Eleven games to go.
After their four-game trip to Ontario yielded exactly zero points in the standings, the Vancouver Canucks get to sleep in their own beds for just a few nights before heading straight back out on the road.
They're staring down four straight against the Edmonton Oilers — with Connor McDavid looking to accomplish the impossible and post 100 points in this 56-game season.
McDavid already has two Art Ross Trophies to his name. For his first one, in 2016-17, he led the league in scoring with exactly 100 points in 82 games. The following year, he won with 108 points over 82 games. Then, in 2018-19, he hit his personal career high of 116 points in 78 games, but finished 12 points behind Nikita Kucherov. Last season, he was runner-up again, 13 points behind his teammate Leon Draisaitl with 97 points in 64 games.
What's crazy is that every year that he has been in the league, McDavid's points per game have increased:
After a three-point night against Calgary on Saturday, he comes into this set against Vancouver with 87 points in 49 games. He needs 13 in seven games to hit the century mark, which would be 1.86 points per game — a little above his season average to date.
But given that he has 23 points in his last 10 games (2.3 points per game) and 16 in his last six (2.67 points per game), it certainly seems like he'll be able to pull this off if he wants to.
I'm also guessing this means that we won't see McDavid get rested once the Oilers secure their playoff berth. That could happen on Monday night — they need just one more point to get there.
But for both Vancouver and Calgary, hope is in short supply. It was hard to even be disappointed that Montreal won on Saturday night when the victory came off the stick of rookie Cole Caufield in overtime. His first career NHL goal was a huge one.
now gives the Canadiens a 97.5 percent chance of reaching the postseason, with the Flames' odds down to 2.4 percent and Vancouver at just 0.2 percent.
Vancouver's 'Tragic Number,' where they're officially eliminated, is now at eight. That's the total of the number of points that Montreal gains and Vancouver doesn't collect.
If the Canucks lose both their home games to the Oilers in regulation and the Canadiens win their next two games against Toronto and Ottawa, it could all be over as soon as Wednesday — with two more weeks of games left to play out the string.
The Canucks put up a pretty good fight against Toronto as they closed out their road trip on Saturday. They even scored the first goal, Tanner Pearson's 10th of the year and fourth in eight games since coming back from his ankle injury — and signing his new contract.
But the lead lasted not even two minutes before Auston Matthews potted his league-leading 37th goal of the year. Early in the second period, he added his 38th, and that turned out to be the game winner as the Leafs cruised to a 5-1 victory.
With Jake Virtanen and Tyler Motte out of the lineup, Jimmy Vesey and Jayce Hawryluk drew back in. And while neither made the scoresheet, both were pretty engaged. Vesey had five shot attempts in 14:26 — although only one hit the net — to go along with two hits and one giveaway. In 9:11, Hawryluk contributed one shot and three hits.
What the Canucks really need are some goals. They managed just five in total over their four games in Ontario last week.
So it was great to hear that red-hot Jonah Gadjovich was recalled from Utica on Saturday. He'll need to serve a one-week quarantine before he can suit up, but he'll almost certainly get some games. That'll make him the fourth member of the Canucks' 2017 draft class to make The Show, behind Elias Pettersson, Michael DiPietro and Kole Lind. And there's a chance we could get to five before the end of the year, if Jack Rathbone also gets into a game.
That's a rare accomplishment in Canucks' history. It did also happen in Jim Benning's first year at the helm, in 2014. But at this point Thatcher Demko's really the only shining star out of that group. Jared McCann and Gustav Forsling are both having good seasons this year — but they're in Pittsburgh and Florida, respectively. McCann has 28 points in 39 games, a new high for him in points per game. He also leads the Penguins with seven power-play goals, while Forsling's logging more than 20 minutes a game on the blue line for the Panthers.
The other two members of that draft class are Jake Virtanen — currently on leave — and Nikita Tryamkin, whose time as Canucks property officially came to an end over the weekend.
According to the KHL, Tryamkin's new deal with his current club, Avtomobilist Ekaterinburg, is for two years.
Oddly, Ben Kuzma of The Province
has it pegged at three.
And while it makes sense that Tryamkin wanted to get some contract certainty established after waiting for almost all of last offseason to see if the Canucks would have cap and roster space for him, it also seems like there's a disconnect on why he decided to stay put.
"Very simply, the financial gap was too wide for it to make sense for Nikita to move his family to Vancouver for less money than he was making in the KHL," said agent Todd Diamond, according to Kuzma. "We tried to make the number(s) palatable to the Canucks by our willingness to do a one-year deal.
"Nikita wanted to know the numbers now and was not prepared to wait for the Canucks to try and move some contracts out."
But here's what Jim Benning had to say about the situation, also from Kuzma:
“We were prepared to pay Nikita what he was asking for, but my understanding is that his decision in the end was based on wanting to stay in Russia, rather than play in the NHL."
Whatever the reason, this brings the Tryamkin story to a close. Whether his current deal is for two years or three, it'll expire after the Canucks lose the rights to the player that they drafted seven years ago.