[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.
69 GP, 42-19-8, 92 points (1st in Northwest Division, 2nd in Western Conference)
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.
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.
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.
[Every week, Caylie King reviews the Canucks week that was and previews the Canucks week ahead. You can follow Caylie on Twitter (@cayking).]
Last week, the Canucks split its two games. On Tuesday, the Canucks lost to the Kings in a shootout. Luongo had a huge game stopping 39 of 41 shots and was the huge factor in stealing the team one point. On the other hand, Saturday’s early matinee game, against the Sharks, was the best performance from the Canucks since beating the Boston Bruins two weeks ago in another early Saturday game. The team put together a solid 60-minute effort to win the two points.
With the All-Star break coming up, this week brings with it good and bad news. Good news: the Sedins, Hodgson and Edler will represent the Canucks in Ottawa. The bad news: Canucks Nation will have one Canucks game to watch in seven days. Before you go into withdrawal mode, look at the bright side, a week-long break will be give the boys a chance to recharge their batteries and get ready for the home stretch.
48 GP, 29-15-4, 62 points (1st in Northwest Division, 2nd in Western Conference)
Welcome back, David Booth. After missing 18 games due to a knee-sprain, Booth has come back into the lineup and picked up where he left off. He has 3 points (2G-1A) in his last 3 games.
The American Express line has finally been reunited and seem to have found their chemistry again. The line, with Booth, Ryan Kesler and Chris Higgins, was great, especially in the 1st period of the Sharks game.
Alex Edler is off to the All-Star game, and while some were surprised by this selection, he has actually, quietly been putting up a strong campaign. Edler has recorded at least one point in 5 of his last 7 games; he has 1 goal and 5 assists in that span. His 34 points (7G-27A) is 3rd in overall scoring on the Canucks, behind just Daniel and Henrik, and ties him for 2nd in points amongst all NHL defensemen.
Tuesday, January 24, 2012 vs. Edmonton oilers (7:00 PM start, home)
It’s a Northwest Division battle as the Canucks go against the struggling Edmonton Oilers. The Oilers sit in 14th place and have been hit hard by the injury bug. The absence of rookie sensation Ryan Nugent-Hopkins has been greatly noticed as the Oilers have gone 2-7-1 without him in the lineup.
The Canucks have won 2 of the 3 games so far against Edmonton this season. Roberto Luongo backstopped the Canucks in both victories and will start again tonight.
It was just announced that Jordan Eberle will replace the injured Mikko Koivu at the All-Star Game, a deserved honor. In just his second season in the NHL, Eberle leads the Oilers in goals (18), assists (27) and points (45). He is currently riding a 2-game point streak and will look to extend it against the Canucks.
In this episode of the CHB TV video podcast, Clay Imoo, J.J. Guerrero and Lizz Moffat talk about the Canucks at the quarter pole of the 2011/2012 season.