Tuesday's game against the Boston Bruins was the beginning of the Canucks' playoff run. The games played have more meaning now, the locker room has a different feeling inside of it. Teams are sizing up their opponents and preparing accordingly.
Ryan Miller being out 4-6 weeks has thrust Eddie Lack back into the full time starter position and I expect Eddie to stay there. Lack has a Goals Against Average of 2.47 and a Save Percentage of .921 in 21 games played. Eddie has started 15 of those games and come in relief of Miller for 5 of those games. Ryan Miller has been struggling as of late, posting a 3.00 Goals Against Average and a Save Percentage of .890 over the past 10 starts. To make the playoffs, the Canucks need strong goaltending for their play off run and the stats Miller has posted as of late are not good enough. If the Boston game was any indication of the play the Canucks are going to get from Eddie, then the Canucks are in great hands.
Nick Bonino being back for the Bruins game gave the Canucks a better look at their forward group. Are there pieces to add? Or are there pieces to sell? The Canucks have missed Bonino and devanMalholtra94 wrote an excellent piece on how the Canucks have benefited from Bonino's good possession numbers. Possession will be key for the Canucks' playoff run and Bonino has come back at the right time.
Bo Horvat has stepped up in a major way, giving glimpses to the centre the Canucks hoped they had drafted. In the past 10 games Bo has scored 5 goals and recorded 2 assists. On top of these 7 points, Bo has gone 52.16% in the face off circle and has averaged 14:52 mins of ice time in the past 10 games.
Zack Kassian has turned into an animal, figuratively and literally, just look at his goal celebrations. Zack has scored 7 goals and 3 assists in the past 10 games and has been rewarded for his production by playing with the Sedins. On top of scoring 7 goals, 2 of these goals have been game winning goals. Having a big body that can play well with the Sedin Twins now and possibly in the playoffs will go a long ways to keeping them productive and Kassian is showing he can be this player.
The defence has played well in the past few games, despite being decimated with injuries. Dan Hamhuis has played more games than the rest of the defence combined. The Canucks have gone 3-1 with this decimated defence core. Defence wins games and the Canucks all of a sudden have depth on defence again. By the end of the regular season the rest of the defence should be healthy which will be extremely important for the playoff run.
One cannot write an article on a playoff run without talking about Henrik and Daniel. What haven't they done? They've been penalty killers, offensive specialists and even made the NHL's 3 stars for the week. In the past 10 games Henrik has scored 3 goals and tallied 10 assists. Daniel has scored 3 goals as well and tallied 8 assists. The Twins have looked like the Twins of old the past few games, exciting to watch and dangerous every shift.
I wrote a post about wanting the Canucks to not be buyers at the trade deadline. I still stand by that article, but am looking forward to see what this team can do in this last stretch of games. The Canucks have not had the best record at home, but they have a chance to retake Rogers Arena in the next 10 games, 7 of them being played at home. Having an electrifying home arena will make the playoff run all the more exciting and better for the players. Now, the Canucks need to prove that they can make this run at home. The fans are realizing that this team is not the same as last year's and I think the players are realizing this fact too. The boys are back and they are poised to make a run.