The Vancouver Canucks have nearly a week off to examine what’s been going right and wrong for the club after a mediocre start to the season.
With Stanley Cup aspirations following them wherever they go, Vancouver has seen some promising performances and trends they can build on as they get set for November, a month they went 7-5 in a year ago.
Cory Schneider: He’s played approximately 200 minutes less than starter Roberto Luongo, but Schneider has been pushing every second of the way.
Impressive in wins over Carolina and Minnesota and in relief in another game against the Wild, Schneider’s stingy 0.86 GAA and godly .968 SV% are so far giving the Canucks reason to rest Luongo.
It’s common knowledge that overworked goalies have been unable to carry teams in the post-season lately, so if Schneider can keep ringing up the wins, Vancouver won’t lose a step by giving Luongo a night off and may even be better for it in April.
Daniel Sedin: This doesn’t at all fall under any surprise category, but it’s nice to see Daniel with the team scoring lead. From Day 1, he was labelled the goal-scorer of the twin duo and if not for an injury last season, would have given Henrik a run for the Hart.
And while Henrik isn’t falling off, he hasn’t scored a goal yet because Daniel is more than capable of tickling the twine all night every night.
Not only does Vancouver have two Hart Trophy candidates in the lineup, but with their increased production over the past year, Daniel could even take a run at the Rocket Richard.
Power Play: The Canucks had one of the best offences in the league last season, but less-than-stellar outings against Los Angeles, Florida, Minnesota and Chicago has left this year’s team averaging 2.5 goals per game, tied for 22nd in the league.
The power play, however, is clipping along at a slightly better pace than last year, converting on seven of 32 chances for a 21.9 percent rate: seventh-best.
Power plays are so important in today’s NHL: Look at last year’s Montreal Canadiens who had the league’s 25th-ranked offence, but the second-best power play.
Would they have made the post-season without the 57 goals they tallied with the man advantage? Likely not.