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Canucks doing better than expected, as they enter the second quarter of their season

(Sportsnet screengrab)

Canucks hovering around the .500 mark, despite experts predicting they'd be cellar dwellers

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – It’s been a tough year so far for fans of the Vancouver Canucks but it could have been a lot worse. The team was pegged by many experts to finish last in the league but the club is still hanging around.

As the Canucks reach the quarter pole on their campaign, Sportsnet 650’s James Cybulski is giving them a B+.

“This team has shown a lot — a little more offensively than expected. They’ve turned the page with a new top scoring line, which a lot of people have wanted to see. They’ve kept their head above water on the back end, with all the injuries. And goaltending has been a pleasant surprise, as well, as Markstrom and Nilsson try to vy to determine who is going to be number one.”

Cybulski notes the club is above the .500 mark but he isn’t sure how long that will last.

“I think this week, we’ll probably get a real sense of whether or not this is sustainable, the way that this team is keeping their head above water. Because it’s six games on the road, you’re without two of your top six defenseman. But thus far, they’ve out-worked teams more nights than not through the first 20 games of the season.”

He points out Henrik and Daniel Sedin have been struggling and aren’t producing, offensively.

“The power play has struggled a lot. So, I think there’s probably going to be a bit of a market correction for them, offensively. But the reality is it’s a speed game in today’s NHL and it’s something that they don’t really have, especially now in their late 30s.”

But Cybulski adds Brock Boeser is giving fans hope. “[He’s] going to be a leading candidate for rookie of the year. He leads the team in scoring. He’s been remarkable. And he’s 20. So there’s a lot to get excited about, from that standpoint.”

The Canucks begin the second quarter of the season this afternoon with a tilt against the Philadelphia Flyers. You can catch the play by play beginning at 4 p.m. on Sportsnet 650.