A Fifty-Fifty Start
The Canucks are halfway through a crucial stretch of the season. Vancouver has completed half of the pre-Olympics portion of their 14-game road trip and have picked up 4 of a possible 8 points after coming back from 2 goals down against the Boston Bruins this afternoon to win in the shootout.
For the fourth consecutive game of this trip the Canucks surrendered the first goal of the game. In fact, in all four contests Vancouver has allowed at least two first period goals with goals in the first and last few minutes of the opening frame. In Toronto they managed to come back from 3-0 down to win but weren't so fortunate in Montreal and Ottawa. In Boston, who headed into the game on a nine game losing streak, the Canucks once again fell behind early but managed to come back.
The Canucks were fortunate to be able to come back in Toronto and Boston otherwise this trip would have a completely different feel to it. The team now heads to the Southeast division where they will take on the Tampa Bay Lightning and Florida Panthers before finishing off against the Columbus Blue Jackets and Minnesota Wild to round out the trip. Vancouver will need at minimum to go .500 in these final four games in order to maintain their lead in the Northwest but should be looking to pick up 3 wins or perhaps sweep the final four.
After the Olympic break, things get real tough for Vancouver. The first half was considered by many to be the easy part. 8 games spread out over 2 weeks against an Eastern Conference that the Canucks had feasted on. The second half is whole other monster as Vancouver will return from the Olympic break playing 8 games in 13 days (with the first 6 being on the road) including 3 sets of back to back contests. The teams they face will be much tougher as well as they take on teams like the Calgary Flames, Detroit Red Wings, Chicago Blackhawks and Colorado Avalanche. Therefore it is vital for the Canucks to finish this first half strong and build as much of a cushion as they can heading into the Olympic break.
Before the road trip began, the Canucks held an 8 point lead over both the Calgary Flames and Detroit Red Wings, who sat in 8th and 9th in the West. With a 7-7-0 record during the trip the Flames and Wings would need a 10-1-3 record over the same 14 game stretch just to tie the Canucks (who would still own the first tiebreaker of games won). So far, the Flames have gone 3-2-0 and the Wings have gone 2-2-1.