Well this is good…
To think that such a large portion of Canucks Nation was pressing the panic button not more than a week ago is comical. Sure there are still some kinks to be worked out but come on; any sane being could’ve foreseen them bumping the slump like they have.
So they’ve got 5 wins in a row and a game Saturday night against the Flames of Calgary. Said Flames had their hinies harassed by the Avalanche Friday and they are virtually out of the playoff picture for good this season.
So in a game Saturday that should be a cakewalk for Vancouver and one where the Canucks could officially eliminate Calgary from playoff contention, will it be that easy?
Let’s take a looky-loo at a few things.
What’s Up with Luongo?
Luongo stiff neck in warm-up. He pulled himself out and wasn’t happy. Surprise start for #35RT @dominosquadra: Why is Schneider in net?
— Dan Murphy (@sportsnetmurph) March 31, 2012
So assuming Bobby Lu was just having a bad day from sleeping on a foreign bed the night before, he should be good to go Saturday.
Of course as I am writing this, @vancanucks tweets:
Update on Luongo: “Lui had stiff neck this morning. Didn’t loosen up. If this would have been extreme, could have played thru it.” #Canucks
— Vancouver Canucks (@VanCanucks) March 31, 2012
So there you have it, he’s fine.
Getting Up for a Rival
A rivalry does exist between these two teams. Games are always nasty but the sad reality is that the rivalry has suffered in the wake of new rivalries between the Canucks and other teams like Chicago, Boston, San Jose and even Nashville.
Add to that the frequency with which the Canucks have played the Flames this season and there just hasn’t been any chance for it to build.
The two former arch-rivals have gone 14, 9, 20 and 24 games between playing against each other and now face a pair of games within a week to close out the season.
Calgary really has nothing to play for but their own dignity and maybe trying to spoil the Canucks’ chances at the Western Conference crown but let’s be honest here.
Jarome Iginla can speak bravely all he wants about how the team won’t stop fighting until the end but they have next to no chance at all to make the playoffs.
Back to Back
This has to be the most interesting stat of the night. If it’s not, I will drink a cup of the sweat I perspired while writing this preview.
To start this season, the Canucks went 0-4 in the back half of back to back games.
Since then, they have had 6 more of those situations and won them all. The most recent one of those was a 2-1 win over none other than Dallas just last week.
Obviously we all know how this team slacks it to max in October and November but what does this really say about them?
Does it say they don’t try in the first halves of those back to back games? Probably not since they are 4-1-1 in those same last 6.
Methinks the key is having that best goaltending tandem in the NHL. If you’re players aren’t going to be 100% in the back half, at least you have skilled enough players to keep you in it and a bona fide star goaltender to steal you one.
BEST BET TO WIN: Vancouver Canucks
Sorry Calgary, but Vancouver is charging towards St. Louis for their 2nd straight Western Conference title…and you’re in the way.
Puck drop is at 7PM on CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada and TEAM1040 Radio.