[Every Sunday, Caylie King looks at the Canucks week that was and the Canucks week ahead. You can follow Caylie on Twitter (@CayKing).]
This past week was full of ups and downs. The Canucks came out flying against the Calgary Flames to start the month off right; they won decisively 5-1. They then followed it up with two of the most frustrating and disappointing games by the Canucks so far this season. Defensive zone break downs, not being able to capitalize on chances and an overall lackluster effort resulted in back-to-back losses against the Minnesota Wild and St. Louis Blues. Vancouver then rolled into the Madhouse on Madison, came out guns-a-blazing, and beat the rival Chicago Blackhawks 6-2. They had secondary scoring, the powerplay was unstoppable, and they got key saves at key times. Remember last week when I mentioned about seeing a more consistent team in November? Well, here’s hoping that their success in the Chicago game help turn things around for good.
15 GP, 7-7-1, 15 points (4th in Northwest Division, 10th in Western Conference)
After being moved to the 3rd line with the addition of David Booth and the consistent play of Cody Hodgson, Chris Higgins has shown signs of why he was once a 50-point guy in this league. Higgy has 3 goals and 1 assist in his last 5 games and is a plus-1 in that span. He is tied with Daniel Sedin in goals with 6 and his 4th in team scoring with 9 points. If he can continue his solid play, he will be an important asset to this team because we all know that secondary scoring is key to winning. One can also hope that his play will help to motivate and help Uncle Manny get out of his rut.
Unlike last season when he spent a lot of time in the press box, Keith Ballard seems to be getting much more opportunities this season. So far, we’ve witnessed his great skating abilities and his want to jump up on the rush. However, with only 1 goal, he doesn’t have much to show in terms of offense, and his play this might be taking away from his defensive play as he is currently a team worst minus-11. If he does not start to smarten up defensively, and with Aaron Rome back in the lineup and Alex Sulzer performing adequately, we might see him back in AV’s dog house sooner than later.
Thursday November 10, 2011 vs. Los Angles Kings (7:30 PM start, away)
The Canucks have a few days off before facing the Kings at Staples Center. Last year, the two teams split the season series. Goaltenders Roberto Luongo and Jonathan Quick each backstopped their respective teams to a couple of wins each.
The Kings are currently holding on to 8th place in the Western Conference and are being lead by sniper, Anze Kopitar, who has 7 goals and 9 assists in just 13 games. Last season, Kopitar only managed 1 assist in the season series; and captain Dustin Brown led the team with 3 points (2 goals and 1 assist). It’ll be key to focus on both players come Thursday night.
Friday November 11, 2011 vs. Anaheim Ducks (7:30 PM start, away)
The Ducks have been struggling as of late, going winless in their last 5 games (0-3-2). This will be the first meeting between the two teams this season and will certainly be an exciting matchup with the likes of Getzlaf, Perry, Ryan and the ageless Teemu Selanne again leading the Ducks.
Both teams won 2 games each in last season’s series. Ryan Getzlaf with 6 points (1G-5A) and Daniel Sedin with 7 points (4G-3A) led their respective teams in scoring.
Like the Canucks, the Ducks are off to a slow start but are getting solid contributions from their core players. 41-year old, Teemu Selanne is showing that age doesn’t matter and currently leads the team in points (14) and goals (5). The Ducks are also happy to see the return of number 1 goalie Jonas Hiller after he battled symptoms of vertigo for a few months last season which saw him play a limited 49 games.
Sunday November 13, 2011 vs. New York Islanders (6:00 PM start, home)
The Islanders started off the season well winning 3 of their first 4 games however since then they have gone 1-4-2 in their last 7 games. The Canucks won their only meeting last year against the Isles in a shootout; Ryan Kesler had the shootout winning goal. Blake Comeau had a goal, an assist and was a plus-2 in that game.
Considering the Islanders do not play many games against the Northwest Division they had a lot of success last season going 4-1-1, while outscoring their opponents 22-14.
John Tavares currently leads the team in scoring with 12 points (8G-4A). He also leads the league in powerplay goals with 4. Sunday will also mark the return of Michael Grabner who has come into his own on Long Island.
After losing Christian Ehrhoff this off season to the Buffalo Sabres, Canucks Nation was worried about who would pick up his offensive numbers. Ehrhoff was obviously a key player last year, putting up 50 points (14G – 36A) and a plus-19 rating.
This season, Alex Edler was expected to pick up some of the lost offense on the blueline, and so far, he has lived up to expectations. He is 3rd in team scoring with 15 points (3G-12A) in 15 games, including 8 points (3G -5A) in his last 5 games.
In contrast, the ‘Hoff only has 7 points (1G-6A) in 13 games. He is also a minus-6, which the worst plus/minus rating on the Sabres.
It’s still early in the season and I expect that Ehrhoff will have another solid campaign in Buffalo but I also expect to see a career year from Edler. Eddy’s poise on the backend and his ability to finish off plays, will hopefully be a big reason the Canucks go on a long playoff run again.