Canucks have to put aside distraction and beat the Hawks tonight
I know I would be distracted, having Sundin in the back of my mind. You can tell that Roberto Luongo was aware of the possibility when he was interviewed about Sundin. He said basically that the signing is great but the Canucks have to focus right now and win some games before Mats arrives.
I hope the Sundin-signing fuels this team.
Curtis Sanford will start again tonight, and he and the team need to get on a roll. The biggest reason is that the Canucks are now 2nd in the Northwest Division because the Flames got a point in their OT loss last night. This drops the Canucks to 5th in the West, 5 points ahead of 8th place Phoenix, 6 points ahead of 9th and 10th placed Nashville and Colorado. Ah the pressure is on. Look at the records of these teams in their past 10 games. Yeesh. It's a dog fight.
I had mentioned that the Canucks needed to play 500 hockey in Luongo's absence and they are close. 5 wins in 11 games. A win tonight obviously then puts them at 500. I think Luongo could be out about another month. Thank god there is a Christmas and Allstar break in there PLUS a Sundin entrance. There is reason to be positive. There is also reason for concern. We play the Hawks, Ducks and Sharks in our next 3 games. Tough stuff.
Let's take a quick look at Chicago in point form.
-make no mistake, I have liked the Hawks since the early 80's (big Tony Esposito-Denis Savard fan), but tonight they are the enemy. And this enemy is rolling.
-Chicago has won 6 straight, outscoring their opponents by a whopping 28-9 margin in the process. They are now tops in the NHL in goals for per game.
-the Hawks have also won 7 of their last 8 and gained at least a point in 8 straight
-they have 11 power play goals in the past 8 games (now 4th best in the NHL). They have only allowed 3 power play goals against in those games. And you wonder why they're rolling...
-Patrick Kane: 15 goals and 38 points in 30 games. Look at how spread out their scoring is past Kane. Impressive.
-Nikolai Khabibulin: once trade bait...no longer. He has played 16 games and has compiled a 10-1-4 record with a 2.44 GAA and a .922 save percentage. Huet? Not so good.
Having said that, over the past 8 games Huet has won 4 games and Khabibulin 3.
-while the Canucks are near the League basement in shots per game, the Hawks are 6th best.
Am I scaring you yet?
It is going to take a well-disciplined game from the Canucks and a steal of a game by Curtis Sanford to stop this Hawks team. A character win over the Hawks would be such a boost to Vancouver, let alone Sanford.
T Tags: Canucks+Blackhawks+game+preview December+20+2008