Caylie King

Feb 042013
 

Nail Yakupov, Edmonton Oilers

I think we’re finally starting to see signs of life from our Vancouver Canucks.

They played this week with some consistency, a lot of physicality, and while they still can’t put the puck in the net as much as they’d like, it’s helped them to a 2-0-1 record.

They started the week with a heartbreaking shootout loss to the LA Kings. The Canucks built a 2-0 lead, but couldn’t convert on the powerplay to put the Kings away, allowing the Kings to come back and steal the game in the shootout.

On Wednesday, the Canucks continued their dominance against the Colorado Avalanche with a tidy, 60-minute effort, Roberto Luongo’s 61st career shutout, and a 3-0 win.

On Friday, they faced the rival Chicago Blackhawks. After an intense lead up, most expected a physical and ugly game, but none of the rough stuff materialized. By the end of it, the Canucks didn’t exact their revenge on Duncan Keith and instead came away with the 2 points. Jordan Schroeder experienced his first big NHL moment as he snuck one past Corey Crawford’s five-hole for the shootout winner in his first shootout attempt.

Record

8 GP, 4-2-2, 10 points (1st in Northwest Division, 3rd in Western Conference)

Who’s Next

Monday, February 4, 2013 at Edmonton Oilers (6:30 PM start)

After being named the NHL’s 3rd Star of the Week, Roberto Luongo will get his 4th consecutive start in goal. Bobby Luo has looked like vintage Luo of late. With great positional play and timing, he seems to be making key saves at key times.

The Oilers, who currently sit in 2nd place in the Northwest Division, won the two teams’ first meeting back in January, so look for the Canucks to come out strong and get some payback.

Sam Gagner (3G-6A) and Taylor Hall (2G-7A) are both tied for the team lead with 9 points. Rookie sensation and the master of cellys, Nail Yakupov, leads the team with 5 goals.

Thursday, February 7, 2013 at Minnesota Wild (5:00 PM)

With the huge off season acquisitions of Ryan Suter and Zach Parise, the Minnesota Wild have their sights set on competing for the Northwest division title. Mike Rupp, acquired today from the NY Rangers, will add some veteran savvy and toughness and will join his new team for this game.

Zach Parise leads the team in goals (5) and points (9) in 8 games played.

The Canucks took 10 of a possible 12 points (4-0-2) against the Wild last season. They were led by Daniel Sedin’s 10 points (3G-7A) and plus-2 rating. Kyle Brodziak and Devin Setoguchi led the Wild with 2 goals and 2 assists each.

Saturday, February 9, 2013 vs. Calgary Flames (7:00 PM)

As of this writing, the Flames sit last in the Western Conference, to the surprise of no one, except maybe the Flames.

This will be the second meeting between the two clubs. Two weeks ago at Rogers Arena, the Canucks won in a shootout, paced by Zack Kassian, who scored a goal and the shootout winner.

Alex Tanguay leads the team with 6 points, but it has been the play of Jiri Hudler that has Flames fans excited. Hudler was brought in for top-6 production and he has done exactly that with 5 points (2G-3A) in just 3 games played.

Jan 282013
 

The season didn’t quite start the way Vancouver Canucks fans expected as the Canucks got thumped 7-3 in their season opener against the Anaheim Ducks last week. Rust, timing and lack of execution were clearly evident, but as the week went along the Canucks seemed to start putting in better efforts.

They did lose in the shootout against the young and talented Edmonton Oilers before winning in the shootout against the Calgary Flames. In that win against the Flames, the Canucks were led by one of their best players in the early season – Zack Kassian, who scored a goal on the shootout so dirty and so slick that I think Miika Kiprusoff is still looking for his jockstrap.

A couple of days later, the Canucks redeemed themselves against the Ducks. They went into Anahiem, who was hosting their first home game, and won decisively by a 5-0 score. This game was by far their best of the five they’ve played to-date – they played with a lot of physicality, scored some beautiful and gritty goals, and were buoyed by an excellent goaltending performance from Cory Schneider.

The Canucks then ended the week in San Jose, where they couldn’t take advantage of Ryane Clowe’s meltdowns and numerous powerplay advantages, and couldn’t find any puck luck from the hockey gods (5 posts!) en route to a 4-1 loss.

Who’s Next

Monday, January 28, 2013 at Los Angles Kings (7:30 PM start)

Roberto Luongo will get the start in the building where he lost his starting position in last years playoffs. This will be Bobby Lu’s second start of the season.

With just one win in their first 4 games (1-2-1), the Kings might be experiencing the infamous Stanley Cup hangover. Their official Twitter account may have picked up right from where they left off last season, but the Kings themselves are still struggling to put some wins together.

In the last regular season, the Canucks went 2-1-1 against the Kings. Captain Hank Sedin had 4 points (1G-3A) in 3 games while Anze Kopitar led LA with 4 points in 4 games.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013 vs. Colorado Avalanche (7:00 PM)

This past summer, Gabriel Landeskog was named the Avs’ youngest captain in franchise history. It’s unknown if Landeskog will be in the lineup on Wednesday as he’s still feeling the effects of a big hit he took from Brad Stuart of the Sharks.

Newcomer PA Parenteau has fit right into the Avs system with 2 goals, 1 assist and a team-best plus-4 in 4 games.

The Canucks had Colorado’s number last year, winning all 6 games in the season series. Luongo was in goal for 4 of those wins; Schneider was in net for 2. Hank, Jannik Hansen, Chris Higgins and Kevin Bieksa all had 5 points each against the Avs last season.

Friday, February 1, 2013 vs. Chicago Blackhawks (7:00 PM)

Canucks fans have had this Friday night meeting against the Blackhawks circled on their calendar since the schedule was released. The rivalry between these two teams speaks for itself, and these matchups are always some of the most entertaining – and most heated – games of the NHL season. Not like the Canucks need more motivation, but the Blackhawks, having won all of their first 6 games, are one the hottest teams in the league. This will also be the first time that the Canucks will meet Duncan Keith after Keith’s dirty elbow put Daniel out of action at the end of last season. It’s an interesting subplot and we’ll see if anything comes out of it.

Patrick Kane currently leads the ‘Hawks with 9 points (2G-7A) and Marian Hossa leads them with 5 goals.

Last season, the Canucks were 2-1-1 against Chicago. Kane and Hossa led the Hawks with 4 points each in the season series while Hank Sedin had 6 points in their 4 meetings.

Jan 182013
 

The Sedins and Alex Burrows celebrate a goal against the Anaheim Ducks.

Photo credit: CBC.ca

Not many of us hockey fans thought we would see an NHL game this season, but thankfully, the NHL and NHLPA finally came to their senses, agreed on a new CBA, and we can finally get back to talking, complaining and chirping about our teams and rivalries.

Though I’ll be honest and say that I’m not sure what Vancouver fans are more excited about: seeing the boys back in action or being able to buy all the hotdogs, popcorn and pop they want for only a $1 each, at least during the Canucks’ first 3 home games. I’m going to say it’s a pretty close race.

Who’s Next

Saturday, January 19, 2013 vs. Anaheim Ducks (home game, 7:00 PM start time)

The Canucks and the Anaheim Ducks split 4 games last season, each team winning 2 games. Cory Schneider and Jonas Hiller backstopped their respective teams in those wins.

It should be an interesting season for the Ducks. Both Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf are entering the final year of their contracts and both will become unrestricted free agents at the end of the season. Saku Koivu, Teemu Selanne and Bobby Ryan are also in the top-six, but other than that, the Ducks have a lot of young players who will try to earn a spot and stick around in a tough shortened season. The Ducks did get bigger and stronger with the additions of Sheldon Souray, Bryan Allen, Daniel Winnik and Brad Staubitz.

Henrik Sedin led the Canucks with 5 points (1G-4A) and a plus-7 rating in the season series. Bobby Ryan led the Ducks with 7 points (2G-5A), but was a minus-3 in those matchups.

Sunday, January 20, 2013 vs. Edmonton Oilers (home game, 6:00 PM)

It’s clear that the Edmonton Oilers know how to win…. the first overall pick in drafts.

Kidding aside, the Oilers, for the third consecutive year, won the right to draft first overall in the NHL Entry Draft and used it to select Russian phenom, Nail Yakupov. Because of their talented, young core, which also includes Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle and prized free agent-signing, Justin Schultz, many feel this is the time they start making a push in the NorthWest Division.

Now, many Canucks fans were disappointed that the BC-born Schultz decided to sign with Edmonton last summer, but hey, the Canucks just signed Jim Vandermeer and Cam Barker – don’t worry guys, we got this.

The Canucks won 5 of the 6 games last season against the Oilers. Alex Burrows led the Canucks with 8 points (3G-5A) while Eberle and Hall both led the Oilers with 6 points each.

Wednesday, January 24, 2013 vs. Calgary Flames (home game, 7:00 PM)

The Calgary Flames boosted their forwards with the additions of Roman Cervenka and Jiri Hudler, both of whom are welcome additions to a team that finished 24th overall in the league in scoring. They also added defenseman Dennis Wideman, who scored 11 goals and 46 points last season, by signing him to a hefty 5-year contract worth $26.5 million.

Turning 36 years old this season, it will be interesting to see how many games Flames workhorse, Miikka Kiprusoff, will get, especially since the schedule of this tough shortened season demands a lot of games in a short amount of time. Personally, because he’s in my hockey pool, I’m hoping he starts all 48 games.

The Canucks were 3-2-1 against the Flames last season. Alex Edler led all Canucks skaters with 6 points (1G-5A) while Mike Cammalleri, who was traded from the Montreal Canadiens back to the Flames in January, scored 4 goals in just 3 games played against the Canucks.

Friday, January 25, 2013 at Anahiem Ducks (away game, 7:00 PM)

Since this will be the second meeting between the two teams, I thought this would be a good time to bring up something that everyone notices, but not many people talk about – can we please address the unfortunate balding of Ryan Getzlaf? Great player, pretty good looking, bad genetics. Poor guy.

Sunday, January 27, 2013 vs. San Jose Sharks (away game, 5:00 PM)

The San Jose Sharks are always one of the top teams in the Western Conference. Well, at least they are during the regular season. With the likes of Joe Thornton, Joe Pavelski, Patrick Marleau, Martin Havlat, Logan Couture and Dan Boyle, the Sharks have a solid core group of players. Plus, this summer, they added some grit by signing Adam Burish and some veteran stability on the backend by signing ex-Wing, Brad Stuart.

The Canucks were able to get 7 out of a possible 8 points against the Sharks last season; their lone loss in the series came in the shootout. Kevin Bieksa led the Canucks with 4 assists in 4 games. Couture and Mini Joe each had 4 points for the Sharks.

Apr 092012
 

With the first round series between the Vancouver Canucks and Los Angeles Kings scheduled to start on Wednesday, here is a brief look at the season series between the two teams.

In the Regular Season

The Canucks won the season series against the Kings, but just barely. They took 5 of 8 points (2-0-1 record); the Kings took 4 of 8 points (2-2-0).

November 10, 2011: Vancouver Canucks 3 @ LA Kings 2

In their first meeting of the season, the Canucks raced to a 3-goal lead in the first period. A Trevor Lewis elbowing major and Drew Doughty cross-check gave the Canucks a 5-on-3 powerplay early in the first period. On the two-man advantage, Sami Salo wired a shot from the point and beat Jonathan Quick. Then, with the team still on the powerplay, Andrew Ebbett deflected the puck off of Wille Mitchell to give them a 2-0 lead. For good measure, Aaron Rome got his 2nd goal – in just his second game of the season – which would eventually stand the game-winner.

The Kings mounted a small rally. Doughty got the Kings on the board midway through the second period with a slap shot from the side boards. And with time winding down in the third period and Quick on the Kings bench for an extra attacker, Mike Richards scored on a deflection to cut the Canucks’ lead to 3-2 and make things interesting. However, this is as close as they would come as Roberto Luongo recorded the win.

December 31, 2011: Vancouver Canucks 1 @ LA Kings 4

With 6 wins in 7 games, the Canucks had a great opportunity to end 2011 on a positive note with a New Year’s Eve meeting in LA. But after the Canucks scored an early goal, just 3 minutes into the game, they let the lead slip away and the Kings went on to score 4 unanswered goals.

Bieksa scored the lone Canucks goal, finishing off a good pass and play from Henrik and Daniel Sedin. Bieksa’s marker was in the midst of a season-high, 7-game point streak in which he had 8 points (1G-7A). From December 15 to January 7, Bieksa had 12 points (2G-10A) in 12 games.

Brad Richardson, Matt Greene, Anze Kopitar and Justin Williams scored for the Kings. Kopitar’s goal came after the Canucks couldn’t capitalize on a 4-minute powerplay courtesy of a Mike Richards double-minor for high-sticking. As Richards came out of the penalty box, the Kings went 3-on-2 going the other away and Kopitar cut across the crease and backhanded the puck past Luongo.

On this night, the Canucks struggled painfully to clear the zone. And when they did, they just couldn’t generate enough sustained pressure to beat a strong Jonathan Quick.

January 17, 2012: LA Kings 3 @ Vancouver Canucks 2 (SO)

In their third meeting of the season, the Canucks and Kings traded a couple of goals each before the Kings eventually won in the shootout.

First, it was Dustin Penner who deflected a Drew Doughty shot and scored the game’s first goal. Then, Daniel Sedin scored a powerplay goal early in the second period to tie up the game. Late in the second period, while on a powerplay, Justin Williams pounced on a juicy Willie Mitchell rebound to give the Kings a 2-1 lead. David Booth then tied things up in the third period, converting on a beautiful cross-crease pass from Jannik Hansen. Mike Richards recorded the shootout winner.

March 26, 2012: LA Kings 0 @ Vancouver Canucks 1

The fourth and final meeting of the regular season may very well be the most accurate preview of the two teams’ first round playoff series.

Manny Malhotra opened the scoring just 3 minutes into the game by streaking down the left win and wristing a nice shot off the post and past Jonathan Quick. From that point on, it was a tight and low scoring affair.

The Canucks in particular went into a defensive shell the rest of the night. They mustered a mere 25 shots on Quick with 13 of them coming in the third period. Roberto Luongo was huge, stopping all 38 Kings shots.

Who’s Hot: Canucks

Before Daniel suffered a concussion in March, Henrik was struggling and had just 4 assists during a stretch of 12 games. However, since then, Captain Hank has stepped up and finished with 11 points (1G-10A) in his last 8 games. Just as important, he has stated that he is feeling more confident and wants the puck more.

With 81 points (14G-67A) in 82 games, Henrik led the Canucks and all Western Conference skaters in the regular season. Especially with Daniel’s status unknown (though he did skate in practice this morning), it’s no secret his production will be critical to the team’s success during this playoff run.

Who’s Not: Canucks

After surgery in the off-season, Ryan Kesler, last year’s 41-goal scorer and Selke Trophy winner finished the 2011/2012 regular season with 22 goals and 49 points in 77 games – a far cry from his 73 points last season and 75 points the season before that – including a woeful 2 assists in his last 12 games.

There seems to be little doubt among the Canucks faithful that Kes will find his beast mode once post-season play begins.

Here’s hoping.

Who’s Hot: Kings

It’s hard to imagine where the Kings would be without Jonathan Quick’s play this season. Once thought to be expendable because of the play of Jonathan Bernier – sound familiar, Canucks fans? – Quick should be a Vezina candidate and is easily the the Kings’ MVP.

Quite simply, Quick has been a rock in net for LA. He has a 35-21-13 record, a league-high 10 shutouts, a 0.929 save percentage and a goals against average of 1.95. He doesn’t give up much during each game so taking advantage of offensive opportunities will be key for the Canucks. He’s managed to earn the Kings at least a point in 10 of his last 12 starts, going 8-2-2 to finish off the season.

Who’s Not: Kings

Dustin Penner has been a huge disappointment for the Kings this season. His 17 points (7G-10A) in 65 games are his worst season totals, not including his 2005/2006 season in which he 7 points in 19 games. In his last 23 games, Pancakes has just 4 points (2G-2A).

Apr 032012
 

[Every week, Caylie King reviews the Canucks week that was and previews the Canucks week ahead.  You can follow Caylie on Twitter (@CayKing).]

With a season-high 6-game win streak, including consecutive shutouts against the Los Angeles Kings and Colorado Avalanche last week, the Canucks have obviously turned the corner. They also finished last week with a decisive 5-2 win against the Dallas Stars and an OT win against the Calgary Flames, in which Andrew Ebbett returned from injury and scored the game-winning goal in OT, and overtook the St. Louis Blues for first place in the Western Conference.

The Canucks will finish their regular season this week against three teams that are out of the playoff race: Anaheim Ducks, Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers.

Canucks Record

79 GP, 49-21-9, 107 points (1st in Northwest Division, 1st in Western Conference)

Who’s Next

Tuesday, April 2, 2012 vs. Anaheim Ducks (7:00 PM start, home)

Will tonight mark Teemu Selanne’s last time visit to Vancouver? We’re still not sure. At 41, he could very well retire; but as the Ducks’ leading scorer (26G-39A-65P), he has proven that he could still be a force in this league. A well-respected, shoe-in Hall-of-Famer, many Ducks – many hockey fans – are hoping he’d come back and play one more year.

The Ducks have won 2 of the previous 3 meetings against the Canucks. In the season series, Bobby Ryan leads the Ducks with 4 points (2G-2A); Kevin Bieksa leads the Canucks with 4 points as well (1G-3A).

Even with the talent that the Ducks have on their roster, their play this year has been surprisingly inconsistent. They’ve lost 3 of their last 4 games.

Thursday, April 5, 2012 vs. Calgary Flames (6:00 PM start, away)

With their win on Saturday night, the Canucks eliminated the Calgary Flames from playoff contention, and have now won 3 of their 5 meetings this season. They’ve outscored the Flames by a combined score of 16-10 in those 5 games.

Jarome Iginla has 3 assists against the Canucks this season. Meanwhile, Alex Edler leads all Canucks skaters with 6 points (1G-5A) against the Flames.

Olli Jokinen has had a solid season this year. With 23 goals and 28 assists, he is having his best season, statistically, since the 2007-2008 campaign.

Saturday, April 7, 2012 vs. Edmonton Oilers (7:00 PM start, home)

The Oilers have lost 3 of their last 4 games and sit in 14th place in the Western Conference and 29th place in the entire NHL.

The Canucks have won 4 of their 5 previous meetings against the Oilers this season. In their season series, Jordan Eberle leads the Oilers with 6 points (2G-4A) while Alex Burrows leads the Canucks with 7 points (3G-4A).

As bad as this season has gone for Edmonton, Jordan Eberle has had a sensational year. In just his second NHL season, he leads the team in goals (33), assists (42) and points (75).

The Oilers will be without Taylor Hall – he is done for the season due to shoulder surgery.

Who’s Hot

Chris Higgins has been one of the most, if not the most, consistent Canuck this season. With 4 goals in his last 5 games, he now has 42 points for the season (17G-25A), which would mark his best offensive season since his 2007-2008 season in Montreal (27G-25A-56P).

Higgy leads by example on the ice and makes his linemates better. Recently, he’s found some chemistry on the 3rd line with Samme Pahlsson and Jannik Hansen, and that line has proved to be able to make some big plays on both ends of the ice.

Who’s Hotter

With Daniel Sedin out with a concussion, AV decided to give Max Lapierre a shot on the “1st line” with Henrik Sedin and Alex Burrows. At first glance, this seemed like a confusing decision, but much like when he originally put Burrows on the Sedins’ line, AV’s logic worked and the move has sparked Lapierre’s play.

After not recording a point in 15 games, Lappy is on a 2-game point streak and has scored 2 goals and 3 assists in his last 4 games. It’s nice to see him take advantage of his opportunity and increase in ice time.

Mar 262012
 

[Every week, Caylie King reviews the Canucks week that was and previews the Canucks week ahead.  You can follow Caylie on Twitter (@CayKing).]

The Vancouver Canucks started off their recently-concluded 4-game road trip by being shutout 2-0 against the Minnesota Wild. Cory Schneider played a solid game in Minnesota but the team in front of him just couldn’t bury the puck.

Then, after trying to find their game for well over a month, the Canucks seemed to turn the corner against rival Chicago Blackhawks. Unfortunately, it was a dirty, cheap Duncan Keith elbow on Daniel Sedin that ignited the fire. Keith, of course, was suspended for 5 regular season games, but at this point in the season, we can only hope and pray that Daniel makes a full recovery.

With Daniel out indefinitely, the Canucks beat the Dallas Stars 2-1 (backstopped by another solid effort by Schneider) and came back from a 2-0 deficit to beat the playoff-hungry Colorado Avalanche.

Canucks Record

75 GP, 45-21-9, 99 points (1st in Northwest Division, 2nd in Western Conference)

Who’s Hot

For his lackluster play, Mason Raymond was scratched 4 games ago.

Message received.

Since watching the Wild game from the press box, May Ray has responded positively and has made the most of his opportunity replace Daniel Sedin and playing on the top line with Henrik Sedin.

He’s scored in consecutive games and has been noticeable in his last 3 games. He’s using his speed, he’s shooting the puck, and he’s getting himself to the front of the net.

Who’s Not

Max Lapierre is pointless in his last 15 games and he hasn’t scored in his last 21 games. Maybe it’s because he had a scorching start to the season, but his lack of production recently has been noticeable.

At least, Lappy is still a big part of the 4th line and still gets under the skin of the opposing players. He’s not known for his offensive prowess, but it would be nice for him to chip in the odd offense once in a while.

Who’s Next

Monday, March 26, 2012 vs. Los Angeles Kings (7:00 PM start, home)

The Los Angeles Kings roll into Rogers Arena having won 6 of their last 7 games; their minor speed bump game was a 4-2 loss to the Boston Bruins last Saturday. The Kings are one of 5 teams engaged in a heated battle for one of the final two playoff spots in the Western Conference. They are currently holding onto the 8th playoff spot as of today.

The Kings will look to win the season serious against the Canucks as they play for the final time this regular season; the Kings have won 2 of the 3 previous meetings.

Anze Kopitar leads all Kings skaters with 4 points (1G-3A) in the season series. He’s hit the scoresheet in 10 of his last 13 games (7G-7A-14P). He also leads the Kings this season in goals (24), assists (41) and points (65).

Wednesday, March 28, 2012 vs. Colorado Avalanche (7:00 PM start, home)

The Canucks and Colorado Avalanche met just three days ago as the Canucks came back from a 2-0 deficit and won 3-2 in overtime. Like the Kings, they are among the 5 teams with a realistic chance of snagging one of the two final playoff spots in the Western Conference. The Avs are currently tied in points for the final spot, but sit in 10th place due to having played more games than the teams above them.

The Canucks will look to sweep the season series; they’ve won all 5 previous meeting between the two teams.

Jannik Hansen, Kevin Bieksa and Henrik Sedin all have 5 points against the Avs. David Jones, Milan Hejduk and Paul Stastny all have 2 points in the season series. Also, newly-acquired Jamie McGinn was quite noticeable for the Avs in Saturday’s match-up. He’s been a huge pickup for the team, and as some analysts say, one of the biggest impact trade deadline impact acquisitions in the league; in his last 11 games in an Avs jersey, he has 12 points (8G-4A).

Friday, March 30, 2012 vs. Dallas Stars (7:00 PM start, home)

By virtue of leading the Pacific Division, the Dallas Stars are currently occupy 3rd place in the tight Western Conference. However, if they falter at all in the next 7 games, they can just as easily find themselves in 7th place – or out of the playoffs altogether – as their division rivals Phoenix Coyotes are only a point behind and the Los Angeles Kings and San Jose Sharks are only 2 points back.

The Stars lead the season series 2-1; however, the Canucks won their last meeting on a Kevin Bieksa game-winner. Mike Ribeiro has 5 points (3G-2A) to pace the Stars, while while Chris Higgins has 4 points (1G-3A) to lead the Canucks.

Victoria native, Jamie Benn is having a career year in Dallas despite a few games this season. Already, he’s reached a career-high in goals (24), assists (35) and points (59). He is second in Dallas in team scoring.

Saturday, March 24, 2012 vs. Calgary Flames (7:00 PM start, home)

Currently 3 points out of the final playoff position in the Western Conference and with only 6 games left, the Calgary Flames’ playoff hopes are slimly alive. They made a similar push last season but ultimately fell short of a playoff spot.

Both teams have won 2 games each in the season series. Alex Tanguay leads all Flames skaters with 2 goals, while David Booth leads the Canucks with 5 poitns (2G-3A).

It’s no surprise that Captain Jarome Iginla is having another solid campaign and is leading the Flames in goals (31) and points (62). Iggy has reached the 30-goal plateau in his last 11 seasons.

Mar 192012
 

[Every week, Caylie King reviews the Canucks week that was and previews the Canucks week ahead.  You can follow Caylie on Twitter (@CayKing).]

The Canucks head out for a 4-game road trip this week. After a lacklustre 3-4 homestand, including this past week’s 5-4 loss to the Phoenix Coyotes, in which they blew an early 2-goal lead, and 4-3 win against the Columbus Blue Jackets. In the game against the Blue Jackets, the Canucks got off to a slow start, but fueled by the fans, who were loud and involved throughout the game, they turned it around and won thanks to some stellar play by the AMEX line, a couple of goals by Daniel Sedin and a Bobby Orr-like rush and goal by Alex Edler.

Canucks Record

71 GP, 43-20-8, 94 points (1st in Northwest Division, 2nd in Western Conference)

Who’s Hot

After seemingly taking a while to get back into his groove after his knee injury, David Booth is currently riding a 3-game point streak (2G-1A-3P).

Speaking of which, Booth shed some light on his knee injury on Saturday. He told Scott Oake that it was more serious than thought, and that he actually fractured his knee, which resulted in a longer recovery time.

Well, his hard work looks to be paying off and Booth has nicely complemented Ryan Kesler and Chris Higgins on the AMEX line.

Who’s Not

Since shutting out the St. Louis Blues in the 1st game of the Canucks’ 7-game homestand, Roberto Luongo has lost his last 4 starts. In those 4 games, he allowed 16 goals on 103 shots (0.844 save %).

While it’s easy to point the finger squarely at Luo, Canucks Nation needs to remember that the team in front of him has not played up to par in the last couple of months. No one is denying that he’s let in a few soft goals, but it’s not completely fair to place the blame for the not-so-successful homestand on him; he is the scapegoat far too often. In fact, before this homestand, Luo was the primary reason the Canucks have been able to stay near the top of the NHL standings; since sitting out the Boston game to the start of the homestand, he had a 10-3-4 record in 17 games and posted a 0.929 save %.

Who’s Next

Monday, March 19, 2012 vs. Minnesota Wild (5:00 PM start, away)

It’s hard to believe that the Minnesota Wild was leading almost halfway through the season. But after a 20-7-3 start, the Wild’s season has taken a turn for the worse. They’ve won just 9 games of their last 41 games – a 9-25-7 record – and now sit 14 points out of a playoff spot and in 28th place in the league. Their current losing streak is at 3 games and they have a 1-6-1 record in March.

This will be the 6th and final meeting between the two teams; Vancouver has won 4 of the previous 5 matchups.

In the season series, Daniel Sedin has feasted on the Wild this season with 10 points (3G-7A) to lead all skaters. Devin Setoguchi leads the Wild with 4 points (2G-2A).

Dany Heatley is leading the Wild in goals (20) and points (46) this season. However, he is also on pace for his worst season offensively, not including the 2003-2004 season where he only played 31 games.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012 vs. Chicago Blackhawks (5:00 PM start, away)

One of the greatest rivalries in the NHL will resume at the Madhouse on Madison as the Canucks and Chicago Blackhawks meet for the final time in the regular season. The Canucks lead the season series with 2 wins in their first 3 games. They have an 11-6-2 record against Central Division opponents this season.

Patrick Kane scored the game-winning goals for the Hawks in their only win against the Canucks back on November 16. Henrik Sedin leads the Canucks with 6 points (1G-5A).

Marian Hossa leads the Hawks in assists (42) and points (70). He’s recorded at least a point in 7 of his last 9 games (4G-7A-11P) and has 18 points (8G-10A) in his last 17 games.

Thursday, March 22, 2012 vs. Dallas Stars (5:30 PM start, away)

The Dallas Stars are currently on a 2-game losing streak, though prior to that, they went 10-0-1. They currently lead the Pacific Division – 1 point ahead of the San Jose Sharks – and sit in 3rd place in the Western Conference.

They’ve had a lot of success against Northwest Division opponents this season, posting a 12-3-0 record against them so far. This will be the 3rd meeting between the Canucks and Stars in just over 3 weeks with the Stars having won both previous meetings, including a decisive 5-2 win in their last meeting at Rogers Arena.

Mike Ribeiro leads all skaters in the season series with 5 points (3G-2A); Chris Higgins leads the Canucks with 4 points (1G-3A).

Loui Eriksson has 7 goals and 8 assists in his last 12 games. He leads the Stars in assists (40), points (65), and also has a team best plus-20 rating.

Saturday, March 24, 2012 vs. Colorado Avalanche (7:00 PM start, away)

Somewhat unexpectedly, the Colorado Avalanche are making a strong push for the post-season. Since acquiring Steve Downie from the Tampa Bay Lightning, they have a 10-3-1 record, including at least a point in their last 5 games (4-0-1). They currently sit in 7th place in a very competitive Western Conference, though teams below them have games in hand so anything can happen in their remaining 8 games.

The Avalanche will look for their first win against the Canucks this season. The boys in blue have dominated the season series, winning the first 4 games of the season series by a combined 15-3 score. Cory Schneider and Roberto Luongo each have a shutout against the Avs.

Rookie Gabriel Landeskog leads the Avs with 21 goals and is tied for second in points (47); he also has the best plus/minus rating on the team (plus-20).

Mar 132012
 

[Every week, Caylie King previews the Canucks week that was and reviews the Canucks week ahead.  You can follow Caylie on Twitter (@CayKing).]

The Canucks have lost 3 of their last 4 games and 5 of their last 7 games. Last Tuesday, potential first-round opponent Dallas Stars came into Rogers Arena and easily took two points away from the Canucks in a 5-2 win. On Thursday, the Canucks played one of their better games in a few weeks won an exciting 3-2 affair against the Winnipeg Jets. And then on Saturday, the Canucks started off well enough against the Habs before collapsing completely in the third period and losing 4-1.

Canucks Record

69 GP, 42-19-8, 92 points (1st in Northwest Division, 2nd in Western Conference)

Who’s Hot

Chris Higgins seems to have gotten over his battles with staph infections and has easily been one of the Canucks’ best and most consistent players in the last few weeks. He has 7 points (2G-5A) in his last 7 games and has been noticeable in every game. His hard forecheck and never-give-up attitude gives opposing teams a lot to handle. His hard work hasn’t gone unnoticed. Last week, coach Alain Vigneault reunited him with Ryan Kesler and David Booth, and he’s rejuvenated that line.

Who’s Not

The real question is, who hasn’t struggled recently?

Henrik Sedin has 0 points in his last 8 games and is a minus-3 in that stretch. Daniel Sedin has 1 assist in his last 8 games and is also a minus-3 in that stretch. The Sedins have been largely invisible, and while they seem to produce the odd good shift, they haven’t been nearly as consistent and are clearly struggling to find the back of the net.

Among the forwards, Alex Burrows has 1 goal in his last 11 games, Mason Raymond is goalless in 6 games, Jannik Hansen is goalless in 12 games, and Max Lapierre is pointless in 9 games.

In the back end, Alex Edler may have 2 goals in his last 3 games, but he’s really struggled on the defensive side of things. Against the Habs, he was running around and couldn’t settle down defensively. His play has considerably declined since the All-Star break and his mistakes on the ice have become evident and visible.

Who’s Next

Wednesday, March 14, 2012 vs. Phoenix Coyotes (7:00 PM start, home)

After posting a 10-0-1 record for the month of February, the Phoenix Coyotes have struggled in the month of March with just 1 win in 7 games (1-4-2). That said, they’re still holding on to the 7th place in the ultra-competitive Western Conference, and if the playoffs started today, they would face the Canucks in the first round.

This will be the fourth and last meeting of the regular season between the two clubs with the Canucks having won 2 of the first 3 meetings. In the season series, Keith Yandle leads the Coyotes with 2 points (1G-1A) and Ryan Kesler leads the Canucks with 3 points (1G-2A).

The Canucks have a 7-3-4 record against Pacific division opponents.

Radim Vrbata is tied for second in team scoring with 56 points (30G-26A) and has a team-best, plus-24 rating. He’s already set a career-high in goals and has tied his career best in points. He also leads the NHL with 10 game-winning goals for the season. However, like the rest of the Coyotes, he’s been cold recently and only has 1 assist in his last 5 games.

Saturday, March 17, 2012 vs. Columbus Blue Jackets (7:00 PM start, home)

Considering the Blue Jackets are in last place in the Western Conference, this could be a good game for the Canucks to get 2 points and regain some traction.

This is the two teams’ last meeting of the season with the Canucks holding a 2-0-1 record against the Blue Jackets in their first 3 games against each other. Cory Schneider was in net for both Canucks wins; Roberto Luongo recorded the shootout loss.

Rick Nash leads the Blue Jackets in goals (24) and points (47) for the season.

Mar 062012
 

[Every week, Caylie King reviews the Canucks week that was and previews the Canucks week ahead.  You can follow Caylie on Twitter (@CayKing).]

Despite taking 3 of a possible 6 points last week, it was a somewhat mediocre week for the Canucks as they won just 1 of their 3 games (1-1-1).

After losing in a shootout against the hot Phoenix Coyotes on Tuesday, the Canucks beat the St. Louis Blues on Thursday, in a battle of the top two teams in the Western Conference, at Rogers Arena. The game had all the feel of a great, defensive, playoff battle, including a lot of physical play and timely goals by Alex Burrows and Chris Higgins.

And then on Saturday against the Buffalo Sabres, they dug themselves a big, early hole – to be exact, a 3-0 hole in the first 5 minutes – before trying to battle back late and ultimately falling by a 5-3 score. The game was a mixture of poor defence, bad decisions, a few goals that Luongo would want back, and Zack Kassian’s coming out party.

Oh yeah… and that Cody Hodgson guy got traded at the start of the week.

Canucks Record

66 GP, 41-17-8, 90 points (1st in Northwest Division, 1st in Western Conference)

Who’s Hot

In just 3 games, Zach Kassian has shown Vancouver fans why Canucks management thought that he would be a perfect fit on this team. Certainly, he’s shown his versatility by being able to play on every line. On Saturday, against his old team, he scored a goal and an assist – his first 2 points as a Canuck.

He’s not afraid to throw the body and he has an impressive ability to control the puck along the boards and in the dirty areas. He’s mentioned that his idol growing up was Todd Bertuzzi and we don’t have to look far to see the similarities.

Kassian’s NHL career is only 30 games old, but he’s showing signs of fulfilling his potential to be good power forward in this league. And if he keeps showing what he’s shown us so far here in Vancouver, he could very well play an important role for the Canucks down the stretch and into the playoffs.

Who’s Not

Despite many fans’ expectations, Mason Raymond survived trade deadline day and remains a Canuck, at least for the time being. Unfortunately, he continues to struggle and will begin tonight’s game against the Stars on the fourth line.

We know he had what could have been a career-ending back injury, but it’s also hard to ignore that he has 3 points (2G-1A) in his last 15 games despite playing regular minutes in the top-six and the second PP unit.

Who’s Next

Tuesday, March 6, 2012 vs. Dallas Stars (7:00 PM start, home)

The Dallas Stars head into Vancouver just over a week after these two clubs’ first meeting of the season. In that game, Loui Eriksson handed the Canucks a loss in overtime. We also got the pleasure of seeing Vernon Fiddler poking fun at Kevin Bieksa’s “angry face”, which caused AV to have a giggling attack. To be honest, that was probably the best part of the game.

The Stars are battling for their playoff lives in a very competitive Western Conference. They currently occupy the 7th playoff spot in the West, but the 8th place San Jose Sharks are only 2 points back with 2 games in hand and the 9th place Los Angeles Kings are 3 points back with 1 game in hand. The Stars are going for a sweep of the Northwest Canadian teams, having already beaten the Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames in this road trip.

Victoria’s Jamie Benn was not in the lineup against the Canucks last week, but he will bring his size and finesse to this week’s matchup. Benn has 1 goal and 1 assist in his last 3 games, and although he’s missed 11 games this season, he is on pace for a career year in points. He is currently second in team scoring with 51 points (18G-33A) while boasting a plus-14 rating.

Thursday, March 8, 2012 vs. Winnipeg Jets (7:00 PM start, home)

It’s been a while since the Winnipeg Jets have come to play in Vancouver; the two clubs meet for the first and only time this season. The addition of the Jets was a great thing for hockey for Canada and they haven’t disappointed their great fans. They’re battling hard for a playoff spot and currently sit in 8th place in a very tight Eastern Conference.

Last year, the old Jets, the Atlanta Thrashers, went 2-4-0 against the Northwest Division; this season, the Jets have had more success. They have a 4-1-0 record against the Northwest so far and have outscored them by a combined 18-11 score so don’t be surprised if this is a high-scoring event.

Blake Wheeler is having a great season leading the Jets in assists (39), points (53) and plus/minus (+10 rating). He’s one of the hottest players in the NHL right now with at least a point in 9 of his last 11 games – he has 18 points (5G-13A) in that span.

Saturday, March 10, 2012 vs. Montreal Canadiens (7:00 PM start, home)

Currently in last place in the Eastern Conference, this has been a season to forget for les Montreal Canadiens. With 16 games left, they’re 10 points out of playoff spot and a woeful 2-7-1 in their last 10 games.

In their first meeting of the season in Montreal, the Canucks beat the Habs 4-3 in a shootout. Ex-Canuck Cody Hodgson led the way with a goal and the shootout winner, and Bobby Luo stopped 20 of 23 shots in regulation and OT, plus all 3 Habs shooters in the shootout. Erik Cole led the Habs with a goal and an assist.

Outside of Montreal, David Desharnais is still a relative unknown, but he has been a huge contributor for the Habs this season. All he’s done is lead the team in assists (37) and points (51). He also has their plus/minus rating (+10 rating). He is currently riding a 4-game point streak (3G-4A-7P).

Feb 282012
 

[Every week Caylie King reviews the Canucks week that was and previews the Canucks week ahead. You can follow Caylie on Twitter (@CayKing).]

The Canucks end a 6-game road trip in Phoenix tonight and then head back home for a 7-game home-stand. This isn’t the same team we saw a few days ago in Dallas. With the addition of Zack Kassian, the Canucks addressed their need for a big, physical bottom six forward. Unfortunately, the Cody Hodgson era is over here in Vancouver, but veteran center and Stanley Cup winner Sami Pahlsson will slot into the lineup and help in a defensive shutdown role.

Hopefully Canucks fans can put aside their emotional attachment to Cody and give Kassian and Pahlsson the chance to blossom here in Vancouver. Remember, Kassian is not here to replace Cody. He is here to address the need for size, grit and toughness. He has the potential to fit nicely into this lineup and prove that he belongs in this league.

Canucks Record

63 GP, 40-16-7, 87 points (1st in Northwest Division, 1st in Western Conference)

Who’s Next

Tuesday, February 28, 2012 vs. Phoenix Coyotes (6:00 PM start, away)

The Coyotes have been one of the hottest teams in the league recently; they have had a remarkable February so far, going 10-0-1 in their 11 games. They currently lead the Pacific Division and sit in 3rd place in the Western Conference.

This will be the 3rd meeting between the two teams. The Canucks have won both previous games by a combined score of 6-1. In the season series, Ryan Kesler leads all skaters with 3 points (1G-2A) and a plus-3 rating; Keith Yandle has been the only Coyote to score a goal against the Canucks so far this season.

Ray Whitney, who may be small in stature but plays big and with so much heart and determination, leads the Coyotes in assists (39) and points (57). He also has the team’s best plus/minus rating (+24). Whitney has recorded at least a point in 15 of his last 17 games; he has 21 points (4G-17A) in that span.

Thursday, March 1, 2012 vs. St. Louis Blues (7:00 PM start, home)

At the start of the season, few thought that the St. Louis Blues would be leading a tough Central Division and be sitting in 2nd place in the Western Conference with 19 games to go. The Blues are currently riding a 3-game win streak and have won 10 of their last 14 games.

This will be the last game of the regular season between these two clubs; the Blues have won 2 games and the Canucks have won 1.

Goaltender Brian Elliot backstopped the Blues in both of their wins. T.J. Oshie leads the skaters with 4 points (2G-2A) and a plus-4 rating.

Patrik Berglund has been an assist machine recently recording with 7 assists in his last 7 games. He also sits 4th in team scoring with 30 points (13G-17A).

For the Canucks, Alex Burrows has 3 goals and a plus-3 rating against St. Louis. Also, Daniel Sedin recorded the overtime winner back in January.

Saturday, March 3, 2012 vs. Buffalo Sabres (7:00 PM start, home)

At the start of the season, Canucks fans had this came circled for the return of Christian Ehrhoff. Little did we know it would also mark the return of Cody Hodgson. Hodgson was traded to Buffalo for Zach Kassian on trade deadline day. Canucks Nation wishes Cody well in Buffalo and hopes that he gets the opportunity to shine in a top-6 role. Buffalo is currently 6 points out of a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference and hope that Hodgson’s addition will help as they make one, final push for the postseason.

This is the first and only meeting between the two clubs. The Sabres have had some success against Northwest Division opponents this season, going 2-0-0 so far).

Captain Jason Pominville has been hot with 12 points (6G-6A) in his last 11 games. He also leads the Sabres in goals (23), assists (36) and points (59) this season.

Appreciating Schneider

In only 3 games played in the month of February, Cory Schneider continues to show why he is one of the best – if not the best – backups in the league today. He’s won 12 of his last 14 starts.

He was also the main reason the Canucks left New Jersey with 2 points last Friday. After an emotional, streak-breaking win against the Detroit Red Wings last week, the Canucks came out flat and didn’t have much left in the tank against the Devils. All Schneids did was stand on his head and stop 30 of 31 shots he faced.

This season, Schneids has an impressive 14-5 record this season along with an equally-impressive .930 save percentage, which is good for 4th > best in the NHL. He also has a 2.19 goals against average, which is 8th best in the league.

Prior to the trade deadline, there was much speculation about whether or not Mike Gillis would deal Schneider. Thankfully, GMMG made the decision to keep him despite his RFA status next season. Schneider and Luongo were the best goalie tandem last year, winning the Jennings award, and they have continued on with their success this season. It gives the Canucks a lot of confidence knowing that Schneider has shown now too that he can step into high-pressure, hostile situations and handle big games.

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