Written by: Larry "The Nucks IceMan" Johnson
Well, it’s as good a time as any to take a look at the eight game home stand currently taking place, as well as the rest of the month for the Vancouver Canucks. Then we’ll take a look at January, because the way the Western Conference is going, this will go a long way in determining where the Canucks end up in the standings.
This year more than any, it will be a grind just to make it into the top eight, as the Western Conference seems more balanced than ever. Positions six through 15 are presently separated by a mere 10 points.
December sees the 'Nucks with the current eight game home stand in which they need to win seven of eight (Washington will be tough to beat) and with their home record, that’s not too much of a stretch. This home stand is then followed by three road games to finish off December.
All opponents in December, except the Washington Capitals, are from the Western Conference, so if the 'Nucks are to move up, they need to win those seven games on the current home stand, and one of three road games in December. That would give them 16 of a possible 22 points, and put them somewhere in the middle of the top eight.
January has no back to back games and of the 13 total games, four are against teams outside of the Western Conference. Of those nine inter-conference games, seven are at home, so five of seven or 10 points is not outside the realm of possibility.
Of the four road games (all are split up by Canuck home games), three are Western Conference teams (Stars, Oilers and Wild) while the other is the Maple Leafs. A split would be realistic, or four points.
That would leave the 'Nucks with 14 of a possible 26 points in January. Now over the past two seasons, January has not been kind to the Canucks (2W in 09 and 4W in 08), so these 14 points would be ultra important.
As everyone knows by now, February sees the start of the lengthy road schedule, with seven games prior to the Olympics, followed by six in March.
That could be the definitive stretch of the season, but only if the home games in December and January are maxed to the utmost for points.
If, and this is a big IF , the Canucks can build up enough points from the home stands, then maybe .500 on the road would put them in position to stay in the top eight and a gain a playoff spot.
As I’ve commented on a number of occasions, this has been one weird season, so why should these next few months be any different?