I actually can't tell you who the Canucks played in their last home game without looking at the calendar, that's how long ago it was. But after 14 games, the Olympics and tens of thousands of miles, the Canucks are finally home, and in a situation many thought they wouldn't be at the end of this trip: In first place in the Northwest Division. A very successful roadtrip no matter how you look at it, but there's no time for back patting, as the Canucks have 15 games left to shore up their situation for the playoffs and prepare for the post season.
Most of us agreed that coming back from this trip 7-7 would be acceptable, and a pretty decent result. So for them to come back 8-5-1 was without a doubt a pleasant surprise, especially factoring in the time frame, injuries and competition of the last 6 games of the road trip. 5 of the 6 teams playoff bound, and apart from the hiccup in Chicago, the Canucks playing some gritty road hockey, comebacks and all. You can sit there and second guess all you want. Hockey games don't count style points, it's all about the win. This is a team that refuses to give up, and will find ways to come back and win games. How can that be a bad thing?
Yes Roberto Luongo's stats aren't that great on this trip, but they still managed to win games. Getting home in front of what should be some incredibly appreciative fans at GM Place starting tomorrow should help. The Canucks will get another shot at an Ottawa team that handed them a 3-1 defeat earlier in the trip. The Sens came up flat against the Flames last night, getting shutout 2-0 at the Pengrowth Saddledome. Those Flames will be at GM Place the following night, which will also feature the Canucks for Kids Telethon.
The Canucks have 4 games total next week, the Islanders Tuesday, Sharks Thursday and a rematch with Detroit next Saturday. Things are certainly looking for the Canucks to wrap up their 3rd division title in 4 years, as 10 of their last 15 are at home, and while it's unlikely that they move up any further in the standings, they are looking at the possibility of their first 50 win season in team history.
The Canucks also received some good news for their embattled D core; Kevin Bieksa will be ready to return to the lineup as early as Saturday. That means you will likely see Aaron Rome sitting out once Juice has returned. It's interesting, as Rome actually seemed to be improving at the tail end of this trip, jumping into the rush and getting some offensive chances.