[Every Sunday, Caylie King looks at the Canucks week that was and the Canucks week ahead. You can follow Caylie on Twitter (@cayking).]
41 GP, 27-8-6, 60 points (1st in Northwest Division, 1st in Western Conference)
Ryan Kesler potted his second career hat-trick in a dominating 6-1 victory over the Oilers this past week. Kesler could be featured every week for his outstanding play this year. He has matured into one of the best all-round players in the NHL and is on pace to put up career numbers. He has 14 points in his last 10 games and has been outstanding in the faceoff circle.
After a career season, last year, Samuelsson has been struggling to get into his groove this season. He has been very tentative and we haven’t seen very many of those high quality scoring chances. He has 0 points in his last 7 games and is a -1. Like most players, if Sammy gets his confidence back we could see signs of the Sammy we know and love.
The Canucks play the first 4 games of a 5-game road trip this week. The first three games are against Eastern Conference foes; the Canucks have a 7-2-2 record this season against Eastern Conference teams.
Tuesday, January 11th, 2011 vs. New York Islanders (4:00 PM start, road)
The Canucks land in New York to face the Isles who are playing quality hockey, as of late. The Isles are 14th in the East but have a 7-2-1 record in their last 10 games and completed their latest Western Conference road trip with a 3-1 record. John Tavares has 7 points (4-3) in his last 4 games and leads the team with 28 points; he also has a -16 rating, the second-worst on the team. In fact, the Isles’ top-5 scorers have a combined plus/minus rating of -49.
Thursday, January 13th, 2011 vs. New York Rangers (4:00 PM start, road)
On Thursday, the Canucks have a date with the Rangers at world-renowned Madison Square Garden. The Rangers are right in the middle of the playoff race and are 6-2-2 in their last 10 games. They are currently riding a 3-game win streak. Brandon Dubinsky leads the team with 36 points (16 G – 20 A) and plays more minutes than any other Rangers forward.
Friday, January 14th, 2011 vs. Washington Capitals (4:00 PM start, road)
After losing 8 straight games in December, the Capitals have been on a roll lately, gaining points in 9 of their last 10 games (6-1-3). Although Alexander Ovechkin has not played spectacular this season, he’s started to heat up and has 5 points in his last 5 games. OV8 is always a threat with his killer snap shot and his bruising hits. The Caps are ranked third on the penalty-kill, which should be a good test for the top-ranked Canucks powerplay.
Sunday, January 16th, 2011 vs. Minnesota Wild (3:00 PM start, road)
It’s a battle between Northwest Division foes. The Canucks and the Wild split their 2 previous meetings this year. The Wild are 7-2-1 in their last 10 games and are currently on a 4-game winning streak (though they’re trailing the Dallas Stars as we speak). They went into Pittsburgh last night and pounded the Crosby-less Penguins by a 4-0 score. Martin Havlat has 7 points in his last 6 games and leads the team in scoring with 38 points (10 G – 28 A).
Positive Trend: Goaltending
Roberto Luongo has been playing some of his most consistent hockey while staying fresh and focused. Some may say that it is because he has a stronger team in front of him but the competition between him and back up goalie, Cory Schneider, makes watching every game exciting. Both Luo and Schneids boast an impressive 8-0-2 record in their last 10 games played.