Canucks Weekly Fares: Canucks Clinch Playoffs, Playoff Tickets Fly off the Shelves, and Demko on LTIR

By: Trent Leith and Brayden Fengler / April 1, 2024  

March 25th vs. The Los Angeles Kings

The first game of the week for the Canucks came on Tuesday. This was the first game where the Canucks found themselves in a playoff-clinching position. If the Canucks had won, their ticket to the postseason would be stamped. But Alas.

The game started slowly with the typical, smothering hockey the LA Kings play that we have all grown to hate. The Kings opened the scoring seven minutes into the game when Kevin Fiala was left all alone for a clear look on Casey DeSmith.

Remember I mentioned how boring the LA King’s brand of hockey is? This was the third shot on net in the entire game. Prior to the goal, there were two shots apiece. Nothing happens on the ice when the Kings are playing.

Sam Laferty scored arguably his nicest goal of the season to tie the game at the 12:50 mark of the first period with a strong play to protect the puck along the boards and a hard drive to the net.

I could watch this goal all day.

The Kings pushed to a 2-1 game in the second period after a puck pinballed off Carson Soucy’s feet two or three times before landing in the net.

Kopitar scored next, off the right wing, he let a shot go and skated behind the net. The rebound bounced around in front of the net and eventually bounced to the far side, where Kopitar was undefended for an easy tap-in.

With an empty net in the final few minutes, Brock Boeser scored his 37th of the year after shooting for a redirection that he didn’t find from a Canuck, but instead found from Kopitar’s foot.

The Canucks pushed hard for the equalizing goal in the final moments, but never found it and the Kings took a 3-2 win in the most boring 1-3-1 fashion possible.

Demko and Bains Roster Moves

On Wednesday, the Canucks announced that they had retroactively placed Thatcher Demko on long-term injury reserve. Demko has not suited up for the Canucks since the second Saturday in March. The Canucks star goalie is still dealing with a knee injury and it looks as though the Canucks are not in any rush to bring him back into the fold, now that their playoff race is essentially over.

This move of placing Demko on LTIR gives the Canucks $5M of salary relief for the time being. Unfortunately, unlike their divisional rivals in Nevada, they could not use this flexibility before the deadline.

In the same breath on Wednesday, the Canucks recalled Arshdeep Bains, adding him to the roster ahead of Thursday’s contest in Dallas. Bains joins a Canucks team now with Dakota Joshua, a player that the squad was missing during Bains’ last call-up.

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March 28th vs. The Dallas Stars

This game hurt.

By the time the out-of-town scoreboard wrapped up their games, the winner of the Stars, Canucks game would be the first team in the west to lock the playoffs.

So the Canucks took on Joe ‘Captain America’ Pavelski, the Stars and the Stripes.

“Canuck” is slang for Canadian, so this was truly Canada vs. the USA by the time the stripes joined the Stars in their pursuit of the Canucks loss.

The first questionable call the refs made (in a long list that would come) was when Ian Cole took a two-minute minor for interference when he pushed Wyatt Johnston into Casey DeSmith. It was a good call, nothing wrong about that, the strange thing is when they also awarded a penalty to Wyatt Johnston for goaltender interference.

Now, as someone who roots for the Canucks, I didn’t mind. But as someone who also looks for good refing, this was not a good sign. It was like ICBC blaming you for being at fault for a car crash, and then the driver of the other car gets punished for being in a car crash. It just doesn’t work and it immediately sets a bad precedent for the rest of the game.

The Stars opened the scoring on the powerplay after a beautiful passing play. But earlier in the play, there was a potential missed high sticking call to keep the play alive, so the Canucks challenged. And it was close.

Ultimately, the call on the ice stood, and it was a good goal. Was it because it was not a high stick? Or was it because you couldn’t confidently overturn the call? We will never know because the NHL and refs are cowards who won’t talk to the media or be held responsible for their calls. But that is another argument.

I think they got it right, but many others were rude in telling me they disagreed. Either way, the Canucks were down 1-0 early.

Do they specify which shoulder? I never heard that. Anyway, let’s take a breather Jay, I didn’t make the call.

The refs did blow this call on Dakota Joshua. It was a textbook interference play in a dangerous part of the ice.

Joshua, who was in his first game back from an injury, never touched the puck here and despite that, was drilled into the boards dangerously based on anticipation of playing the puck. I don’t know how you don’t call this penalty, but like I said, the refs sucked on Thursday night. They weren’t the reason the Canucks lost, but they certainly didn’t help the situation.

The Canucks got a goal back when Garland had some magnificent work along the boards and made a no-look, tape-to-tape pass right to JT Miller for a one-timer.

Jamie Benn scored the go-ahead goal because he refuses to go down on to anybody. And then Robertson scored on an empty net to put the nail in the coffin.

Dallas punched their ticket to the playoffs and the Canucks were still trying to get that fancy little “X” next to their name.

Lekkerimäki Makes AHL Debut

Jonathan Lekkerimäki played two games for the Abbotsford Canucks last week, his first two AHL games on record. Lekkerimäki picked up a point early, being involved in the Canucks’ first goal in his first game playing for the team.

While the Swedish star is still adjusting to the North American ice and the Abbotsford Canucks’ system, it’s nevertheless a relief to see that Lekkerimäki looks to be fitting right in. I’m sure there were a few moments where Lekkerimäki would’ve preferred to have a bit more room on the ice, but overall it has not hindered his ability to demonstrate his skill.

Lekkerimäki and the Canucks won both of their contests last week against the Colorado Eagles.

Playoff Tickets Sell Fast!

The Canucks started to sell playoff tickets on Thursday and Friday to people with presale codes. And fans, who haven’t been able to buy tickets in nearly a decade, were shocked at the prices.

Reports are that season ticket holders with upper bowl tickets paid $128 a ticket in the playoffs which ranged from $60-$119 in the regular season. It makes sense that the tickets would be so high, but it still hurts for all the fans who wanted to get into the games and got priced out immediately.

At this point of the presale, almost all the tickets are sold out, and certainly anything even remotely affordable is sold out.

We will see what happens when the rest of the tickets go on sale, and what happens to ticket prices on the secondary market.

Ty Mueller Signs Entry-Level Contract

On Saturday evening the Canucks announced that they have signed Ty Mueller to a three-year entry-level contract. Mueller is a 105th overall pick from this past draft class and is a Canadian-born player from Cochrane, Alberta currently applying his trade at the University of Nebraska-Omaha.

Mueller has played 40 games for his university this season, notching 11 goals and 15 assists within that time frame.

Patrik Allvin has been impressed with Ty’s development since drafting him last June. The Canucks stated in their press release after Mueller’s signing: “Ty has continued to develop and take important steps forward since we drafted him,” said Allvin. “He is a smart two-way hockey player who we look forward to working with as he makes the transition from college hockey to the pro game.”.

Canucks Clinch

On Saturday night, the Canucks had no game on the schedule and as a result, could only sit and watch as their playoff chances were in the hands of other teams for the night.

The Canucks could clinch if two things happened, the Wild losing to the Golden Knights and the Blues losing to the Sharks. Against all odds, the Sharks fed the Blues their lunch in a decisive 4-0 win on Saturday evening.

As a result, the Canucks officially are in the playoffs, meaning all those playoff tickets fans bought will get used. At a certain point this season it became clear the Canucks would need a catastrophic meltdown to make the playoffs, and more recently, it became clear that the Canucks would at the very least be back into the playoffs.

The Canucks failed to punch their ticket by their hand, but regardless, they are in and will be playing post-season hockey in Vancouver for the first time in nearly 10 years. The last time the Canucks hosted playoff games, the Sedin twins were on the ice, not on the coaching staff.

It doesn’t matter how it happened, but it has happened! The Canucks will see you this spring on their pursuit to bring Lord Stanley back home to Canada.

March 31st vs. The Anaheim Ducks

In the Canucks’ first game after clinching a playoff spot, they faced off against the Anaheim Ducks at 12:30 pm on Sunday for the last game of their nine-game homestand.

Nikita Zadorov was a healthy scratch ahead of Sunday’s contest, as head coach Rich Tochett begins to manage the workload of key players on the Canucks, now that the team has punched their ticket to the postseason. Additionally, Arturs Silovs took the role of the Canucks netminder on Sunday, giving Casey DeSmith the afternoon off.

Despite the Ducks’ 30th position in the league, Vancouver didn’t look like they were fully outclassing the visiting team from the outset. With eight minutes left in the first period though Vancouver got the game’s first goal as Brock Boeser earned his 38th of the season, with the helping hands of Quinn Hughes and J.T. Miller.

Boeser’s goal was also a milestone for Hughes, as his assist on this play finally put him over the top in the category of most points in a single season by a Canucks defenceman.

In the second period, just around the halfway mark, freshly returning Canuck Dakota Joshua earned his club another goal with an impressive between-the-legs move with pressure on him in front of the Ducks net.

From this point on however the team started to fall behind, allowing Anaheim to develop continuous opportunities. Ultimately, early in the third, the Ducks’ Olen Zellweger earned the team their first goal of the night and the first NHL goal of his career.

Just over a minute later Mason McTavish off of a scramble in front made it a tied game, and just like that, the excitement of clinching the playoff was starting to dwindle as Vancouver looked on their way to losing against one of the worst teams in the league.

Dakota Joshua however had other plans. With just over two minutes of play left in the game, a perfectly positioned Joshua in front of the Ducks’ net received a pass from Conor Garland and quickly sent the puck into the back of the net. Despite the lack of energy in the middle stretch, the Canucks walked away with the victory in the end.