[Every Sunday, Caylie King looks at the Canucks week that was and the Canucks week ahead. You can follow Caylie on Twitter (@cayking).]
44 GP, 29-9-6, 64 points (1st in Northwest Division, 1st in Western Conference)
Alex Edler is starting to cement his place as one of the good, young defensemen in the NHL. He has been a workhorse, averaging over 25 minutes of ice-time per game in the first 3 games of this road trip and over 24 minutes of ice-time per game this season. Despite the extended ice-time, he’s been very reliable and hasn’t had a minus-game since Boxing Day. Edler is on pace for career year in points and his goal against the Capitals moved him to 4th in team scoring behind only the Sedins and Ryan Kesler.
Since Jeff Tambellini’s recall on November 24, 2010, the Canucks have gone 19-2-3 with him in the line-up. Jeff has already matched his career-high of 15 points; however, he has been on a slump as of late going 9 games without recording a point. He has been splitting his duties between the second and fourth lines in the last few games.
Tuesday, January 18, 2011 vs. Colorado Avalanche (6:00 PM start, road)
The Avalanche are the Canucks’ only real threat in the Northwest Division and currently sit in 6th place in the Western Conference. They are 4-4-2 in their last 10 games and have won 2 of their last 3 games. However, the Canucks have won all 4 games against the Avs this season.
The Canucks’ 2nd-ranked powerplay can take advantage of the Avalanche’s 3rd-worst penalty-killing in the league.
Chris Stewart is back from injury which boosts the Avalanche’s lineup. He missed 21 games, but has 25 points in 24 games.
Thursday, January 20, 2011 vs. San Jose Sharks (7:00 PM start, home)
The Sharks have been struggling lately going 3-7-0 in their last 10 games. The Canucks have won both meetings against the Sharks this season – a 6-1 thrashing at Rogers Arena and a 4-3 come-from-behind win in San Jose.
The Canucks and the Sharks have the 2nd and 5th-ranked powerplays, respectively, but neither have been prominent in the teams’ season series so far – in two games, the Canucks were 1-for-4 with the powerplay and the Sharks were 1-for-3.
The Sharks big 3 – Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau and Dany Heatley – have been disappointing this season. They have a combined 115 points (46 G -69 A), but also, a combined plus/minus rating of -36.
Saturday, January 22, 2011 vs. Calgary Flames (7:00 PM start, home)
The Flames have been hot (no pun intended) in their last 10 games going 6-2-2. They are currently on a mini 2-game win streak and have points in their last 4 games.
The Canucks have loved playing the Flames this season, winning both meetings to-date and decisively outscoring them 10-3.
Mason Raymond especially likes playing his hometown team. He has 3 goals and 2 assists in only 2 games against the Flames this season.
Most Deserving of a Shout-out: The Fourth Line
The play of the fourth line recently has been outstanding. They single-handedly set the tone in Washington. They spent a majority of their shifts in the offensive zone, controlled the puck and forced the Caps to chase them around. Glass-Hansen-Bolduc were a combined +5, while Hansen assisted on 2 key goals. (Unfortunately, Bolduc got injured during the Caps game and is out for 3-4 weeks.) In a mediocre game against the Islanders, Tanner Glass saw the opportunity to spark the team with a big fight against Matt Martin. Let’s just say after a 1-2 punch to the dome, Martin was down for the count while wiping the blood from beneath his right eye.