Well here we are heading into the second half of the season and all looks promising. You have Louie playing at the top of his game, scoring coming from two lines and sometimes the third line, and Henrik Sedin making a push to win the scoring title.
Can you believe Hank! What a season so far.
As I mentioned several articles ago, during that eight game home stand, I thought the Canucks needed to win seven of eight. Well they didn’t do too badly as they came away with six of eight.
Now another key home stand awaits the Nucks as they have nine of 13 games at home and of course four away. None of the games are back to back and the away games are all singles and then it’s back home.
With the way this team is playing, seven of nine is not out of the realm of accomplishing and of those seven that the Nucks need to win, they are against Western Conference teams. Let’s not look to February as yet, as this month (January) will set the tone for the road trip extraordinaire!
Depth is the praise that I sung right out of training camp and with the loss of Kevin Bieksa for two to three months, that’s why GM Mike Gillis went out and signed all those defensemen. Here I was worried that nine Dmen would be too many and low and behold, Mathieu Schneider makes it all so simple, when he decided that at 40 years of age, he thought he was 30 again.
Not so Mr. Schneider, as time has a way of catching up and besides, you never excelled at the defensive side of the game.
Enter Brad Lukowich, who was picked up from San Jose with Christian Ehrhoff but had been sent down to Manitoba and then loaned to Texas of the AHL. Nothing flashy with Lukowich, but he plays good D and if spelled properly as a rotating six/seven man, will be better than Schneider would have been.
My man Shane O’Brien, will most likely gobble up some of Bieksa’s minutes and Aaron Rome will slide into the sixth spot, with Lukowich most likely rotating with him.
Bobby Lou looks like he’s on roll right now and it couldn’t have come at a better time. The special teams power play is still clicking away in the top of the NHL and maybe, just maybe, that penalty kill will work itself up into the top ten.
In my mind, the penalty kill is going to be a key factor along with the road record, if the Canucks have any intention of making the playoffs, and doing some damage.
The long awaited return of Pavol Demitra is about two weeks away and if, and that’s another big “IF” he can stay healthy and add to the already Nucks scoring machine, than this team may have three lines.
Did I say “three lines”? That would be a first since the ‘94 Nucks that went…dare I say it, to the Stanley Cup finals.
Enter stage right Demitra, exit stage left Kyle Wellwood. Let’s not forget that Michael Grabner is back with Manitoba and putting up the points again.
Since returning to the Moose on Dec. 19, in five games he has scored three goals, one assist and is a +6 overall. How long can they keep Grabner down on the farm?
I still think the Canucks need another Ryan Malone type player, because as I have preached all season, and the seasons before that, this team is not big or tough enough to play with the San Jose Sharks and Chicago Blackhawks of the Western Conference.
I also feel that a healthy Demitra might fetch someone of that Malone type, just before the trading deadline. Since there are still so many teams still jockeying for a playoff spot, no one is going to swing a significant deal until then.
Might the Atlanta Thrashers be a seller with IIya Kovalchuk, if they think they can not resign him? Another player I think the Canucks should look at is Thrashers’ Colby Armstrong, who will also become a UFA at the end of this season, but that’s a story for another time.
One down, six more to go! Let’s hear you Canucks Nation!