[Every Sunday, Caylie King looks at the Canucks week that was and the Canucks week ahead. You can follow Caylie on Twitter (@cayking).]
76 GP, 50-17-9, 109 points (1st in Northwest Division, 1st in Western Conference)
Roberto Luongo is ranked 11th in games played in, yet he leads the league with 35 wins. He’s been playing some of his best hockey as of late, he himself says that he doesn’t know of a time where he has felt better. His positional play and “never give up” attitude has allowed him to shine.
Allow me to put his brilliance into perspective. Since January 1st of this year, Bobby Lou has not been pulled from a game and has only allowed more than 3 goals in a game ONCE, and the Canucks still got a point in that game. He is third in the NHL in both save percentage (.927) and goals against average (2.18).
His great play can be credited to a good team in front of him, both defensively and offensively, and also, stellar play by Cory Schneider, which has allowed Lou to have lots of rest and not be overworked. We hope the 20+ games rest he will have this regular season will help him to stay fresh and ready to go come playoff time.
Jannik Hansen has 1 assist in his last 9 games. Seems ever since Uncle Manny got hurt, both Hansen and Torres have not been as offensively threatening as they were when those 3 were meshing. Hansen has been part of the line juggling that AV is doing, experimenting to find that right combination for the bottom-six forwards. The Canucks don’t rely on Hansen’s scoring and his tireless work on the penalty kill is a big part of his game. But hopefully he can help to contribute more offensively.
Tuesday, March 29, 2011 vs. Nashville Predators (5:00 PM start, away)
The Predators have been on a roll as of late, riding a 6-game win streak and currently sitting in 6th place in the Western Conference.
This is the last meeting between these two teams; Nashville is leading the series 2-1.
Martin Erat has 4 points (1G-3A) and a plus-4 rating in the 3 games played so far against the Canucks. He also shares the team lead, in points (46), with team captain, Shea Weber.
The preview for this game is probably as boring as the game will be. Coach Barry Trotz loves to push results in low scoring, low excitement games. Buckle up, you’re in for a snooze-fest.
Thursday, March 31, 2011 vs. Los Angeles Kings (7:00 PM start, home)
The Kings are one of the teams in the heat of the playoff race position. They currently sit in 5th place in the Western Conference and have gone 7-1-2 in their last 10 games. They’ve won their last 3 straight games, however the last game saw them losing point leader, Anze Kopitar, who broke his ankle and is expected to be out at least 6 weeks.
Both Justin Williams and Dustin Brown have 3 points (2G-1A) against the Canucks this season. Williams and Brown are 2nd and 3rd in team scoring with 57 points and 52 points, respectively. Brown is also tied with Anze Kopitar with 25 goals.
Saturday, April 2, 2011 vs. Edmonton Oilers (7:00 PM, home)
The Oilers haven’t won a game after starting off the month of March with 3 straight wins; they have 1 win in their last 10 games.
Unfortunately, they’ve been hit hard by the injury bug all season long. For all intents and purposes, they’re just playing out the hockey season and preparing for next year.
The Canucks have won all 4 meetings against the Oilers; both Bobby Lou and Schneider have won 2 games each. The Canucks have outscored the Oilers by a combined score of 15-7 in their previous contests.
Andrew Cogliano has 3 assists against the Canucks this year. He has recorded a point in 4 of his last 6 games played. Cogliano and Tom Gilbert are the only 2 players on the team that have played the full 75 games. Cogliano has 32 points (11G-21A) this season.
In their last 4 games, the Canucks entered the third period without having been scored on. Despite that, Luongo and Schneider have a grand total of 0 shutouts to show for their efforts.
It’s pretty clear that the dynamic duo of Luongo and Schneider is one of the best goalie tandems in the league, however the Canucks seem to struggle to hold out on allowing that one goal. Superstitious fans blame it on all those tweeps and commentators saying the “S” word before the game is over. But the way I see it, shutouts are overrated. As long as we get the “W”.