James C Edgington
December 16 2009 09:47AM
With Christmas just over a week away, most people would be excused if their thoughts were not as focused on work as they normally would be. After all this time of year is meant to be about enjoying the company of family and good food — it’s also a chance to un-wind and recharge the batteries, whilst remembering the true meaning of Christmas.
The Vancouver Canucks cannot afford to focus on anything other than making the most of the three wins they currently have at home. Vancouver is in the 10th spot in the West tied with Dallas. Both teams have 38 points, just one point shy of Detroit in 8th. With a game every other night until the 23rd, the Canucks need to extend the three-game streak they currently have with games against Anaheim, Washington, St Louis and Nashville this week. A win in each of those would make the job much easier after the Christmas break.
A week ago, the situation was rather dire with the Canucks losing consecutive games to Carolina and Nashville. Things seemed to have reached a boiling point that saw Luongo and his assistants call an on-ice meeting during practice. A few days’ later, tensions seemed even worse as Mitchell and Kesler came to blows and fists went flying. Luckily for the Canucks, things have been resolved now and the outlook is much brighter.
When Vancouver faces the Ducks in their next game they will play an opponent that's surprisingly last in the Western Conference. Anaheim is currently on a four-game road trip. The Ducks' last game was on the 12th, where they were able to beat the Blue Jackets 3-1. Anaheim’s current win percentage on the road is 0.423, which places them 23rd in the league for wins in that category.
Vancouver has a respectable home win percentage that makes them 3rd in the league with wins at home. While a win against the Ducks may seem easy, it's not guaranteed. The last time the teams met the Ducks won 7-2. The Canucks will need to keep an eye out for Ducks forward Dan Sexton who is currently on a hot streak; he has a point during his last three games. Sexton has been added to the line up to replace the injured Teemu Selanne who has an injury to his hand.
A win against the Ducks will increase Vancouver’s confidence and prepare them for the game on Friday when they do battle with Washington. That game could prove to be very tough as the Capitals have one of the best records in the league.
The keys for success during the home stand will be continuing the style of play from the three previous games. This will mean that the Sedin line dominates offensively and the 2nd line will also be required to carry the load.
The Sedins and Mason Raymond all have a point in the last three games. Henrik Sedin is third in the NHL in scoring. Kesler, Burrows and Samuelsson all have a point in two of their last three games. Players like Bernier, Beiksa, Salo and O’Brien have been helping to contribute to the team’s current winning performance. Unfortunately, Wellwood is still struggling to find any of the offensive talent he displayed last season. He could find himself once again sitting in the press box during the next game. If he is unable to snap out of this complete lack of production, he may well be looking for a job by the end of next season, which could quite possibly mean playing in Europe.
If Vancouver can remain focused with the job at hand and proceed to do the little things right, this stretch of home games could prove to be rather positive for Vancouver, which would prepare the team for the next half of the season. Obviously, Vancouver fans would like nothing more than to see the Canucks end this year on a high note. With the way Vancouver played in the previous three games those fans might have a good Christmas.