Both have been keeping me up at night. Thankfully, Sami Salo is taking tonight off against the San Jose Sharks. The underrated Nolan Baumgartner will fill-in in his place. Did you know that ‘Baumer’ is a career +22 in 97 career games in a Canucks uniform? He’s played in ten games this season and has been a minus player only once.
So this is a good move for the oft-injured Salo. Every time he goes into the corner to retrieve a puck I’m worried that he’s going to get injured. The “new Mitchell” has stepped up his game this year, and in my estimation has been the team’s best d-man this season. He’s also been remarkably healthy, which can only mean one thing: he’s due. A Sami Salo injury, combined with Willie Mitchell’s injury, could cause the Canucks to get bounced in the first round of the playoffs.
That brings me to the Detroit Red Wings. Don’t look now (ok, have a look), but the Red Wings are probably the most likely team to play the Canucks in the first round. Should that prospect terrify the Canucks? YES! The Wings have almost as many points as the Canucks and would have even more had they stayed at all healthy. They’re an elite team, peaking at the right moment. The Canucks on the other hand have a star goaltender not playing well and a banged-up defense corps. That series would be a pick ‘em series, not something you crave in the first round. The Wings play the Blue Jackets and Blackhawks in their final two games. Lets hope they win both and get some help to land the #5 spot.
If the season ended today, the Canucks would draw the Nashville Predators in the first round. Much to the delight of “Sully” and “The Force”. Their defense is very good, but they have decent goaltending and sub-par forwards. If the Canucks match their work effort, they should win in a 7 game series. They’ve only got one game left though, and will probably get passed by Detroit and Los Angeles to finish seventh.
The Los Angeles Kings are a bit of a darkhorse team. They boast a lot of great young players, including Drew Doughty, Dustin Brown, Jack Johnson among others. Are they this year’s version of the Chicago Blackhawks (too young and stupid to feel the pressure of the playoffs) or the St Louis Blues (too inexperienced to thrive in the playoffs), the answer is probably somewhere in between. If the Red Wings don’t finish 6th, the Canucks will likely play the Kings.
In case you need more convincing on why you’d want to play the Kings instead of the Wings, ice girls!