After a demotion to the farm team to play six games in nine days, prospect number one Cody Hodgson returned to the big club in time for the last game (a tough home ice loss to the fabled and desperate Montreal Canadiens). And at the end of it all, he had under five minutes of ice time to show for it - none of it in the third period with the game hanging in the balance.
So what gives? The Canucks are so comfortably positioned in the standings that it would take a free fall of epic proportions to slip any lower than the 2nd seed in the conference - an achievement that would have been welcomed when the season started. Clearly, the Canucks are in a luxuriously unprecedented situation to test the boundaries of some up and coming players.
And here we are over three quarters of the way through the season, and we still have no idea who our fourth line centre ice-man might be. When the season started, the job was really Hodgson’s to lose. And with injury troubles, he did. But what about now? Shouldn’t we see if he’s got what it takes?
While the Canucks can rightfully lament their injury woes on the back-end, they’ve been blessed up the middle without a single man game lost to injury to their top three centres. That is remarkable. And when that good fortune runs out, there will be a crisis, with the untested Hodgson sliding into third spot on the depth chart.
Last game was an important one for the visiting and slumping Habs, but for the Canucks was a simply a mean nothing mid-season game. What better opportunity to throw Hodgson to the proverbial wolves. Instead, Ryan Kesler played nearly half the game while the rookie centre had his ass stapled to the bench.
Make no mistake, Kelser has earned the ice time. He is playing fantastically well. And we’re certain that he’s physically fit enough to play these kinds of minutes. But what is to be gained from it at this point in the season? Why not save this kind of treatment until crunch time?
In the end, it’s Coach Vigneault’s call. And it wouldn’t surprise us if he was a little too preoccupied with continuing his home ice winning ways against his former employer to worry about accommodating Hodgson’s development. And maybe that’s okay. For one game. But we’d like to see that change down the stretch. And we’re sure if Mike Gillis has his way, it will…