What's Behind the Vancouver Canucks' Six-Game Winning Streak?

Nicholas Goss@@NicholasGoss35Correspondent IFebruary 15, 2013

The Vancouver Canucks are the hottest team in the NHL with a league-high six-game winning streak that can be attributed to spectacular goaltending, strong defense and a balanced offense.

The Canucks are in third place in the Western Conference standings and lead the Northwest Division with 18 points.

They are also the only team in their division above .500 over the last 10 games. If this trend continues, Vancouver could start to widen its lead in the Northwest and take a huge step toward the team's fifth straight division title in the next few weeks.

What's behind the Canucks' impressive winning streak? Let's find out.


Strong Third Periods

The Canucks are dominating third periods, which is the sign of a great team. Vancouver has allowed six third-period goals this season, which is the third-fewest total in the league.

During its six-game winning streak, Vancouver has given up just two goals in the final 20 minutes. When the Canucks lead after two periods, they are 6-0-2.

The Canucks are finishing games and making sure they don't drop important points that could prevent them from earning a top three seed in this year's Western Conference playoffs.

Since they play so well at Rogers Arena (5-1-1 thus far), it's important for this team to have home-ice advantage in at least one playoff series.

Vancouver is a veteran team with a lot of experience, and part of what makes this group so tough to play against is the fact that they don't make many mistakes in the third period. Teams have to play their best hockey to beat the Canucks in the final 20 minutes.


Great Goaltending

It doesn't matter who the No. 1 goaltender is in Vanouver because both Roberto Luongo and Cory Schneider are playing at a high level this season.

They have a great relationship and trust head coach Alain Vigneault to make the right decision on who to start each game.

Here are their stats during this winning streak:

Luongo 4 4-0-0 4 .961 1
Schneider 2 2-0-0 2 .965 0

Luongo and Schneider are without question the best goaltending duo in the league, and it wouldn't be surprising if they win the William M. Jennings Trophy for finishing the season with the fewest goals against.

At the moment, the Canucks rank third in goals against and have the second-best goal differential in the NHL.

The team's goaltending is also largely responsible for helping Vancouver give up the fewest mount of even-strength goals (10) this season.

With the Canucks' power-play not being as successful as it has been in years past (currently 18th in the league), having great success 5-on-5 (plus-11 goal differential) has been a huge plus for this team.

The combination of consistently strong goaltender and dominating third period play has made the Canucks unbeatable over the last two weeks.


A Balanced Offense

The Canucks won't make it back to the Stanley Cup Final if they don't get enough offensive production from their second, third and fourth lines.

Early in the season, these lines weren't producing, but that's changed during this impressive winning streak. As the chart below shows, Vancouver is getting scoring from a lot of different guys during this winning streak.

Player G A P
Mason Raymond 1 4 5
Chris Tanev 1 1 2
Jordon Schroeder 2 1 3
Jannick Hansen 3 1 4
Maxim Lapierre 1 2 3
Chris Higgins 2 1 3

Without top-six forwards David Booth and Ryan Kesler in the lineup because of injuries, these players must play a larger role on offense, and in this winning streak they have provided the team with the scoring depth needed to win games consistently.

A Canucks team with three or four quality lines will be very tough to beat in the playoffs, especially with their goaltenders playing at a high level.

One of the reasons why they didn't win the Stanley Cup in 2011 against the Boston Bruins was their lack of scoring from the third and fourth lines.

Seeing their bottom-nine playing well and creating offense is an encouraging sign for Vigneault and general manager Mike Gillis as they prepare for the return of Kesler, which according to TSN'S Bob McKenzie, could be Friday night.


Nicholas Goss is an NHL Lead Writer at Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter.


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