The Vancouver Canucks are set to play 15 games in the month of December. Although their season has not gone as expected, there are still some must-watch games to end 2021. Here are five games Canuck fans should tune into this month.
Ottawa Senators- Dec. 1
There is no real rivalry between the Canucks and Senators, but this game is a must-watch due to the off-ice implications. This game will mark the end of the Canucks five-game road trip and maybe the last game coach Travis Green coaches the team. After the game, the Canucks fly home and have two days off, giving any interim coach some time to get acclimated with the team.
For weeks, Canucks fans have been hearing that change is imminent, and after this road trip seems like the best time to make a change. If this is coach Green’s last game, he will finish in the top five for all-time coaching wins behind the Canucks bench with 131 or 132 depending on the result versus the Senators. As mentioned, the coaching change is not guaranteed to happen after this game, but all signs point to a new head coach being behind the bench when the Canucks face the Penguins on Dec. 4.
Los Angeles Kings- Dec. 6
The Canucks welcome back an old friend on Dec. 6 when Alex Edler returns to Rogers Arena for the first time as a visitor. The Swedish defenceman currently sits 10th all-time in Canucks scoring with 409 points and is the franchise leader in goals, assists, points, and games played amongst defencemen. He currently sits at 99 career goals, so this game could also have a milestone moment in it.
Over Edler’s 15-year career, he had some memorable moments in Vancouver. He scored 49 points in 82 games during the 2011-12 season and blocked over 1,700 shots in his career. His crowning moment in Vancouver was helping the Canucks reach the Stanley Cup final in 2010-11. During the 2010-11 playoffs, he averaged over 24 minutes of ice time and led all Canucks players with 60 blocked shots. This game will be an opportunity for fans to say thank you to the all-time franchise great as he carves out a new chapter in Los Angeles.
Boston Bruins- Dec. 8
Canucks fans are not the biggest fan of Bruins forward Brad Marchand. From punching Daniel Sedin in the face multiple times during the Stanley Cup final to injuring Sami Salo with a dangerous hip check from behind which resulted in a five-game suspension, he has made himself public enemy number one in Vancouver over the last decade. This season, he was up to his old tricks as he slew-footed Oliver Ekman-Larsson on Nov. 28 and was given a three-game suspension.
If the Canucks want to make their fans happy, they will emphasize beating the Bruins on Dec. 8. Call this a revenge game or whatever the team wants to get motivated; this is a must-win game for the Vancouver fan base. The Canucks don’t need to blow out Boston as they did in 2019, but they need to ensure they win and that Marchand stays off the scoreboard. Otherwise, we could get another miming of him lifting the cup and kissing it as he did back in 2013.
Arizona Coyotes- Dec. 19
Typically, a visit by the Coyotes would not peak fans’ interest, but this matchup should see the return of some former players. Jay Beagle, Antoine Roussel and Loui Eriksson all return to Vancouver for the first time since the offseason blockbuster between the two franchises. Although the memories were not as pleasant as the ones Edler produces, all three players did play significant time for the Canucks and should be honored with a tribute.
This could be a milestone night that Canucks fans will never forget, as Eriksson is only three points away from 600 in his career. The Coyotes are set to play eight games between Nov. 30 and Dec. 19, so fans will miss out on his 1,000th NHL game, but the 600th point is very possible. After all the turmoil he put Vancouver fans through during his 252 games with the organization, it is unknown what type of reception he may get. Either way, this is an opportunity for the fans to honor or boo one of the most frustrating players in Canucks history.
Seattle Kraken- Dec. 27
Dec. 27 will be the first-ever regular-season game between the Kraken and Canucks at Rogers Arena. Unlike the first meeting that occurred in Seattle, the border is open, which means there should be some opposition fans in the building. This should lead to some back and forth chanting in the stands as Seattle fans make the trip up to Vancouver to witness the rivalry live.
Fans will get to see former Canuck Jared McCann hit the ice for the Kraken. The former first-rounder has hit his stride in Seattle, finishing November with seven goals in nine games. Unfortunately, this is another reminder of the team giving up on a prospect too early and them flourishing elsewhere in the league. Regardless, this should be an exciting game the Canucks fans should try and attend.
Make or Break Month for the Canucks
If the Canucks have any hope of making the playoffs, they need to pull off a historic December. This means they need to get close to 26 out of a possible 30 points this month to get back in the chase. More importantly, they need to win all seven divisional games this month as they can not afford to give up points to those teams they are chasing. If they continue to fall behind this month, Vancouver may want to start looking around the trade market to see which players they can be moved for assets.
Adam is excited to be joining The Hockey Writers as part of the Seattle Kraken and Vancouver Canucks team. His work can also be found at area51sportsnet.com where he covers the Vancouver Giants of the Western Hockey League.