Zone Time: Do you believe in the Vancouver Canucks?
The Canucks NHL playoff push suffered a blow in the shootout loss to Ottawa but a win streak to close out the season would give them a chance. Julian is joined by Sam, Rahef and Omar to discuss what's changed in Vancouver and what making the postseason would mean for the team's immediate future.
JULIAN MCKENZIE: I'm a believer in the Vancouver Canucks. I want to see them thrive. Omar, you are also a believer in the Vancouver Canucks.
JULIAN MCKENZIE: Rahef, are you a believer in the Vancouver Canucks?
RAHEF ISSA: I am a believer in the Vancouver Canucks.
JULIAN MCKENZIE: Sam, why don't you believe in the Vancouver Canucks? They have a chance of making the playoffs.
SAM CHANG: I don't not believe in the Vancouver Canucks. That's as close as I'm going to get to that one, but I have-- like I have a lifetime of believing in the Vancouver Canucks that has led to me having feelings about them the way Omar did about the Leafs last spring. So I just, I really prefer to like manage my expectations.
I would rather-- I've said this. People are always like, why are you so negative about the Canucks? I'm like look, this is how I deal with-- this is how I deal with my emotions. I would rather be wrong and pleasantly surprised, than expect them to make it and then be crushed because that's what they've done to me my entire life.
JULIAN MCKENZIE: Damn. For context, as of this recording, they're on a six game winning streak. They're about 4 points out from third place in the Pacific division, 5 points out of a wild card spot with six games to go. It looked as if they were going to be very distant in that chase for that final playoff spot, but they're playing their best hockey right now. They have a legitimate chance.
I believe the Vancouver Canucks to rip shit up and make the playoffs and make some team in the Western Conference like Vegas or even LA or somehow Nashville or Dallas unhappy at their expense. I want to see them do this. I want to see them-- I want to see magic happen, man. That's what hockey and sports are supposed to be about, the impossible being able to happen and everyone being able to rejoice.
We've been looking at how Toronto could be flying the flag for Canada in the playoffs, maybe Calgary this year. Bruce, there it is in the playoffs where anything could happen, I know I would love that. I know I would love that. So I'm rooting for them.
- Yeah, just to build off of that. It ties to a point that Sam actually made at the beginning of the season about the Pacific division is not good. So you look at the standings, like OK, Calgary. Calgary is already a lock. Edmonton, they're probably going to make it.
JULIAN MCKENZIE: I forgot to mention Edmonton too, yes.
- Now the Kings, could they fall out? I wouldn't be surprised. Drew Doughty is out for that. Drew Doughty has an injury. So and again, it's only 4 points right. Only 4 points over that we're looking at and like, I mean, looking at the games at hand. And the Canucks have a game in hand over both Vegas and LA. So like it's really possible, it's really possible.
SAM CHANG: They control their own destiny.
SAM CHANG: They actually control their own destiny, which is kind of terrifying. Yeah, I mean, I love a good underdog story. I think it would be, as a Canucks fan, believe it or not I am a Canucks fan, I would be so happy if they made it, but there is like the practical side of me that's like, does this just make us next year's Montreal Canadiens? Like are we that team who's like, hey, look at us, this is super fun. And then next year, it's just going to suck.
JULIAN MCKENZIE: Whoa, whoa, whoa. As someone in the market of Montreal right now, seeing the team go through what it's going through, if y'all end up as the Montreal Canadiens, y'all will have a good chance of getting Connor Bedard. Like that's not a bad thing. You go through a really good year and then you go through a bad year next year, maybe it'll probably be a bad step for the Canucks considering the core and the advancements they've made. But if you have a chance at getting Connor Bedard in the draft next year, there are worse things.
SAM CHANG: You know what, you just convinced me. I would like the Canucks to be this year's Montreal Canadiens just for Connor Bedard.
RAHEF ISSA: What's Canucks' schedule like? Their [INAUDIBLE] of schedule. What are their remaining games like? Who are they playing? Do they have a chance of really winning.
SAM CHANG: It's all Pacific division teams other than the Suns tonight. I think they play the way-- they play the Golden Knights and the Kings again for sure. They played the Suns tonight, which is actually I think their biggest risk is their tendency is to show up against teams that are good like Colorado. And then they blow games against teams [INAUDIBLE].
- Oh, that sounds familiar.
RAHEF ISSA: We know that story.
- Oh my God. But looking at the schedule, so like to [INAUDIBLE] point, they have Ottawa tonight. They face Minnesota Thursday, Calgary Saturday, which could be huge, then Seattle next week, and then LA and Edmonton. Man, that LA game--
JULIAN MCKENZIE: That LA game could be the game of the year.
- Yeah, that might be a game that if you're not a Kings or a Canucks fan, that you'd watch anyway. Like that's going to be an interesting one.
RAHEF ISSA: That's a huge game. You got to think they have to clean up against a team like Seattle and a team like Ottawa. These are points that they have to pick up in a situation like the one they're in. Calgary, I mean, that's going to be tough. But you never know. Like at this stage of the season, maybe Calgary is kind of just maybe they'll be resting some guys. Like who knows? The stars might align for the Canucks. And I actually sincerely hope they do. I think it would be really fun if they made it.
JULIAN MCKENZIE: [INAUDIBLE] point it out, I mean, by the time this episode comes out that Canucks game against the Suns may have already happened. Maybe some hopes may have been dashed in the process, but I don't think that'll go that way. I think their win streak will be extended and I'm totally cool with sounding like an idiot if it's not the case because--
SAM CHANG: They have been notoriously negative in the Vancouver market. Thomas Durant's calling them inevitable.
JULIAN MCKENZIE: I edited that piece and I was just like, oh my-- like I was reading all of this and I was just like, is Thomas OK? It's like inevitable? Like Thanos like at the end-- well, maybe I shouldn't use Thanos at the end of "Endgame." No, not even "Infinity War." "Endgame," where he's like I am inevitable because we all know what happens to him when he snaps his fingers.
Yeah anyway, but still, like Thomas Durant writing about how the Canucks, they look good, they've matured into this team. They look composed as they did. I was like, what is up with this dude? He didn't he didn't critique them at all. Something's up, something's wrong.
- I mean, I think it's just like it's fascinating right because and I think Montreal is kind of going through something similar as well. It's unbelievable how one [INAUDIBLE] two changes can really just change the atmosphere around the team. And that's the one thing that I've noticed being outside Vancouver is this the aura around the team and how the team is discussed is just different.
There's fun and it's more energetic and it's more positive. Bruce Boudreau is making videos and stuff. They're posting his pre and post game stuff and it's just funny. And I think that's the main difference as opposed to the beginning of the year where it's just like dull and brutal and Jim Benning talking about how the [INAUDIBLE] and yada, yada, and Elias Pettersson looking like a shell of himself.
And now the team looks fun and now it looks like they have like a goal. They have a purpose. They know that they can control their fate, as Sam brought up. And I think it's incredible how you can take a run on just that idea of having something to fight for. And again, I think it works in their favor that they can control their fate. It's not like they have to win games and then hope other teams lose, which some teams find themselves in.
Vegas is going to be in that hole probably next week. I can see Vegas winning like four games and then be sitting down and waiting for like other teams to lose. Vancouver doesn't have to do that. All they have to do is focus on the games that they have. And looking at their schedule, maybe aside from like Minnesota and maybe Calgary, I think all of those games are winnable. So I think they have a really strong chance.