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Morning Buzz: Canucks claim 1st in West; Pens and Flyers brawl so hard; playoff picture coming into focus

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"THAT is a nice tie! Where did you get it?" Image from <a href="">Puck Daddy.</a>
"THAT is a nice tie! Where did you get it?" Image from Puck Daddy.

No, it was not an April Fools joke; the Canucks really did wake up on Sunday morning as the #1 seed in the Western Conference. It seems like only yesterweek that the team was mired in a slump and the city was in a state of panic. Daniel Sedin was out with a concussion and the prospect of another deep playoff run was looking grim.

But since then, the Canucks have rattled off six straight wins, all against teams fighting for their playoff lives. In many ways it's been a playoff pre-season for Vancouver; a chance to focus on tidying up their own end and tinker with line combinations that don't feature their best sniper. That's not to take anything away from the quality of their opposition; stringing together six wins in a row against teams with so much at stake every night is no easy task. The one clear advantage I believe this year's team holds over last year's is their ability to win some really ugly hockey games. And when the second season starts on April 11th, there will be no bonus points awarded for aesthetics.

Here are some links to get the ball rolling on the final week of the 2011-12 NHL regular season.


Vancouver Canucks News & Notes

The Canucks took over top spot in the West with their OT win against the Flames Saturday night. They're 1 point up on St. Louis with the same number of games played. | VS

What's impressive is the club has won six straight games without Daniel Sedin, thanks to tighter defence and a better team game. Thomas Drance looks at whether or not Henrik's game changes without his brother. | PITB

Since Daniel's injury, pretty much every player who's seen time on Henrik's wing has seen an immediate bump in production. No surprise, he makes anyone who plays with him better. | The White Towel

Cheers and Jeers for the week that was in Canucks hockey. | CanucksArmy

The CHB has another anti-riot PSA, this one featuring our favourite French Canadian superpests. | CHB

This made me chortle: Andrew Ebbett's return to the lineup Saturday was short-lived, as he was mauled by zombies upon scoring the overtime winner. | LoB

Ed Willes with his Monday morning thoughts on the Canucks. | The Province

HTTN releases their April wallpaper. Go get it!

Hey, ever wonder what former Canuck Alex Bolduc is up to? Probably not. Why would you? Anyway, it appears he's experiencing a career resurgence as BizNasty's wingman.

NHL News & Notes

Here's what the current playoff picture looks like. If this is how it ends up, once again the Canucks will be rewarded for finishing 1st by facing an 8th seed that is probably better than their record indicates.

The Penguins will almost certainly face the Flyers in the first round, and yesterday's game set the stage for what should be a classic. Just watch the chaos ensue! I think Pierre McGuire soiled his suit in the face of Laviolette's wrath. | PD

The Ottawa Senators clinched a playoff spot yesterday, and are pretty much locked in to play the Bruins in the first round. | NHL

In a potential Eastern Conference Final preview, the Bruins beat the Rangers in MSG yesterday, clinching the Northeast Division title. | Sportsnet

Teemu Selanne played with could be his last home game in Anaheim last night, and of course he scored a goal. | CBC

Sidney Crosby had 6 points in 2 games over the weekend, including the 600th of his career. He hit the milestone in less games than anyone not named Gretzky or Lemieux. | NP