Canucks vs Jets Game Day Report: Battle for the Wild Card

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Canucks Game Day Jets

Once again looking to rebound from a dismal performance in their previous game, the Vancouver Canucks are back in action on Tuesday night against the Winnipeg Jets.

Sunday was a typical day in the life of a Pacific Northwest sports fan. Not only did Vancouver lose yet another pivotal battle against a Western Conference opponent, but the Seattle Seahawks literally handed the Super Bowl over the the New England Patriots only a few hours later.

Although Seahawks fans should still be incredibly proud of their team from winning the Super Bowl in 2014 and coming so close to repeating in 2015, I think this pretty much sums up the feeling among fans of the Canucks and Seahawks after Sunday.

Now that the NFL season is finished, we can all focus on the stretch drive for the Canucks as they look to compete for one of the final playoff spots in the Western Conference.

Matchup

Game Time: 7:00 pm

TV: Sportsnet Pacific

 Image: jets.nhl.com

The Winnipeg Jets have been much more competitive this season than many pundits could have predicted and are currently occupying the 6th spot in the Western Conference standings. Although the cushion they had built is slowly deteriorating after losing their past four games.

The Canucks will have to show some killer instinct to take advantage of a fragile and tired team that will be visiting Roger’s Arena on Tuesday Night.

Storylines

1. What the Hell Happened to this Team?

Image: canucks.nhl.com

We know Eddie. It’s incredibly hard for us to watch the Canucks as well.

It’s hard to say exactly what has gone wrong with the Canucks over the past couple of months. But just like all those cool toys and fancy gadgets we got for Christmas, this team isn’t fun anymore.

When this team first hit the ice in September, there was life and a new energy that manifested itself in an exciting brand that produced goals and encouraged creativity. Unfortunately, something occurred to make that all go away and now we are left with the team that looks like it will struggle to tie their own skates, let alone make it to the playoffs.

So what happened to this team?

Sigh.

Well, at least Coach Miller’s numbers are improving.

2. Kassian Doesn’t Complain

 Image: nhl.com

In his short time in Vancouver, Zack Kassian has managed to quickly turn himself into a polarizing figure on the Lower Mainland. While some view his recent healthy scratches as unjust and stupid, others see the player who hasn’t lived up to his potential and has somehow managed to piss off three different coaches enough to never secure a chance at a top-six role on the Canucks.

At this point, the argument appears to be moot as it almost seems like a sure bet that the maybe power forward will be dealt before or at the trade deadline.

For his part, Kassian is taking it all in stride:

Zack can talk the talk all he wants, but the fact is that the Canucks brass (right or wrong) has not seen enough from the young forward to keep him in the lineup. It’s a shame because everyone knows what Kassian could become.

It just doesn’t look like that’s going to happen in Vancouver.

3. The Playoff Race

We’re now getting down to the nitty-gritty of the National Hockey League season where the playoff teams begin to separate themselves from the pretenders.

Well that’s what is supposed to happen anyways, but being that this is Gary Bettman’s NHL, it seems like the teams that everyone has forgotten about are still lurking and ready to strike.

In particular, the last wild card spot in the Western Conference is going to be decided by a dogfight as Calgary, Vancouver, Dallas, Colorado, Minnesota and yes, the Winnipeg Jets are all within striking distance.

Games like Tuesday’s against the Jets are what will make or break Vancouver’s chances of making it into the playoffs. They cannot afford to give up valuable points to a conference rival, especially when said rival is playing it’s second game of back-to-backs that includes travel.

By the way, if you noticed that I didn’t include Los Angeles in the teams currently in the playoff mix, it’s because when they finally decide to start giving a crap, they’ will take a playoff spot and probably make it to at least the Conference Finals because it’s the Kings and they can.

They just can…

Lineup

I’m going to let the Vancouver Sun’s Elliott Pap break the lineup moves for Tuesday’s game against the Jets:

*Update:

D. Sedin H. Sedin Vrbata
Higgins Vey Hansen
Matthias Bonino Burrows
Dorsett Horvat Kenins
Edler Tanev
Hamhuis Weber
Sbisa Clendening
Lack

 

Prediction

The Jets are reeling a bit having lost four straight games and played Monday night in Calgary. I can’t imagine the Canucks losing this one so they had better win it by at least two goals. I’ll say Vancouver wins 3-1.

And they had better win!

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Steve Lancashire Canucks Contributor
@lankey22

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