[Every Sunday, Caylie King looks at the Canucks week that was and the Canucks week ahead. You can follow Caylie on Twitter (@cayking).]
63 GP, 39-15-9, 87 points (1st in Northwest Division, 1st in Western Conference)
When the Canucks signed Manny Malholtra to a 3-year/$7.5 million contract in the summer, no one expected him to be one of the top scorers of the team. He was signed for his faceoff domination, penalty-killing and veteran leadership. But no matter what anyone says, scoring goals and getting points is one of the best parts of the game. After going 19 games without recording a point, Uncle Manny has 7 points (3G-4A) in his last 8 games, including the game-winner against the St. Louis Blues this last Thursday.
After a career year in goals, assists and points (25G-28A-53P) last year, Mason Raymond has been very disappointing this season. He seems to be making better decisions and getting more chances recently, but in the last game against Boston, AV decided to bump him to the fourth line in place of Tanner Glass.
May Ray hasn’t recorded a point in 5 games and is a minus-4 in that stretch; the last time he scored a goal was at the beginning of February against the Coyotes. It might take a stint on the fourth line or possibly scratching him, and giving Jeff Tambellini a go on the second line, to wake Raymond up. All I know is that Canucks nation is anxiously awaiting the resurgence of Mr. Dimples, #WeAreAllCardboardRaymond!
Tuesday, March 1, 2011 vs. Columbus Blue Jackets (7:00 PM start, home)
Columbus is hot, going 8-1-1 in their last 10 games. They’re making a serious push for a playoff spot and are only 4 points behind 8th place Dallas and Chicago with a game in hand on both.
The Canucks have won both meetings this season, the more recent one a 7-3 shellacking just before Christmas.
Rick Nash, captain of the Blue Jackets and Olympic gold medal winner, is having an excellent season. He is currently on a 6-game point streak; he has 10 points (5G-5A) during that stretch. He leads the teams the team in goals with 29 and in points with 56.
The Blue Jackets recently boosted their defence by picking up Craig Rivet off re-entry waivers from the Sabres.
Thursday, March 3, 2011 vs. Nashville Predators (7:00 PM start, home)
Points-wise, the Nashville Predators are tied with Dallas and Chicago for the 8th and final playoff spot; the Stars and Blackhawks have a game in hand though. The Preds beat the Blue Jackets last night, but had lost 4 games in a row before that.
The Canucks and Preds have split both meetings to-date this season. Martin Erat scored a goal and added 2 assists in those meetings. Despite missing 16 games, Erat is 4th in team scoring this season with 32 points (10G-22A).
Saturday, March 5, 2011 vs. Los Angeles Kings (1:00 PM start, away)
The Kings are playing some of their best hockey, as of late, going 8-1-3 in their 12 February games so far. They are currently on a 3-game win streak and sit fourth in the Western Conference.
The Kings have won both meetings against the Canucks this season, outscoring them by a combined score of 6-2.
Captain Dustin Brown leads the team with 2 goals and 1 assist in the two previous matchups. He has 4 points (2G-2A) in his last 5 games and is 3rd in team scoring with 43 points (20G-23A).
Sunday, March 6, 2011 vs. Anaheim Ducks (5:00 PM start, away)
The Canucks are in Anaheim for the second game of a back-to-back. The Ducks are fighting for a playoff spot and currently sit 11th in the Western Conference, only 2 points back of the 8th playoff spot. They’ve been up and down all month, winning 4 games in a row at one point and then losing 5 in a row. They beat the Colorado Avalanche last night.
Getzlaf and company are 2-0-1 against the Canucks this season. Don’t get the wrong idea, all 3 games have been very close and decided by one goal.
In just 3 games against the Canucks, Getzlaf and his balding head has a goal, 5 assists and a plus-3 rating. In their last meeting, Getzlaf had a questionable hit on Dan Hamhuis, which resulted in Hamhuis missing some games due to a concussion. Although Getzlaf missed some games due to injuries earlier this season, he is still 4th in team scoring with 48 points (15G-33A).
Should We Be Worried?
It’s hard to look at the standings, see the Canucks leading the league, and describe their play as inconsistent. But when you look at their last 9 games, they’ve alternated between wins and losses. That said, should we be worried? Absolutely NOT!
Sure the Canucks haven’t posted consecutive wins in 3 weeks, but let’s not overlook that in 4 of 5 losses, they were only been beaten by a single goal. Let’s also not forget that the Canucks have had a handful of injuries on the backend, which means that a lot more pressure has been placed on our top players. Like Mike Gillis said yesterday on HNIC Afterhours, the team is just physically and mentally fatigued. So before you jump off the side of the bandwagon, think about this: don’t you want the inconsistency now instead of in April?