Thursday, January 06, 2011

A Team On A Mission


What a run. The Vancouver Canucks sit atop the NHL standings with a 26-8-5 (57pts) record in 39 games. Heading into the season the 2010-11 version of the Canucks had the potential to be one of the best teams in franchise history. That potential has been realized, Vancouver has never seen a team quite like this one.

From top to bottom, there has never been a Canuck team as strong as this. It all starts down the middle with Henrik Sedin, Ryan Kesler and Manny Malhotra. During this run Kesler has been amazing at both ends of the rink, Henrik is on pace for another 100pt season and Malhotra has dominated the faceoff circle while anchoring a solid 3rd line. Throw in a deep supporting cast of wingers and you have a group of lines that can play in any situation against any matchup.

While there may not be an elite #1 defenseman on the backend, the group as a whole is tremendously deep. Alex Edler has quietly become one of the best young defensemen in the game. His partner Christian Ehrhoff has provided offense while improving his defensive play. Kevin Bieksa is playing the best hockey of his career. The new guys have settled in nicely and Andrew Alberts has to get the team's most improved player award.

In goal, the Canucks finally have a backup they have confidence in. Cory Schneider has yet to lose in regulation and has allowed the Canucks to rest Luongo during one of the busiest points of the schedule. The fresh and rested Luongo appears to be at the top of his game.

Statistics aside, there is something about this team that is different than teams past. This is a team on a mission. Everyone has bought into the game plan, the attitude of the team is very business like. Play sixty minutes every night. Play hard, play with discipline. This team knows what they need to do to win and everyone has bought in to the process. As evidence of this all you have to do is look at the game in San Jose on Tuesday night. Playing their third game in 4 nights, during an unfriendly travel schedule, the Canucks went into San Jose and came out with a victory against one of the best teams in the league. It was a physical playoff type game, a game which the Canucks could have easily made excuses for. Instead they stepped up and won in a building they have had a lot of trouble in.

Right now the biggest problem the Canucks have is how they're going to get Sami Salo back in under the salary cap. That's a good problem to have.