Will the Vancouver Canucks Overtake the Colorado Avalanche for the Division?

Eric LaForgeCorrespondent IDecember 28, 2009

PHILADELPHIA - DECEMBER 03:  Daniel Sedin #22 of the Vancouver Canucks skates against the Philadelphia Flyers on December 3, 2009 at Wachovia Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Canucks defeated the Flyers 3-0.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

If there's one thing that nobody should do, it's underestimate the lineup the Canucks have. If there's another thing that nobody should do, it's overestimate the lineup the Avs have.

Back in October, the Colorado Avalanche were the talk of the NHL. Their great start surprised everybody, even the experts.

On the complete opposite end of the discussion, you have the Vancouver Canucks, who weren't being talked about at all. It seems like the only headlines they made were from the injuries that they were suffering.

However, we're beginning to see the positions switching between the Avs and Canucks. Slowly, the Avs have lost their hot start, and the Canucks have begun there's.

If you can remember Avs goalie Craig Anderson at the beginning of the season, you would remember that he was on fire. It seemed like nothing could get by him.

He was a top five goalie in save percentage and goals against average for much of October. All of this while Roberto Luongo started the season in a slump.

Once again, everything has been righted with time. The rookie goalie is now in 15th in save percentage and 24th in goals against average. The Colorado defense is not stepping up like they were at the beginning of the season.

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The Canucks have started a climb to the top. Luongo has been playing better, just like all parts of Vancouver's game.

A lot of people I talked to have criticized the Vancouver defense. However, that defense is tied for sixth in the NHL with the Calgary Flames. Both allow an average of 2.46 goals per game. They are also both ahead of San Jose, who is widely thought of as a Stanley Cup contender.

Offensively, the numbers are even better. Vancouver is tied with the Pittsburgh Penguins for fourth place, scoring an average of 3.1 goals per game.

Compare these numbers to the numbers of the Avalanche. The Avs are in seventh in offense, scoring 2.9 goals per game, and are 15th in defense, allowing 2.75 goals per game.

However, the most important statistic that I look at is wins. This is another place that the Canucks beat the Avs. Vancouver has 23 wins, while Colorado has 22, most of those coming at the beginning of the season. This is despite the Avs playing in one more game.

The other team that the Canucks are going to have to worry about is the Calgary Flames. The Flames have held the division lead this year, but have struggle recently, winning only three of their last ten games.

Defensively, the two team are tied. Offensively, it's no contest. The Canucks have the fourth best offense and the Flames have the 15th. We've started to see that lack of production of the last few games.

My point? If you look at the statistics, there's no reason that the Colorado Avalanche should win the division. They are a young team that is developing into a future threat. 

However, their great start at the beginning of the season has caused people to overrate them.

The only concern that I have is the road trip that the Canucks will have to take pretty soon. I'm a little interested to see how they play on the road with a solid lineup. That's something they didn't have back in October and early November.

If the Canucks can get through this road trip, then there shouldn't be anything to stop them from winning the division.

See more of my opinions at Tips for Hockey