Canucks Review and Preview: October 31 to November 6, 2011
[Every Sunday, Caylie King looks at the Canucks week that was and the Canucks week ahead. You can follow Caylie on Twitter (@CayKing).]
11 GP, 5-5-1, 11 points (4th in Northwest Division, 11th in Western Conference)
This past week saw the Canucks suffering two losses, including being shutout for the third time this season. To the delight of Canucks Nation, the boys brought their A-game to Rogers Arena when the Capitals visited on Saturday. Don’t be fooled by the 7-4 score, the Canucks outplayed the Caps, Luongo made big saves when he needed too and most importantly we scored goals and got the win. Vancouver now heads out on a 6-game road trip, which will be a good opportunity for the team to bond.
Remember when we picked up Maxim Lapierre at the trade deadline last season and many Canucks fans were hesitant because of his reputation as a player who plays on the edge and has been questioned about his antics many times? Well this week I recognize Lappy for his tireless work ethic, aggressive forecheck and his ability to finish. He has 3 goals and 1 assist so far but after 11 games he has been one of, if not THE best and more consistent Canucks. His intensity is infectious and he undoubtedly gets the bench going. AV has said that on merit alone he could be playing more minutes on the 2nd or 3rd line. Max is the anchor of the 4th line and has been doing an excellent job leading by example. It’s always a bonus to have a shutdown fourth line that can contribute offensively.
Manny Malhotra’s leadership and presence in the locker room is undeniable. At one stage last year he didn’t even know if he could play hockey again. He had a rough off-season going through a few more procedures to repair his eye but he was deemed fit to start the season. Unfortunately, Uncle Manny hasn’t been as effective as he can be. He is a minus-7 through 11 games and has been splitting his time between the 3rd and 4th line due to overall fitness. He is such an important member of team and is invaluable in the faceoff circle but hopefully he will be able to pick up his game offensively and start finding the back of the net.
Tuesday, November 1, 2011 vs. Calgary Flames (6:30 PM start, away)
The Flames are last in the Northwest Division but will host the Canucks riding a two-game win streak. It is the first meeting of the season between these two teams and will certainly be an exciting matchup as they renew rivalries.
The Flames, 2-0 against the Northwest this year, are being lead by Alex Tanguay who has 8 points (1G-7A) in 9 games and has recorded a points in 3 of his last 5 games.
The Canucks went 5-0-1 last year against Calgary and hope for much of the same this season.
Thursday, November 3, 2011 vs. Minnesota Wild (5:00 PM start, away)
Sami “Balls of Steel” Salo scored the OT winner against the Wild in their last meeting a few weeks ago. The Wild currently have the same number of points as the Canucks(11P) but hold a game in hand.
Dany Heatley was Minnesota’s big acquisition and he is living up to the hype by leading the team with 7 points (3G-4A). It’s no secret the Wild are a defensive-minded team so don’t be surprised if there isn’t much excitement between the two.
Friday, November 4, 2011 vs. St. Louis Blues (5:00 PM start, away)
The St. Louis Blues handed the Canucks their 3rd shutout of the season just last week, led by none other than Alex Steen who scored 2 goals. It was the battle of the backups at Rogers Arena, so it will be interesting to see who suits up for both clubs. Don’t forget this game is taking place in November, which means that Roberto Luongo should be coming into fine form.
Veteran Jason Arnott was a nice acquisition for the Blues this off-season. He has played in over 1,100 games and uses his size and skill to control the play and set up his teammates. He loves to stand in front of the net and now sits second in team scoring with 3 goals and 5 assists and is a plus-6.
Sunday, November 6, 2011 vs. Chicago Blackhawks (4:00 PM start, away)
It’ll be the first meeting between the two clubs since game 7 of round 1. How can we all forget Burrows’ clutch OT goal to end the Blackhawks’ recent playoff domination against the boys in blue? That being said, Chicago is having a great start to the season and are sitting in second place of the Western Conference.
It won’t take long for the bad blood to boil come Sunday and with the addition of Dan Carcillo and there will sure be a few scrums here and there. The Canucks and Blackhawks split last season 2-2, with Roberto Luongo starting in all 4 games. Here’s hoping that we don’t have to hear Chelsea Dagger over and over and over and over again.
October is over, now the real season starts
The Canucks and Roberto Luongo have been known to be a slow starting team with mediocre records during the month of October. That added with the fact that we had a short off-season and AV deciding not to use the regulars very much during the preseason, and November seems to be the time when the Canucks start getting into their groove.
The hope is that the new month sees the Canucks start to play more consistently in all departments. They need to see more consistent production from the top two lines, the defence needs to sort out their miscommunications, and most importantly, Roberto Luongo needs to be better. I am not blaming our slow start purely on Luongo – the team in front of him haven’t been playing up to their standards either – but Luo needs to start showing why GMMG signed him to the huge contract that will have him here for the next decade. A return to form by the Vezina-nominated Luongo will have nothing but positive ripple effects to the rest of the team.