Blue & Green Machine: Week 4

Jeff Vinnick/Vancouver Canucks

Analyzing the major storylines and key players from the week in Canucks hockey. Hope you enjoy! If you don't, you can always find me on Twitter and tell me I'm an idiot.

Last week in this space I wrote about the relative ease of the Canucks upcoming schedule. Well, so far so good. The week that was saw a dramatic overtime win against the Oilers, perhaps the most complete effort of the season against the Wild, and a good ol' fashioned stomping of the Flames at home on Hockey Night. It was a huge week for two of the team's young players, and we saw perhaps the funniest player interview in franchise history.

Storylines

GOALTENDING AND LUONG ON AFTER HOURS

While the balance of power in Vancouver's net is shifting back towards Cory Franklin Schneider after only allowing two goals against the Flames and Wild, Roberto Luongo is winning the PR battle. While Schneider's agent was complaining about a lack of starts, Luongo was inspiring a woman battling cancer, and while Schneider played a very good game against Calgary on HNIC, Luongo stole the show with his After Hours segment:

After Hours with Roberto Luongo - 02.09.13 - HD (via CanucksHD)

That is just amazing. I'm not sure what my favourite part was: Lou telling the infamous Anaheim bathroom story, the subtle dig at Ray Ferrarro for not including him on his 2014 Olympic roster, talking about "shap" on national television, or calling Scott Oake a "milt". Legendary.

LINE JUGGLING

Remember before the season started when Alain Vigneault said "I won't experiment with my lines as much in a shortened season"? Yeah, that still makes me laugh.

The week started with Zack Kassian still on the top line with the twins, but Alex Burrows was put back there in the second half of the Edmonton game. The Canucks came back to win, and that line has produced in each game since. Luckily, Kassian is proving he can contribute on any line, as his new threesome with Max Lapierre and Chris Higgins has looked great. Same goes for Raymond - Schroeder - Hansen, which has shown great chemistry and has to be one of the fastest lines in the league.

We poke fun at AV's line juggling, but most of these players have played together for so long that pretty much anybody can play with anyone and be effective. This is a huge luxury to have when it comes to match-ups.

DEFENSIVELY SOUND

The Canucks have only allowed 5 goals in their last 5 games. The goaltending has been ridiculously good. Like, unsustainably good; all but two Canucks skaters are sporting on-ice save percentages of well over 0.92. Keith Ballard and Chris Tanev are both over 0.98, and Jordan Schroeder hasn't been on the ice for a goal against yet in 9 games. It will be impossible to maintain this all season, but the good news is the offense is starting to click, team defence has improved dramatically since the opener, and Ryan Kesler and David Booth should be back shortly.

Player Notes

Chris Tanev had a big week. His first career goal against Edmonton was my favourite moment of the season until Roberto Luongo appeared on After Hours. "The Stare" still haunts me.

Jordan Schroeder is killing it. He was all over the ice in his homecoming game against Minnesota, and scored two beauties against the Flames. He's more than earned his roster spot once the forwards are healthy. The only question is do you keep him on the 3rd line with Raymond and Hansen, or the 2nd between Kesler and Booth?

The Sedins have been ignited since reuniting with Alex Burrows. They were in 2010 form against Calgary. AV now has two legitimate options for their wing, and that could come in handy depending on the opponent.

Chris Higgins is BACK! Great to see him get on the scoresheet again. He's been logging extremely difficult minutes shouldering a lot of the defensive load without Kesler.

Similar to Chiggins, Jannik Hasen scored his first pair of the season last week as well. He has 6 points in 11 games. It will be hard for him to maintain that level of offense given the team's shooting percentage when he's on the ice is a rather high 14.81%, but he contributes in so many other areas that it's not a big concern.

Looking Ahead

A surprisingly light workload this week for a short season, with three games at home against the Wild, Stars and Blues. After that the schedule gets significantly tighter, as the team hits the road for 4 games in 6 nights.

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