After a long offseason, the Vancouver Canucks are finally ready to hit the ice for what fans hope is a march to the playoffs for the first time since 2015. With all the changes that have happened in the offseason, there is an ere of optimism and excitement around the team. Couple that with the 50th-anniversary celebrations, this season is primed to be one for the ages.
It goes without saying that the most passionate Canucks fans will try to catch all 82 games. However, there are a few unique matchups this season that even the most casual fan shouldn’t miss. Here are five Canucks games to circle on your calendar this season.
Note: This is not a top-five list, I have listed the games in the order they appear on the schedule.
Opening Night: A New Hope
Oct. 2 – @ Edmonton Oilers
The first game of the season is always one to look forward to. I can’t think of a better way to kick it off than with a matchup of two of the most exciting players in the National Hockey League in Connor McDavid and Elias Pettersson. The former has already established himself as a consistent threat while the latter will be trying to build upon the greatness shown last season. Can Pettersson do what he did last season and score in his debut?
The game also features the debuts of J.T. Miller, Micheal Ferland and Tyler Myers in Canucks colors. Ferland will be renewing acquaintances with an old rival, as he was a member of the Calgary Flames for four seasons. It will be interesting to see if there is any leftover animosity between the two. As for Miller and Myers, if they can endear themselves to the Canucks faithful in their first game, it will go a long way to stoking the fires of optimism for the home opener on Oct 9.
The Brothers Hughes
Oct. 19 – @ New Jersey Devils
The debut episode of the Brothers Hughes promises to be a good one. Quinn Hughes won’t have to wait long to match up against his younger brother Jack. The dynamic defenseman looks to establish himself as a cornerstone player for the Canucks while Jack Hughes hopes to become the centerpiece of the New Jersey Devils.
It should be interesting to see Quinn attempt to defend Jack one-on-one if that ever occurs in the game. Most likely he won’t be on the ice too often against him if head coach Travis Green plays the matchup game. Regardless, the dynamic of the brothers playing against each other as key pieces of their respective teams makes this must-watch television.
Playing against the Devils this season could be more intriguing too as they have added P.K. Subban and Nikita Gusev to the mix. Playing against former Canucks’ goaltender Corey Schneider is always a treat as well. That is if he wrestles the starting job away from Mackenzie Blackwood.
Burrows Joins the Ring of Honour
Dec. 3 – Ottawa Senators
This game will be one for the ages. Probably not so much for the game itself, but for the man being honoured before the game. Fan-favorite Alex Burrows becomes the seventh man inducted into the prestigious Ring of Honour alongside Orland Kurtenbach, Kirk McLean, Harold Snepsts, Thomas Gradin, Mattias Ohlund, and Pat Quinn. It promises to be a special day for Canucks fans as they get to see their beloved agitator immortalized on the walls of Rogers Arena.
Throughout the night fans will be remembering the many contributions Burrows made to Canucks lore. From humble beginnings as an undrafted forward in the ECHL and the American Hockey League to the height of his success with Henrik and Daniel Sedin. We won’t soon forget the “slay the dragon” goal and the numerous times he stepped up for the team in the 2011 Stanley Cup run.
Being against the only other NHL franchise he’s ever played for in the Ottawa Senators is a perfect cherry on top. Even though he only played 91 games for the franchise, I’m sure he gained some fans in the nation’s capital. Burrows is just that type of player, hated by rivals, but loved by fans.
The Black Skate Returns
Jan. 4 – New York Rangers
The Canucks don the black skate jersey for the first time since the 1996-97 season in this game. That alone makes this a must-see affair. It’s also fitting that the opponent is the New York Rangers, the team that the Canucks faced in the iconic 1994 Stanley Cup Final. The game will most certainly bring back fond memories of Pavel Bure, Trevor Linden, and Kirk McLean as they were the primary figures in that run. I for one am hoping Bure will be in attendance for this one.
As for the present, the game also features two of the most exciting young players in the NHL right now. European rivals Pettersson and Kappo Kakko face each other again after meeting earlier in the season at Madison Square Garden. Both players should be hitting their stride by this time, so it promises to be more exciting than the earlier Oct. 20 matchup.
Sedins Numbers Retired
Feb. 12 – Chicago Blackhawks
Of all the games this season, this one is worth calling in sick for. Don’t PVR this one, folks. Part of a week-long celebration dubbed “Sedin Week,” the legends that are the Sedin twins finally will have their numbers retired by the Canucks. It promises to be an unforgettable night as we reminisce about the good old days and the countless times the Sedins dazzled us on the ice.
The last time we saw Daniel and Henrik Sedin at Rogers Arena, they were turning back the clock with vintage Sedinery. In the final home game of their career, they looked like the 2011 version of themselves. It was probably one of the most memorable games in Canucks’ history. It made Canucks fans forget that the team was missing the playoffs for the third straight season. That was the magic of the Sedins.
“This is a tremendous honor that we couldn’t have ever dreamt of when we first came to Vancouver as 18-year-olds,” Henrik said. “To have our banners next to Stan [Smyl, No. 12], Trevor [Linden, No. 16], Markus [Naslund, No. 19] and Pavel’s [Bure, No. 10] is a tremendous honor and very humbling.”Henrik Sedin – NHL.com
The Sedins will never be forgotten. Fans that saw them in their prime will tell their kids of their accolades and the impact they had on the Canucks as well as the NHL game as a whole. Daniel and Henrik were not only ambassadors of the game, they were also genuinely nice people who gave a tremendous amount of time to the community.
It’s fitting that the Chicago Blackhawks are the opponent. Of all the teams in the NHL, the Blackhawks were one of the biggest rivals of the Canucks when the Sedins were in their prime. I’m sure the team will be motivated to win this game for them.
That was just five games of an 82-game schedule. Check out the rest of it at Canucks.com. Do you have other must-see games for 2019-20? Feel free to comment below!