Monday, November 17, 2008

Critical Stretch Ahead

After a successful homestand the Canucks embark on a difficult road trip that will see them play 4 games in 6 days. To make matters worse the Canucks have to play the Rangers and then fly to Minnesota to play the next day, then they get to fly back east to face Pittsburgh on Sunday at noon. If that's not bad enough tonight begins a stretch of 11 out of 13 games away from home... btw those two home games are against Detroit and Calgary. Needless to say this is a critical stretch in the Canucks season.

The Canucks are currently 10-6-1 for 21 points in 17 games. If the Canucks play .500 (6-6-1) over the next 13 game stretch they would have 34 points with 50 games to go. For arguments sake, lets say that for those final 50 games the Canucks manage to continue their pace during the first 17 games in which they have averaged 1.235 points per game... 50 games X 1.235 = 61.8 or 62 points per game. So their final total would be 34 + 62 = 96 points. Since the lockout it has taken 91 to 96 points to make the playoffs.

That's not a very big margin for error. A sub .500 stretch would force the Canucks to play .580+ hockey the rest of the way.... or about a 27-19-4 record.

OK, enough with the numbers...

The Canucks start off with the Islanders today at 4:00pst. According to Tom Larchied on the Team 1040 Alex Edler (flu) will not play tonight, so you're looking at the same lineup that beat the Leafs on Saturday night.

Things to keep an eye on...

  • Without Edler and Bieksa in the lineup the Canucks struggled to get the puck up the ice against the Leafs, managing only 15 shots on goal. Even when healthy this has been the weak link of the Canuck blueline. The Canucks need to find out if Lawrence Nycholat can really contribute.
  • Mason Raymond hasn't produced with the Sedins and neither has any one else... how long till Wellwood gets a shot?
  • Demitra looked excellent in his return, showing nice chemistry with Wellwood... that will make it difficult to audition Wellwood with the Sedins.
  • The offense has dried up on the third line. These guys are going to have to start showing some offense soon.
  • The 4th line still hasn't produced in terms of "momentum changing shifts". The Canucks could really use one or two of those on this trip.
  • Special teams are likely to decide their fate on the road. The PK was great against the Leafs and Demitra should be a boost to the PP.
  • How many games will Luongo get on the road? Ideally you'd want him in each of the final 3 games, but that's a lot of games with a lot of kilometers in a short amount of time.
  • Finally, the Canucks can't afford to take the Islanders lightly... something they are often guilty of doing.

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