Canucks saluting the fans after clinching the President's Trophy
With that win (their 52nd of the year), the Canucks clinched the President's Trophy with a week left in the regular season, capping a dominant 2010-2011 campaign.
At the moment, the Canucks are 14 points up on their nearest Western Conference rival (San Jose).
The Canucks have the highest goals per game (3.19) and lowest goals against per game (2.20) in the NHL.
They dominate on special teams with the best power play in the NHL (24.7 percent) and the best penalty kill (86.6 percent).
They also have the best face-off percentage at 55.1 percent, despite losing Manny Malhotra for the season.
The Canucks have the best home record (26-8-5) and the best road record (26-9-4). Their goal differential of +76 is head and shoulders above the next best team, Boston at +50.
If you want to talk about individual achievements, Daniel Sedin was the first player to hit 100 points this season (and might be the only player to do so). He is eight points up on Marty St. Louis; he could comfortably take the next week off and still win the Art Ross.
Henrik Sedin is slacking compared to his Art Ross winning pace from last year, but still should comfortably finish second or third in the NHL scoring race while leading the NHL in assists, which isn't too shabby.
Ryan Kesler should win the Selke, with his 37 goals, +22 rating and 57.4 percent face-off percentage while leading the Canucks forwards in total ice time (20:35) and short handed ice time (2:31); he is also my pick for the Hart as the MVP of the best team, but they usually award that to the scoring winner (cue Daniel Sedin)
Roberto Luongo leads the NHL in wins, but he won't win the Vezina—that goes to Tim Thomas. He and backup Cory Schneider will have to settle on the Jennings trophy for least goals allowed over the season.
At this point, those impressive regular season stats I listed off above? They matter as much as stats from preseason games.
Awards and trophies are nice, but as numerous Canucks have stated in the last few weeks, the real prize can't be won until June.
Coach Alain Vigneault said it best when asked repeatedly by the media about the race for the President's trophy. Winning the President's Trophy was a goal that was set back in training camp, but just like winning the Northwest Division and then the Western Conference were stepping stones to the President's Trophy, the regular season is merely a stepping stone to the ultimate goal—hoisting the Stanley Cup in June.
Coaches like to talk about "the process." Win or lose, it is the little things you do every shift that really matter, because if you do the little things right, you set yourself up for success.
Well, the same thinking applies on a bigger scale to the entire season. Winning the President's Trophy (and having a good regular season) were goals set last summer because they help build towards the ultimate goal of playoff success.
If the Canucks can go deep into the playoffs, then the regular season achievements are a bonus.
If they fail to go deep (or get bounced by Chicago for a third year in a row), then it'll be a bittersweet awards ceremony in Vegas—and a long offseason.