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