A season removed from nabbing the Presidents’ Trophy as the league’s regular season leader, the Vancouver Canucks are proving they have it in them again to compete for that same crown.
And to defend that title, the Canucks are getting defence.
Without two of their top forwards in Ryan Kesler and David Booth, the Canucks are in the bottom half of the league in offense. It’s their defence, however, that is sparkling, sporting a 2.10 goals against average as a team and in the upper echelon in fewest shots allowed per game.
That stinginess on the back end isn’t without its controversy, though.
Projected backup goaltender Roberto Luongo has shined in split duty with starter Cory Schneider. In six games this season, Luongo has a sparkling 1.53 goals against average and .940 save percentage, quelling any thoughts the Canucks might’ve had about dealing the goaltender.
It’s not a terrible problem to have for the Canucks, who have rattled off four straight wins and will shoot for five against the Calgary Flames at Rogers Arena on Saturday night.
Defence - VAN
GOALS: 3 | ASST: 5 | PTS: 8
SOG: 26 | +/-: 1
Fresh off signing a six-year, $30 million extension, Alex Edler shares the team lead in points with Daniel Sedin with three goals and eight points in 10 games. Half of Edler’s production has come in the last five games – four of which resulted in wins for Vancouver. The Canucks defenceman is also second on the team in shots this season with 26.
Defence - VAN
GOALS: 1 | ASST: 1 | PTS: 2
SOG: 17 | +/-: 4
After scoring 16 goals a year ago with the Florida Panthers, defenceman Jason Garrison has just one this season after inking a six-year, $27.6 million deal in the offseason. Garrison is well off the pace that saw him record 33 points in his second full season in the NHL a year ago but if his big shot gets firing on target again, it's only a matter of time before he busts out.
THREE PLAYERS TO WATCH
After apparently losing the role of starter on the Canucks heading into the season, Luongo is making it difficult to keep him out of the crease. The Olympic gold medalist is third in both goals against average and save percentage among goaltenders with three or more appearances this season. Both numbers top that of Schneider.
Acquired last season in exchange for Cody Hodgson, Kassian has proved to be everything the Canucks had hoped when picking him up from the Buffalo Sabres. Kassian leads the Canucks in goals this season with five and shooting percentage at 25 per cent. The six-foot-three forward also has 21 hits this season.
Making his National Hockey League debut this season after being selected in the first round, 22nd overall in the 2009 Entry Draft, Schroeder is still searching for his first goal in the NHL. Schroeder, who has spent parts of the last three seasons in the American Hockey League after two years at the University of Minnesota, does have two assists this season.
BY THE NUMBERS
Last Game: Van 3 Cal 2 (SO)
Vancouver's Record This Season: 6-2-2
Calgary's Record This Season: 3-3-2
Calgary's Record Head-To-Head This Year: 0-0-1
Calgary’s Record Head-To-Head Last Year: 3-2-1
Vancouver's Record Last Season: 51-22-9 (1st in Conference)
Canucks Season Scoring Leaders: CLICK HERE
Flames Season Scoring Leaders: CLICK HERE