[Every Sunday, Caylie King looks at the Canucks week that was and the Canucks week ahead. You can follow Caylie on Twitter (@cayking).]
36 GP, 23-8-5, 51 points (1st in Northwest Division, 2nd in Western Conference)
Kevin Bieksa has been playing some of his best hockey since his breakout season in 08/09. In his last 3 games he has 4 points (2-2-4) and is an impressive +6. He is playing smart hockey with good pinches, passes and point shots that are getting through the defence.
With the Canucks on a 4-game win streak it’s hard to call out one individual. But if I had to pick one player, it would have to be Andrew Alberts and only because he is sporting a huge shiner courtesy of a Jody Shelley sucker punch. Classy hockey at it’s finest.
Sunday, January 2nd, 2011 vs. Colorado Avalanche (5:00 PM start, road)
The Avalanche lost to the Calgary Flames on New Years Eve and won in the shootout (after blowing a first period, 3-goal lead) against the Edmonton Oilers on December 30th. The Canucks have gained points in their last 11 games and have won all 3 games versus the Avs this season.
Matt Duchene and Paul Stastny lead the Avalanche in scoring with 38 and 35 points, respectively, in 38 games, but both have combined for 2 points – both goals, both by Duchene – in 3 games against the Canucks.
Monday, January 3rd, 2011 vs. San Jose Sharks (7:30 PM start, road)
The Sharks host the Canucks with an impressive 6-3-1 record in their last 10 games. In their last meeting the Canucks won in a dominating 6-1 performance. The Sharks are a big physical team with scoring talent. Joe Thornton has 7 points in his last 6 games and is tied with Dany Heatley for the team lead for the season with 35 points.
Wednesday, January 5th, 2011 vs. Calgary Flames (7:00 PM start, home)
The Flames beat the Oilers last night and are now riding a 4-game win streak. After lighting up Miikka Kiprusoff for 7 goals in their last meeting, the Canucks look to take advantage of a team that is floundering, with the Oilers, at the bottom of the Western Conference. Jarome Iginla has started to find his game with 10 points (4-6) in his last 10 games, which should make for a good, heated battle between Iggy and Kes.
Friday, January 7th, 2011 vs. Edmonton Oilers (7:00 PM start, home)
The Canucks have had the Oilers’ number this season going 3-0 against the young squad so far. In their last meeting, the Canucks came back from a 2-0 deficit to win the game in the last minute with a tally from Bieksa. The Oilers are struggling with a record of 2-6-2 in their last 10 games.
Their best player at the moment is Dustin Penner, who has recorded 5 points in his last 4 games and is second in team scoring with 25 points (11-14). It should be noted that the Oilers are missing Captain Shawn Horcoff, top scorer Ryan Whitney, and may have lost rookie Jordan Eberle to an ankle injury after Saturday night’s Battle of Alberta.
Saturday, January 8th, 2011 vs. Detroit Red Wings (7:00 PM start, home)
The Canucks host Detroit on a second back-to-back situation in 7 days. The Red Wings are 5-3-2 in their last 10 games, the season series is tied 1-1, which included a thrilling OT loss for the good guys in Detroit. Zetterberg has 7 points in his last 5 games and was named the NHL’s 2nd star last week. This game will likely be a battle for top spot in the Western Conference.
Positive Trend: The Penalty Kill
The Canucks are tied for 5th in the NHL on the penalty kill. In their last three games, the Canucks killed 10 of their last 12 penalties – a PK rate of 83%. On top of that, the Canucks main PKers – Kesler, Burrows and Malholtra – have been able to generate shorthanded opportunities on a nightly basis.
2011 brings with it a lot of optimism and potential. Here’s to more wins, a division title, and the hope that Lord Stanley will be making a pit stop in Vancouver.