL All-Star Game

Jan 28 2017, 5:22 am

I don’t know about you, but I’m still flying high after the excitement of Thursday’s Canucks game versus Arizona. I’ll try to settle myself down enough to go over a state of the union with the Canucks at the NHL All-Star break.

1. Bo’s skills

The NHL released the list of participants for Saturday’s All-Star Skills Competition.

The Canucks’ lone participant, Bo Horvat, will appear in three events.

He’ll provide passes for one-timers in the Skills Challenge Relay, shoot in the new Four Line Challenge, and skate in the Fastest Skater competition.

The one that jumps off the page is of course the fastest skater competition. Other participants include Vladimir Tarasenko, Nathan MacKinnon, and Connor McDavid.

Holy moly.

I expect Horvat to get beat pretty easily, but just being chosen for the competition is remarkable for a player thought to be a poor skater just two years ago. To say he’s worked hard at improving his foot-speed is an understatement.

2. About last night

It was a Dave Tippett masterpiece.

How boring was last night’s Canucks-Coyotes game? This boring:

Sure the Canucks played the night before in Colorado, but that’s no excuse when you’re playing Arizona.

We made Wyatt write about the game in last night’s SixPack. The article was easily more entertaining than the game (seriously, he did the impossible, it’s worth a read).

It included quite possibly the greatest Canucks gif of all-time, which celebrated Alex Burrows getting Vancouver’s first shot on goal in the second period:

3. Wild card race

It’s looking like it will be a six-horse race for the two wild card spots in the Western Conference. To the surprise of many, the Canucks are right in the thick of it.

Can the Canucks squeak into the playoffs this year? It’s certainly possible, but you’d have to consider them a darkhorse at this point.

Vancouver has done well in the last month, but they’ve done it against a number of weak opponents. No shame there, but things are about to get much more difficult. Ten of their next 11 games are against playoff teams:

Thu, 2 Feb 2017 SHARKS CANUCKS
Sat, 4 Feb 2017 WILD CANUCKS
Sat, 11 Feb 2017 CANUCKS BRUINS
Sun, 12 Feb 2017 CANUCKS SABRES
Thu, 16 Feb 2017 CANUCKS BLUES
Sat, 18 Feb 2017 FLAMES CANUCKS
Sun, 19 Feb 2017 FLYERS CANUCKS
Sat, 25 Feb 2017 SHARKS CANUCKS
Tue, 28 Feb 2017 RED WINGS CANUCKS

If they come out of February still knocking on the door, I’ll be a believer.

4. Goaltending

One thing Vancouver has over all the other teams they’re fighting with? Stability in goal.

Jake Allen was given the Blues’ starting job this year, but he’s got an .897 save percentage. Brian Elliott was Calgary’s big offseason acquisition but he’s played less than Chad Johnson and has an .892 SV%.

The Kings’ defensive system is strong enough that they’re keeping backup Peter Budaj afloat, with Jonathan Quick out long term.

It’s been a gong show in the Stars’ crease this season, with neither Kari Lehtonen (.902 SV%) nor Antti Niemi (.900) excelling.

And what about the Jets? They’ve got three goalies on their team now that Ondrej Pavelec, who was sent to the AHL after training camp, has been recalled. Not surprisingly, he hasn’t been a saviour.

The Canucks are the only team in the wild card hunt with two goalies playing well. Ryan Miller is arguably the team’s MVP, with a .920 save percentage. Jacob Markstrom has been no slouch either, at .913.

5. Willie D

I loved this series of tweets from Sportsnet’s Dan Murphy last night.

It can seem like the Canucks are always in a no-win situation with a portion of the fan-base. Win and they’re doing a terrible job of tanking. Lose, and they’re failing at achieving their goal of competing for the playoffs.

One guy I feel for sometimes is Willie Desjardins.

He has been getting it from all directions this season.

A lot of it has been warranted, too.

Bo Horvat started the season on the fourth line. Brandon Sutter got a ridiculous amount of time on the Sedin line despite the fact his underlying numbers were brutal with them. His insistence to play Jayson Megna like he’s an offensive dynamo.

The list goes on.

But doesn’t every coach make a number of seemingly bizarre moves to those on the outside looking in? AV used to baffle the media with some of his moves. He loved Aaron Rome and refused to play Keith Ballard. He wouldn’t play Cody Hodgson top-six minutes.

It’s a results-based industry, and Willie Desjardins has the Canucks at about the spot they should be, given their roster. He’s done it with the Sedins having taken a step back, too.

The Canucks play hard, and they’ve been stingy defensively. Are they boring to watch at times? Absolutely. But the coach’s job is to win games, and he’s squeezing about as much out of this group as you can reasonably expect.

The Canucks are in the hunt for a playoff spot in a down year. Given what Willie has to work with, what else do you expect?

6. Sedins vs Gretzky

I quite enjoyed this stat put forth by Sportsnet on last night’s broadcast.

The Sedins are 71 goals away from having combined on more goals together than any other players all-time.

Our resident stats expert Earl did the math:

The Sedins should come pretty close to breaking this record next year. If they play beyond that, they should eclipse it for sure.

Another fun stat from Earl:

If Jagr could get into a fight at some point, Henrik and Daniel just might have a shot at that record too.

See also

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