Streaking Canucks still behind competition 0
Vancouver Canucks defenseman Yannick Weber (6) and a trainer look on as goaltender Roberto Luongo (1) tries to recover after getting hit in the neck with a puck during the third period against the Boston Bruins at Rogers Arena Dec 14, 2013. The Vancouver Canucks won 6-2. (Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports)
A Christmas miracle or just finally getting those bounces, the Vancouver Canucks are on a bit of a roll.
Ok, maybe that's an understatement.
With seven straight wins, the Canucks are the hottest team in the NHL thanks to their perfect December so far.
Sure, along the way they've dealt with easier teams in the Nashville Predators and the Edmonton Oilers, along with two wins over the Eastern Conference's Carolina Hurricanes. But their emphatic 6-2 victory Saturday against the Boston Bruins was enough to show that this team has truly found their game.
"In a long season that we play in, and the ups and downs the players go through, that's encouraging," Canucks head coach John Tortorella said following the entertaining clash between the 2011 Stanley Cup finalists. "It can't be a home-stand-type thing that has to follow us around if we're going to continue to compete."
Goaltending has been superb for Vancouver over their recent stretch, allowing just eight goals in the last seven games while now having given up the six fewest goals in the league.
Credit, of course, also goes to the defence, which is quietly doing their job. The team has allowed the eighth fewest shots per game overall, are ninth in blocked shots, and 11th in takeaways.
But the biggest statistical category that the Canucks really care about is wins and points.
Even though they have put together a stellar streak — including a 5-0 stretch at home — Vancouver is certainly finding it tough to make up ground in the Western Conference.
Prior to Monday's schedule, the team sat sixth in the West, one point behind the San Jose Sharks and eight points back of the league-leading Chicago Blackhawks.
It also doesn't help that the other teams are having strong stretches as well.
The 'Hawks have won four of their last five, while the second-ranked Anaheim Ducks are winners of five straight. The Kings are 6-1 and sit third — giving a glimpse of just how difficult it is to stay in the pack.
Tuesday, the Canucks are in Minnesota, facing a Wild team who are two points behind them in the standings. Their former Northwest Division rivals, now toiling in the Central Division, have lost three of their last five, but are coming off a 2-1 victory over the Colorado Avalanche.
The two sides meet for the first time this season after splitting their four matchups last season.
"I'm happy with how we responded on a number of different situations during this home stand," Tortorella said. "We've got a pretty tough contest against Minnesota."