[Every Sunday, Caylie King looks at the Canucks week that was and the Canucks week ahead. You can follow Caylie on Twitter (@CayKing).]
48 GP, 29-10-9, 67 points (1st in Northwest Division, 1st in Western Conference)
The All-Star break is coming up and with just two games this week the time off could not come at a better time. The Canucks have been struggling to find their game in their last few contests and have been hit hard by injuries. Hopefully some much deserved rest will help to refocus the team as they make a push into the second half of the season.
In a week during the Canucks lost 3 games – 1 in OT and 2 in the SO – it’s hard to pick a player who stood out as having a great week. That said, Alex Elder was “hot” last week and deserves the honour once again. In 3 games, Edler had 3 goals and 1 assist, averaged over 28 minutes of ice time and was a plus-1.
Christian Ehrhoff had arguably his worst game of the season this past week against the San Jose Sharks. He turned the puck over in the defensive zone, which led directly to Logan Couture’s tying goal. Ehrhoff continued to look shaky for the rest of game making questionable passes and having trouble leaving the zone. Against the Flames, Ehrhoff looked like a player playing with zero confidence. The Canucks have relied upon #5 heavily this season so hopefully he can get out of his funk sooner rather than later.
Monday, January 24, 2011 vs. Dallas Stars (7:00 PM start, home)
The Dallas Stars are coming off a 7-4 loss to the Calgary Flames, but besides that minor hiccup, they have been great in the month of January. They’re currently one of the hottest teams in the West with a record of 7-1-1 in their last 9 games; they are ranked 3rd in the Western Conference.
The only meeting between the two clubs this season came on New Year’s Eve, where the Canucks took a decisive 4-1 win.
Brad Richards has 14 points (2 G -12 A) in his last 10 games. His 56 points for the season leads the Stars and ranks him 6th overall in the NHL, 2 points behind Henrik Sedin and 3 points behind Daniel Sedin.
Wednesday, January 26, 2011 vs. Nashville Predators (7:00 PM start, home)
Equally as hot are the Predators, who have won 9 of their last 11 games. Perhaps surprisingly, they’re currently in 4th in the Western Conference. This is the two teams’ first meeting this season and it comes 50 games into the season.
Their penalty-killing (85.2%) is 6th-best in the league and have only allowed 4 powerplay goals against in their last 38 times shorthanded. This will be a tough challenge for the Canucks; while their powerplay is still ranked 3rd overall, they’ve only scored 3 powerplay goals in their last 7 games (25 PP opportunities).
The Predators are led by their captain – defenseman and 3-time Norris Trophy candidate, Shea Weber, who has 12 points in his last 10 games. He is averaging just under 25 minutes of ice-time per game and is a plus-11 for the season. If that isn’t leadership then I don’t know what is.
Negative Trend: Injuries
The injury bug has officially hit the Canucks, more specifically our defence. The latest casualty came against the Flames as Kevin Bieksa took a solid punch to the face that dropped him. He made a strong effort to try and get his team back into the game, however he left the game in the first period and did not return; Bieksa is listed as day-to-day. Sami Salo is still on the IR and his return is still up in the air. Aaron Rome is on the IR with a sprained MCL and Andrew Alberts is day-to-day with a separated right shoulder. Since we are just past the halfway mark of the season, hopefully our defence will be recovered and ready to go once the playoff push begins.