Those road warriors in Blue & Green are returning home after taking 3 of 4 on an Eastern swing (with a stop in St. Louis for some ribs and advice from The Cock). If it seems like the Canucks have been playing a lot lately, it's because they have, dumbass. The Canucks have played more games than most teams in the NHL, and over the next couple weeks, that gap is gonna get closed. And yes, it's very likely they will get knocked off of their perch atop the NHL. I would like to point out to you young whippersnappers that many thought that the Canucks might take the Western Conference, but thought it unlikely they would lead the league again. Yet here they are in mid-January, looking like they're ready to make it 2 straight Presidents' Trophy wins. Now much like all the personal accolades, this is all well and fine, but doesn't matter to me. I would like to see them win it again solely for ensuring home ice through the playoffs and nothing more. Now, it's time for you to sit down and shut up while Zandberg, Yankee and I tell you what we liked and hated this week...
Ol' Man Zandberg Liked: I think with this roadtrip, people really didn't know what to think. Many forecasted a severe beating at the hands of the Bruins, a Florida sweep and a loss in St. Louis. It's funny, because none of these games turned out like we thought, mainly due to these teams not being like we remember them. Okay, the Bruins haven't changed much, but Florida is definitely a better team than we've seen in years, and the seemingly crazy changes made by GM Dale Tallon and new coach Kevin Dineen might see the Florida Panthers playing playoff hockey for the first time in ages. And as surprisingly good as the Panthers have been this season, the Tampa bay Lightning have been shockingly bad. This team came within a game of being our opponent in the Finals last year, and this year, with nearly the same cast as last season, they're underperforming in a massive way.
So despite faltering in Florida, the Canucks came back the next night and battled through to win in the shootout against Tampa despite giving up a late goal. Then two nights later they went into St. Louis and against the hottest goalie in the NHL, took him down in OT. People complain if the Canucks struggle, especially in games that the leader board tells us they should have no trouble with. The problem with that line of thinking is that it completely discounts Gary Bettman's mantra: parity. The NHL has worked tirelessly to create it, and it really is true that nearly all these teams can beat any other team on any given night. Now this doesn't explain how bloody awful the Islanders and Blue Jackets are, but for the most part, you really can't take a night off. The game against Florida showed that. But the fact that the Canucks looked and played like a tired team over the last 7 days and came out of it with 6 of 8 points impressed the hell out of me. It shows that in spite of injuries and a tough schedule, this team is preparing for another long playoff run. The odds of them getting another shot in the finals aren't the greatest. This team is showing they care not so much about things like odds, and are finding ways to prove naysayers wrong.
Take one Mr. Burrows. His two scores give him 18 on the year and on pace for 36 by April. That would be a career best. Additionally he's on pace for a 57 point season which would be his best since his breakout in 2009-10. Besides I love it when Mr. Everything scores since I'm convinced it pisses off other fans and causes the unhinged ones to hurl their Bud Lights at their 14 inch televisions. Good.
Or how about that All Star defenseman? Edler's three points in three games this week is good enough to cement him as the third highest scoring defenseman in the league. Fun trend: he's on pace for a career best 14 goals and a (ridiculous) 62 point season, putting him with a hair of Doug Lidster's franchise-best 63 points for a defenseman in 1986-87. And because I'm an ass, a kind reminder that Ehrhoff is on pace for 34 points.
Everything Hansen does now if breaking his records too. He's on pace for a 47 point season and he's already surpassed his career best in goals damn near last month.
In sad news: both Sedins are projected to finished a few points beneath their stellar production from last season. In sadder news: they're still sitting on top of the league in points so keep up with those cardboard cutouts Boston moms, it's working well.
More more fun note: I went back and checked when the Canucks locked down their 28th win of the season last year. Answer: Their 42nd game on January 11 with a 4-3 SO win over the Islanders. This season? Answer: Their 45th game on January 12 this week in St. Louis. (*claps and rubs hands together while muttering "excellent" and petting the mad cat*)
Remember I said I'm an ass, so I'll part with two words: Dan Carcillo.
WHAT I HATED
Yankee 'In my day...' Canuck: It WAS going to be a toss up between Hodgson's dwindling minutes (need I remind you I have his mug tattooed on mine?!) or the early starts in Florida which meant I missed half the games. But for the second week straight going I'm turning the cross hairs back at the media, this time the always laughable Sports Illustrated (pop quiz: ask ten friends if they subscribe to that magazine and when they say no have them ask ten friends and so on. Once you get to the poor misguided soul who still uses an AOL account and actually has a subscription, roll up said magazine and smack them on the face). Courtesy of that rag (who polled a mere 19% of the league, or about 1 in every five NHL players), Kesler and Luongo made their top 15 most overrated players. Absolute comedy, but that didn't stop Vancouver media from asking them about it; and getting the typical response from the players. Like last week's Boston hilarity wasn't enough, we're going to give this type of story legs? Facepalm.
I'll part here with the only word that counts: standings.