I would like to preface this whole article by saying yes, I am a die hard Leafs fan through and through. No matter who they will ever play I will cheer for them until the day I die. With that being said... MY GOD have the Canucks been a fun team this year. Unless you're on the west coast, or like me you don't sleep at night you're probably missing what's been going down in Vancouver. Let me help you get caught up.
As a kid born in Vancouver I have very small ties to the city given that it's one of only two places I've ever called home. As such, I have a bit of a soft spot for the cities only professional sports team (sorry Whitecaps... the MLS isn't big enough). Given how terrible they've been since their cup runs though that hasn't really meant seeing a good team on the ice. That is until this year.
This year, the team looks to be a whole lot different than anything they've iced in recent memory. They've gotten off to a ridiculous start and find themselves sitting second in the Pacific division only one point behind fellow Canadian team the Edmonton Oilers. What makes this team so special this year? Let me break it down into four sections.
Written in the STARS
No, this team isn't equipped with future Hall of Famers like the Bruins, filled with superstar depth like the Leafs and Lightning, or even loaded with other worldly top end talent like the Penguins. What they do have though, is two of the most electrifying young superstars you will see on any team across the league in Elias Pettersson and Brock Boeser.
Combined the two have only played in 240 NHL games in their career. Definitely a small sample size to consider these two superstars, but between this child look-a-like, and his man rocket winger there is enough talent to carry any NHL team. the pair currently sit sixth and 17th in the NHL points and have helped turn once forgotten JT Miller into a premier scorer in the league.
No, they don't have the goal numbers early in their careers like a Patrik Laine or an Auston Matthews; nor do they have the speed and size of Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. What this pair lacks in numbers so far, they make up for with flare and excitement. Just check out this ridiculous bank pass...
Or this crazy hand eye work.
Or even this hilarity from Pettey.
They do some incredible stuff on the ice together, but if that's not enough to convince you, then maybe take a look at what an incredible human being Brock Boeser is off the ice. I'm not going to break down everything he's ever done because I could write an entire piece on him alone. The biggest feel good story from Brock came from 2017.
After receiving messages on Instagram about a young downs syndrome girl who was his biggest fan, Brock managed to track her down and took her to her prom as her date. To this day he still stays in contact with the girl. This is just one instance of Brock going above and beyond for the fans. Regardless of how you feel about his abilities, it's impossible not to love this Prince Charming look-a-like.
Oh Captain MY Captain
Honestly this might be a hot take, but the Canucks might have the most deserving captain in the NHL in Bo Horvat. A fan favourite for years, an incredible leader in the dressing room, a loyal Canuck... Bo Horvat literally checks all the boxes that your stereotypical captain should have.
Drafted ninth overall in 2013, Horvat came in at a time where hockey was a lot of fun in Vancouver. In his first season with the Canucks he was lacing up his skates alongside natural leaders like Daniel and Henrik Sedin, consummate pros like Kevin Bieksa, Dan Hamhuis and Derek Dorsett, and even complete rats like vintage Alexandre Burrows. He learned from some of the games best leaders very early on.
That was followed by pain and sorrow for a few years for Canucks fans. Horvat however, stuck it out and shouldered the load of him being considered as a slight bust following his first few seasons. He battled every year, steadily increasing his PPG until he became a fan favourite.
This season he was gifted the captaincy by the Canucks for their 50th season and has taken that role and run with it. While his leadership has never faded, he's also managed to net six goals and seven assists through the teams first 15 games, all while not playing on the first line.
Horvat is just a feel good story of a guy who has never been the best player on his NHL team, but has managed to grind and lead his way into one of the greatest honours a player could have. It's really hard not to root for Bo Horvat the person.
Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch
There are a lot of incredible goalies in this league. Most fans know the names Vasilevsky, Fleury, Bishop, and Gibson. One name I think could use a little more love is Jacob Markstrom. He's never been the guy to put up Vezina like numbers, and will throw in a handful of stinkers at you from time to time. When he's on his game though... good luck.
His flashy saves will wow you, his never give up attitude is incredible, and at times he was the only reason that the Vancouver Canucks were winning games. Will he ever be the best goalie in the league? Absolutely not. But will he do something that makes you say "wow" every single night? It's almost guaranteed.
If you're looking for a lack of stress then Marky probably isn't your guy. But if you wanna have a ton of fun in games that you think you should be losing but end up winning, you've come to the right place.
They've Got the Better Hughes Brother
Okay, maybe not, but they certainly have themselves a gem in Quinn Hughes. Any hockey fan knows about Jack given his legendary status coming into the 2019 NHL draft. Quinn however, flew under the radar a little bit and is looking like a bona fide star on the back end of that Canucks blue line.
The 20 year old was given a quick five game stint with the Canucks at the end of last season to help jump start his adaptation into the NHL for this season. Quinn responded with three assists in those five games and made himself look like a wizard on skates in those three games.
He has continued to put up numbers this season in the NHL after breaking camp with the team. Through his first 14 games Quinn has two goals and nine assists for 11 points. Compare that to his brother Jack who has three goals and four assists for seven points through the teams first 13 games. Obviously he's not going to continue to outscore his younger brother, but don't be surprised by his point totals.
A fluid skater with incredible offensive upside, Quinn Hughes will be a dominant first line defenceman for years to come in this league.
Do I have a soft spot for this team? Sure. Is it really fun to see former Leaf and Innisfil native Josh Leivo succeeding on a good team? Absolutely. Is this success gonna continue all the way into the playoffs? Who the hell knows, but if you want to have a little bit of fun, hop on the Canucks bandwagon with me and lets enjoy this ride together.