Overall, it was a good road trip despite a disappointing 4-2 loss to the Nashville Predators on February 1
Goalie Spencer Martin has been a bright spot for Canucks’ goaltending depth
By Brandon Yip, Senior Columnist
The Vancouver Canucks are playing six games at Rogers Arena in February. At the time of writing, Vancouver’s record is 20-20-6. They have 46 points and are seventh in the Pacific Division—and six points out of a Wild Card playoff spot. The Canucks finished a four-game road trip with a 2-1-1 record.
Overall, it was a good road trip despite a disappointing 4-2 loss to the Nashville Predators on February 1 (the last game of the trip). Canucks coach, Bruce Boudreau, said to reporters after the game that he does not like to lose, but he does not want to be too negative about losses. “You’re never feeling good when you lose,” he said as reported by Sportsnet. “But you look overall, four games on the road and we’re 2-1-1, most teams in this league would accept that and would take it as a victory. You never take it as a victory when the last game is the loss because we all hate to lose. But when I wake up in two days, I’m going to say: ‘You know what? They gave it everything they had.’”
Goalie Spencer Martin has been a pleasant surprise and has provided solid goaltending after replacing Thatcher Demko and Jaroslav Halak (when both goalies entered COVID-19 protocol). The 26-year-old from Oakville, Ontario, was drafted by the Colorado Avalanche in 2013 in the third round (second pick, 63rd overall). Martin’s last NHL stint was playing three games for the Colorado Avalanche in the 2016-2017 season. On January 27, Martin started his third game for Vancouver and recorded his first win when the Canucks defeated the Winnipeg Jets by a score of five to one. Martin’s stats from those three games are impressive, as he stopped 113 out of 118 shots.
Martin says he is trying to make the best of the opportunity that he has been given. “I stayed confident as best as I could,” Martin told the media as reported by Sportsnet on January 28. “I know that there’s a ton of good goaltenders and players in the AHL, too, so I knew that if I did get a chance, I would try to be as ready as possible. And then you look at some of the cases, like [Jordan] Binnington and just looking up to him and working with him in the summers [and] thinking about how he was able to step in after waiting a little bit…I kind of draw from that and try to be ready.”
Halak returned to the lineup on January 27 with Demko returning on January 29 to start against Calgary (Flames won in overtime by a score of one to zero). Bruce Boudreau is pleased with Vancouver’s goaltending depth. “The great decisions (we have) are we know we’ve got another goalie in the system that we can call up and have confidence in at any time,” he said to the media. “He has played great. But… Demko and Halak have proven that they’re great goaltenders, so it’s not going to be a difficult decision. When it does happen and we do have the two healthy (NHL) goalies, we will know that we have a third just waiting…to get to the NHL. He’s been consistent for three games, and I’m sure he would be consistent if we had to play him a fourth.”
The NHL trade deadline is March 21 and there are rumours that JT Miller will be dealt. Miller is the Canucks’ scoring leader with 44 points in 44 games played (15 goals and 29 assists). He may attract valuable assets in return for his solid performance this season. According to a February 1 Sportsnet article, Miller has one year remaining on his $5.25 million contract—then he will become an unrestricted free agent. Sportsnet writer, Iain MacIntyre, during a January 31 appearance on the Sportsnet 650 post-game show, does not believe Vancouver is in an immediate hurry to trade Miller. “There’s a lot of teams interested in him, and if they get an offer that’s too good to pass up, then they’ll probably trade JT Miller this spring,” he said. “But I’m not sure they’re going to get that offer. With [him], I would still probably be more surprised, not shocked, but more surprised than not if they trade him this season….”
While the Canucks get back into game shape after the NHL All-Star break, the Canucks’ official Twitter account is in top form when it pertains to defending the team from outside criticism. Daily Hive reported February 1 before Vancouver played Chicago at the United Center on January 31, the Blackhawks’ in-arena host referred to Vancouver as the “struggling Canucks.” Vancouver defeated Chicago by a score of three to one. After the game, the Canucks posted on Twitter, “Tonight the in-arena host in Chicago called us the ‘struggling #Canucks’ but based off who won tonight and how we’re ahead of them in the standings, we would have to respectfully disagree.”
In other NHL news, Evander Kane signed a contract with the Edmonton Oilers on January 27. The next day, he held a press conference. Reaction in Edmonton to Kane signing with the Oilers has been mixed due to Kane’s well-documented off-ice issues. CBC reported that Kane’s career has been overshadowed by gambling issues, suspensions and sexual-abuse allegations.
Kane is hoping for a new beginning in Edmonton. He told the media that he does not want to talk about the past. But he hopes Edmonton fans will give him a chance. “I take responsibility for things I’ve done wrong,” Kane said. “But I’m definitely not taking responsibility for things I haven’t done. It’s funny that people think that I am going to come in, like some kid on the playground, and disrupt everything. That’s just not the case. I’ve had a lot of experience on and off the ice, I’ve been in this league a long time, and I try to share those experiences with my team and try to help them prevent making the same mistakes that I have.”
Canucks’ schedule this week (all games at Rogers Arena)
Tuesday, February 8 vs. Arizona Coyotes (7 pm)
Wednesday, February 9 vs. New York Islanders (7:30 pm)
Saturday, February 12 vs. Toronto Maple Leafs (4 pm)