[Every Sunday, Caylie King looks at the Canucks week that was and the Canucks week ahead. You can follow Caylie on Twitter (@cayking).]
79 GP, 52-18-9, 113 points (1st in Northwest Division, 1st in Western Conference, 1st in NHL)
Remember earlier this season when people were saying that Alex Burrows was having an off season? Well, he now has 25 goals, 47 points and a plus-25 rating in 69 games. Burr scored the only goal against Edmonton and has 4 goals in his last 5 games.
Raffi Torres has 1 assist in his last 8 games. But although he has not been putting up huge numbers, he’s at least contributed in other ways. Raffi can turn a mediocre shift around with a big hit or an aggressive forecheck. It looks like this will be Raffi’s first full season in 3 years. He may even be a plus-player for the first time in 4 years. Especially in Manny’s absence, the Canucks will be counting on Raffi’s leadership and physical play to be a big part of their playoff run.
Tuesday, April 5, 2011 vs. Edmonton Oilers (6:00 PM start, away)
Having the worst record in the NHL didn’t stop the Edmonton Oilers from ending the Canucks’ 5-game winning streak on Saturday night, the first of a home-and-away, back-to-back between the two clubs. Before that, the Oilers had lost their last 11 games.
This is the last game of the season between the two teams. The Canucks lead the season series 4-1.
Jordan Eberle had a goal and an assist in the meeting on Saturday. In his rookie year, Eberle has 18 goals and 41 points – only 1 point behind team leaders, Taylor Hall, Sam Gagner and Ales Hemsky who all have 42 points.
Thursday, April 7, 2011 vs. Minnesota Wild (7:00 PM start, home)
The Wild’s season is pretty much over. They’re out of the playoff race, sitting in 11th place in the Western Conference, 10 points back of a playoff spot and only 4 games to go. Like the Oilers, the Wild players might not be playing for playoff position but they are playing for jobs next year. No doubt, they’ll play hard, play loose and would love to beat the number 1 team in the NHL.
This is the last game of the season series that Vancouver leads 3-2; the Canucks won the last meeting 4-2 in Minnesota where Ryan Kesler recorded his second game-winning goal against the Wild.
Andrew Brunette has 3 goals and 1 assist in 5 games played against the Canucks. He has 43 points (17G-26A) this season, which is good for fourth place in team scoring.
Saturday, April 9, 2011 vs. Calgary Flames (7:00 PM start, away)
As of right now, the Flames hopes of making it to the postseason are still alive. It’s a long shot and they’ll need a lot of help from the teams around them in the standings, but with 3 games left and being 3 points out of the 8th and last playoff spot in the Western Conference, it’ll be a small miracle if they manage to make it through. Calgary hasn’t really been helping their own cause with only 3 wins in their last 10 games.
The Canucks lead the season series, having won 4 of their previous 5 meetings. Special teams have been key; the Canucks have scored 7 powerplay goals against the Flames this season and have also killed off 16 of 17 penalties.
Surprisingly, 1000-point man Jarome Iginla has not scored a goal against the Canucks but he does have 4 assists. Even though the Flames haven’t had the best season, Iggy is still having an outstanding campaign with 39 goals and 80 points.
Is this the year?
The Canucks officially wrapped up the President’s Trophy this week, ensuring home ice advantage throughout the entire playoffs. What is more impressive is that when the Canucks got a little “p” beside their name in the standings, no other team in the West had clinched a playoff spot yet.
Not only are the Canucks the number 1 team in the league, but many of their personnel have a legitimate opportunity to win major hardware. Daniel Sedin looks likely to win the Art Ross and has a good chance to win the Hart as well. In my opinion, Ryan Kesler is the front-runner for the Selke. And coach Alain Vigneault should get some consideration for the Jack Adams.
While winning the first President’s Trophy in franchise history is huge accomplishment, we all know that unless Lord Stanley makes an appearance come June the season will be looked at as a failure. Canucks Nation truly believes that this is the best, most complete team we’ve ever seen. Now enough with the talk, let the playoffs begin!