Successful road trip for Canucks
Well, that’s over.
The Vancouver Canucks‘ longest road trip of the season is now in their rear-view mirror, and it can’t be considered anything but a success.
They fought injuries, a horrible schedule and some pretty good teams to walk away with a respectable 5-1-1 record, and really only had one bad effort in Columbus.
The Canucks beat the teams they should have (Buffalo, New Jersey and Philly) and had nice showings against the Blues and Islanders. Pittsburgh is a game they really should have won, but they managed to get a single point, so it wasn’t a total loss.
It bodes well for the team the rest of the way, but here are the three guys who I think helped carry the team during this epic trip.
Sure, playing with Henrik Sedin helps, but Ryan Kesler was the most noticeable he’s been since the Nashville Predators series in 2011 during this trip.
Kesler picked up six goals and three assists over the seven games, including the clutch goal against the Blues to seal the win for Vancouver on Friday. He’s already got two game-winning goals, and playing with Henrik has seemed to finally open up his offensive game.
I love the way he’s playing on the wing, and it really allows him to focus on offense – something that I think he sometimes forgets to do when he’s playing in the middle. Great stuff from Kesler on this trip.
Just like Kesler, Kevin Bieksa had a bit of a rough start, but he was flying for most of the road trip. Bieksa accumulated four assists, but you can tell he loves the fact that Tortorella lets the defenseman sneak in and contribute as often as they can.
Bieksa was the catalyst for the overtime winner against the Islanders, and he really shines in four-on-four play. He’s also a team-best +10, so he’s obviously doing something right on the defensive end as well.
Another aspect of Bieksa’s game I’ve liked early into the season is the lack of dumb penalties. He’s only taken four minors thus far and has been pretty solid on both ends of the ice.
First of all, honourable mention to Henrik Sedin, who had two goals and six assists; but Roberto Luongo was a huge difference maker in several of the games on this trip. He stood on his head in Philly and Pittsburgh, and I liked his effort against the Devils. No complaints here on the goaltending at all.
Both Luongo and Eddie Lack have given the Canucks a chance to win in almost every game this year, and that’s really all you can ask from a goalie. Luongo’s numbers are solid, but he’s also doing great in the only goalie stat that really matters – wins.
The Canucks will be back home this week, but it doesn’t get any easier as the Washington Capitals and Detroit Red Wings come to town on Monday and Wednesday respectively. Then there’s a big date with that team from Toronto on Saturday.
And as we all know, all of the good will that the Canucks have built up after this road trip can evaporate after just one bad effort. Stay tuned Canucks fans – it’s still only October.