The Canucks played two games last week, getting themselves back in the win column with victories in both games. A 4-2 win over Colorado on Wednesday ended a four game losing streak, and was followed up by a 6-1 rout of the San Jose Sharks on Friday. The Canucks saw their home ice dominance return and even more encouraging was the league’s best power play didn’t score once in the two wins, meaning the team played much improved five on five, an area in which they’ve struggled through the first quarter of the season.
Kicking off the week Wednesday versus the Avalanche, the Canucks jumped out to an early lead – something they hadn’t done throughout their losing streak – when Kevin Beiksa tipped in a Mikael Samuelsson shot for his first goal of the year. Colorado tied the game in the second period; however the Canucks took the lead back for good with goals by Daniel Sedin and Ryan Kesler. The final would be 4-2. John-Michael Liles and Matt Duchene scored for the Avalanche, while Alex Burrows also scored for Vancouver.
The Canucks followed up the divisional win over Colorado by welcoming the San Jose Sharks to Rogers Arena on Friday. The Sharks have consistently been near the top of the conference over the past few years, but have struggled with consistency in the early stages of this season. The Canucks again got an early lead when call up Jeff Tambellini – who is fitting in nicely with Ryan Kesler and Mason Raymond – scored his third goal of the season. The Sharks would tie the game later in the first, and the game would head to the second period tied at one where Vancouver would take the lead and not look back. Raffi Torres gave the Canucks an early second period lead off a nice pass from Jannik Hansen. Mikael Samuelsson followed up the Torres goal less than two minutes later with a marker of his own. With Rogers Arena already abuzz after the two goals, Dan Hamhuis laid a massive hip check on Sharks defenseman Douglas Murray, capping the best five minutes of hockey the Canucks have played since their six game win streak. The Canucks would go into the third with a 3-1 lead and would finish the Sharks off with goals by Mikael Samuelsson (his second), Alex Burrows, and Keith Ballard. The team entered their four day gap in the schedule on a high note, blowing out the Sharks and heading into Calgary looking for their third consecutive victory.
The coming week for the Canucks sees them play three games, two of which are on the road. The team rolls into the Saddledome on Wednesday to face the struggling Calgary Flames. Even though the Flames aren’t playing very well at the moment, the divisional rivalry will mean the Flames should be bringing their best game to the table. The Canucks have been inconsistent on the road and are still looking for ways to bring their home game with them when they leave Rogers Arena. After Calgary, the team heads to the Madhouse on Madison to play their biggest current rival – the Chicago Blackhawks. The Canucks will be looking to extract a measure of revenge on the Blackhawks, after the Hawks blew the Canucks out at Rogers Arena a couple weeks earlier. The Hawks have been inconsistent on the year, especially at home. They boast a 5-7-0 record on home ice, where they only lost eight games in regulation all of last season. The week wraps up Sunday when the Canucks return home to host the St. Louis Blues. The Blues have been good to start the year, but have done most of their winning at home. On the road they own a meager 4-6-2 record. The Canucks will look to take advantage of that, along with the fact that the Blues play Edmonton on Saturday and will be playing their second game in two nights when they come into Vancouver Sunday.
If the Canucks can continue their recent strong play at even strength, they should start to see better results. For the majority of the year the power play has carried the team, but for them to remain at or near the top of the conference they’ll need to find the consistency to dominate five on five. Last week proved a step in the right direction, and needs to be followed up with similar efforts on the road to start this week.
Game of the Week: Friday @ Chicago. Anytime the Canucks play the Blackhawks, it has the prospect to be a great game. After the beating the Hawks laid on the Canucks a couple weeks ago, Vancouver should bring their best effort looking for revenge. Friday is shaping up to be a great chapter in the continued rivalry between the Canucks and Hawks.
Player to watch: Mikael Samuelsson. With three points in his last two games the streaky Swede could finally be poised to go hot. Samuelsson seemed to respond to Vigneault putting him on the third line with Torres and Malhotra, providing offense in both Vancouver victories last week. Samuelsson is one of the key cogs in the Canucks secondary scoring, and if he gets going it will take a lot of pressure off the Sedin twins and Ryan Kesler.