Despite ending the week on a sour note losing to the St. Louis Blues on Sunday, the Canucks managed a good week, routing division rival Calgary 7-2 before extracting a measure of revenge on the Blackhawks, winning 3-0.
The Canucks entered the week playing well and riding a two game winning streak. Going into Calgary on Wednesday they faced a struggling Flames team and took full advantage. The game remained close through two periods with the Canucks taking a 3-2 lead into the third before putting up four goals on the Flames in the final frame, cruising to a 7-2 victory. The attack was led by Mason Raymond, who netted a hat trick. The Canucks also got goals from Jeff Tambellini, Daniel Sedin, Alex Burrows and Dan Hamhuis while Tim Jackman and Alex Tanguay scored for the Flames. Special teams again played a huge factor for the Canucks, as they went 3 for 8 on the power play and killed all 3 Calgary power plays, along with scoring a shorthanded goal. The win was the third in a row, and the Canucks would roll into Chicago feeling confident in their attempt to avenge a 7-1 drubbing by the Hawks two weeks earlier.
The first period in Chicago saw Roberto Luongo whether an early Chicago storm. The Blackhawks put a ton of early pressure on the Canucks who managed to escape the first period scoreless. Tanner Glass would net the first goal of the game midway through the second period when he found a loose puck sitting in the slot and backhanded it past Marty Turco. Luongo would continue to be the story through the midway point of the game making big save after big save and the Canucks would go to the third period with a 1-0 lead. Early in the third Christian Ehrhoff would score on the power play before Henrik Sedin provided the nail in the coffin, scoring the 3-0 goal with less than five minutes left in the game. Luongo would close out the shutout, playing arguably his best game in a couple of years while at the same time providing a statement that the Hawks may not be in his head as everyone has speculated they are.
The Canucks wrapped up their week by returning home for a Sunday game versus the banged up St. Louis Blues in a game where the Canucks looked listless for the most part. The Blues frustrating defensive style lulled the Canucks to sleep. Alex Steen would score his first of two goals on the night and start the Canucks playing catch up all night. Jannik Hansen would tie the game halfway through the first before Matt D’Agostini gave the Blues the lead again early in the second period. Kevin Bieksa scored his second of the season to again tie the game before Alex Steen scored early in the third. The Canucks would not be able to battle back a third time, as the Blues played very conservatively, frustrating the Canucks by clogging up the neutral zone and not giving them a chance to use their speed. The Canucks would see their win streak end at four as the Blues skated away with a 3-2 win.
This week sees the Canucks play three games. Anaheim visits Rogers Arena Wednesday in what should be a high scoring affair. Seemingly every time the Canucks and Ducks meet the game sees a lot of goals scored and leads change hands often. The Canucks then are off until Saturday before playing back to back games against the Lightning and the Oilers on the weekend. The Tampa Bay game is also the night Markus Naslund’s number 19 will be retired. The Canucks will have to try to find a way to shut out Steven Stamkos in a game that could prove to be high scoring. Sunday against the Oilers could very well see Cory Schneider get his first start since November 15.
Game of the Week: Saturday vs. Tampa Bay. Longtime Canucks captain Markus Naslund will become only the third (Stan Smyl and Trevor Linden) player in franchise history to have his number retired. The Canucks are also paid a visit by one of the best young players in the game today in Steven Stamkos, and see longtime Canuck defenseman Mattias Ohlund return to Vancouver.
Player to Watch: Cory Schneider. After going on about how he wanted Roberto Luongo to play fewer games this season, Alain Vigneault has fallen back into the habit of playing Luongo night after night. Schneider should see his fifth start of the season Sunday, as the Canucks will be on the second night of back to back games having to travel from Vancouver to Edmonton between games. Schneider has been very good this season, winning three of his four starts and it will be interesting to see how he responds to such a long time between starts.