On January 30th the Vancouver Canucks started what was to be the longest road trip in NHL history. During this time they traveled a total of 20,737 kilometers. The first game of the colossal fourteen game expedition began with a win against the Leafs, it ended on March 10th with an overtime loss to Phoenix. In a span of fourteen games the team finished with a respectable 8-5-1 record, the final outcome of this journey could have ended much worse, especially when you consider that Vancouver have been playing without two of it’s best defensemen.
Like most huge excursions there were many highs and lows. During the Olympics, Luongo was able to feel perhaps the ultimate high, when he helped Canada win the gold. Prior to Canada’s hockey victory there where people who felt that if Luongo was part of such a great achievement he could prove some of his doubters wrong. Certain people have often felt that Luongo really hadn’t done enough during his career to be considered one of the best keepers in the league. In his last game before the Olympics Luongo allowed five goals against the Wild. Since his return he has given up three or more goals a game, apart from the March 7th game against the Predators where the puck ended in his net on just two occasions.
Fortunately Luongo’s teammates have proved that they are more than capable of winning games for their net minder. In most one-sided games where a team has a huge lead over its opponents it’s usually safe to assume that a come back is out of the question. Recently the Canucks have won that many games when the team has had to come from behind, that Vancouver seems to have perfected a new art form, the Canucks are currently the NHL’s comeback kings.
When Vancouver’s two most prolific scorers the Sedin twins found themselves in a scoring slump which until this week looked likely to continue the Canucks still managed to find ways to win games. Players like Kesler have really contributed to the team’s success. Since January 30th Kesler has scored a point or more in thirteen of the fourteen games while on the road.
Unlike, the twins, Kesler and Luongo, Mikael Samuelsson didn’t represent his country in the winter games. Before Samuelsson took an Olympic break he struggled to score goals, only scoring three during the initial half of the road swing. He has lit the lamp in the last five games scoring his first NHL hatrick this Tuesday.
During this mammoth voyage it’s clear that the players pulled together and helped each other out, when it was needed, allowing the team to overcome the rigors of being away from familiar surroundings where fatigue is not the only concern.
This coming Saturday the Canucks will play their first game on home ice since January 27th when the team hosts the Senators. The Senators won their last game against the Oilers and will face the Flames before meeting the Canucks. Vancouver last met Ottawa on February 4th in a 3-1 loss for the Canucks, like every game this wont be easy.
The longest road trip in NHL history is finally over with just fifteen games remaining. For Vancouver the really journey has not begun, it wont be completed until Lord Stanley’s Cup is won.