[Every Monday, Katie Maximick takes your questions and gives her take on the Canucks in her own cantankerous style. If you have any questions about the Canucks, send it to her via Twitter (@canucksgirl44)]
Another week passes and the Canucks are still on top of the NHL. With Vancouver playing 5 games in 7 nights, it’s been a busy and exciting week for fans. Now the team is preparing for a five-game road trip beginning Tuesday in New York, and Canucks fans are wondering how their team is going to do.
Taryn (@taryneliza_beth) asks: Predictions for the upcoming road trip? What would an acceptable record be? 4-1? 3-1-1?
Here’s the road trip schedule (Caylie has the previews):
Tue, Jan. 11th Canucks @ Islanders (13-21-6)
Thu, Jan. 13th Canucks @ Rangers (25-15-3)
Fri, Jan. 14th Canucks @ Capitals (24-12-6)
Sun, Jan. 16th Canucks @ Wild (21-16-5)
Tue, Jan. 18th Canucks @ Avalanche (21-15-6)
Vancouver’s record is 27-8-6 going into the road trip. Surprisingly the team with the hottest streak that VAN will be playing is the team with the worst overall record – the Islanders, who are 7-3-0 in their last 10 games. The Avs have the worst with 3-5-2. That being said, I’d expect the 3-1-1 record to be the most realistic. I know Vancouver is the best team in the NHL right now, but they’re going to lose some games and will likely do so on the road. The Canucks’ away record is 12-5-3, so is it really that unrealistic to think they could lose 2 of the 5 games ahead? I don’t think so, but it’d be nice to walk away with 4 (or even 5) wins.
Ozzy (@bher_ga) asks: Who’s the MVP so far this season? And the unsung hero?
MVP? So far, Ryan Kesler. It’s only the beginning of January and Kesler is already only 3 goals away from bettering his career-high of 26 goals. He’s also producing at a nearly point-per-game clip with 40 points in 41 games. He’s a plus-17, the highest on the team, and uses his size to make room in front of the net for scoring chances. Sure, the Sedins have more points than Kesler, but I think it’s Kesler’s drive, grit and passion out on the ice that will really help the Canucks make it far in the playoffs.
Unsung hero is a bit harder. Right now I really like Keith Ballard. He had a really strong game against Detroit on Saturday, and considering the start to his season with limited ice time (perhaps due to AV’s bias, who knows) he’s impressed me lately and has been making really smart plays. Coincidently he finally gets more ice time and starts making his presence known – take a hint, Vigneault. There’s also Kevin Bieksa who has risen from some adversity to become one of the team’s top defensemen. It wasn’t that long ago that he was the goat, and I for one was guilty of loathing every moment he spent on the ice for a couple seasons. I have to admit he’s had a great season, and I hope this isn’t just temporary behaviour in hopes that he gets re-signed with the team.
Kayli (@CanuckKayli13) asks: Do you believe the Canucks have what it takes to get past the second round and win the Cup this season? Why or why not?
Yes I definitely do. They have an amazing and incredibly deep roster of players who want the Cup and have been playing like they want the Cup all season. In my humble opinion, this is the year the Canucks have their best shot at the Stanley Cup since I’ve been watching hockey in 2002/2003 (which I know doesn’t say much, but hey it’s all I’ve got). What I think needs improvement in the playoffs is the coaching – not a big surprise coming from me if you’ve ever talked to me about Vigneault. AV’s been outcoached in the post-season every year and this needs to change, but from recent articles I’ve read, the players have mentioned AV and the Canucks’ coaching staff beginning to listen to the players more and are finally able to read the team’s needs. The coaching staff has apparently admitted to their faults and have been very aggressive in correcting them. If this is true, then maybe I don’t have as much to worry about this year.
Oh, except Luongo letting in 7 goals in a do-or-die game again. Let’s hope that’s all in the past.
On that note, keep your stick on the ice Canucks fans!