Now that the Canucks last home game before the Olympics is done it’s time to look forward to those 45 days away from GM Place that includes a 14 game road trip interrupted by the Olympics for two weeks. The Canucks leave GM Place in the hands of VANOC and embark on a 14 game road trip which has a lot of fans worried because going into this road trip they currently own the second worst road record amongst any of the playoff teams in the East and West. That doesn’t paint an accurate picture though as the Canucks in their last 10 games away from home, after a terrible start on the road this year, are 6-3-1.
The Canucks main concern isn’t even going to be the first half of the trip:
Jan. 30 at Toronto
Feb. 2 at Montreal
Feb. 4 at Ottawa
Feb. 6 at Boston
Feb. 9 at Tampa Bay
Feb. 11 at Florida
Feb. 12 at Columbus
Feb. 14 at Minnesota
The first half of the trip the Canucks do a swing through Eastern Canada and if there’s one thing the Canucks have been able to do it’s devour teams in the East. When you look at the East teams the Canucks are playing they have better goal tending, and the fact that they rarely see these teams gives them the advantage because the other team’s lack of familiarity should let the Sedins run rampant.
The six of the first eight games on the road swing should be a breeze. Even if the Canucks go 6-2 through that stretch that’ll be a fantastic lead up to the two week Olympic break. The tough part is after the Olympic break. The Canucks six games after the Olympics looks like this:
March 2 at Columbus
March 3 at Detroit
March 5 at Chicago
March 7 at Nashville
March 9 at Colorado
March 10 at Phoenix
In the first eight games of the road trip the Canucks play only one, maybe two playoff teams (depending on the standings fluctuation). In the back end of the road trip, post Olympics, they’re ploughing through some of the toughest teams in the West and taking on a list of Western Conference playoff teams. They’re also hitting four teams in the Central Divsion, a division they’ve improved against lately but one that has been unkind to them all season.
The other concern for the Canucks is going to be the Olympic hangover. This could work both for and against the Canucks. The Canucks are going to have 7 of their stars play throughout the two weeks and you have to imagine fatigue will kick in. The rest of the team should be nice and rested, but it’s a double edge sword if the rest just leads to a sluggish start and they take a few games to find their legs. That being said every NHL team is in the same boat so that should even the playing field and the Canucks stars will have to lead the team having been the ones that played through the two weeks off.
The thing everyone’s going to be watching the most on this trip though is going to be Henrik Sedin’s play. He leads the NHL in the points race going into this road trip, but of the 76 points he’s scored this year, 49 of them have been on home ice. That’s the most by any NHL Player this season, but means if Henrik is going to contend throughout the remainder of the season his road numbers are going to have to go up drastically. This road trip is going to define the Canucks season. It’s been said before and sounds somewhat cliché, but it plays a role in determining whether the Canucks chase a playoff spot down the stretch or sit comfortably while watching the rat race, and it’s going to determine just how good Henrik Sedin really is. Either way, with the last three games of the regular season versus NW division opponents, you can’t help but think this season is going to come down to the wire yet again.