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Vancouver vibe

With an 18-8-4 record the Vancouver Canucks sit fourth in the West and second in the Northwest Division, two points behind Colorado with three games in hand. (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images)

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With an 18-8-4 record the Vancouver Canucks sit fourth in the West and second in the Northwest Division, two points behind Colorado with three games in hand. (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Vancouver Canucks were The Hockey News’ pick to win the Stanley Cup this season. After a slow start, we’re seeing why.

Led by the Sedin Bros. (who have combined for 22 goals and 75 points), the Canucks have won three in a row and have lost just once in regulation time in their past 10 games. They don’t rely on their defensemen to do a lot of scoring – only two blueliners (Alex Edler and Christian Ehrhoff) are in their top 13 point-producers – but with talents such as Ryan Kesler (15 goals, 25 points) and Mason Raymond (seven goals, 18 points and three game-winning goals), they don’t need to.

And, of course, no mention of the Canucks would be complete without noting the contribution of goalie Roberto Luongo. The 31-year-old is rounding into form – going 2-0-0 with a 1.46 goals-against average and a .948 save percentage in his past two games.

The Nucks no longer have the league’s top power play – they’re now third overall at 23.8 percent, behind Chicago (24.0) and Colorado (23.9) – but that drop has been offset by a penalty kill that is ranked fifth (85.0). Although Vancouver is a somewhat pedestrian 6-2-2 against the weaker Eastern Conference, they’re 12-6-2 against tougher opponents in the West and 7-1-1 in their own division.

The Canucks won’t have a gigantic, Olympics-caused road trip to deal with this season. But they’re on the road this week for three games against Central Division teams: Monday at St. Louis, Wednesday at Detroit and Thursday at Columbus.

THE HOCKEY NEWS POWER RANKINGS
RK.
TEAM
LW
OVERALL
L10
THE SCOOP

1

Philadelphia Flyers

3

22-7-5

7-1-2

Loss of Chris Pronger would cripple lesser squads, but Flyers have depth and talent to continue to roll

2

Detroit Red Wings

1

20-8-4

4-4-2

Wings have most trouble with Pacific Division teams (6-4-2)

3

Pittsburgh Penguins

2

21-10-2

8-2-0

Sidney Crosby has a 21.1 shooting percentage (26 goals on 123 shots); Evgeni Malkin has an 8.7 shooting percentage (11 goals on 127 shots)

4

Vancouver Canucks

7

18-8-4

8-1-1

Ryan Kesler second on Canucks in goals (15) and power play goals (six), tied for first in game-winners (three)

5

Dallas Stars

8

20-10-3

6-2-2

Stars are 9-2-0 against Eastern Conference teams

6

Boston Bruins

4

17-10-4

5-3-2

Bruins have faced Western Conference teams just four times so far this year and have 1-1-2 mark

7

Montreal Canadiens

5

19-12-2

5-4-1

Habs dominating their division (9-3-0)

8

Tampa Bay Lightning

10

18-10-4

5-3-2

Center Dominic Moore a team-worst minus-17; his career worst is a minus-11 with the Wild in 2007-08

9

Colorado Avalanche

16

19-10-4

6-1-3

Relative unknown David Jones tied for second in Avs goal-scoring with a career-best 11; his previous high was 10 last season

10

Washington Capitals

6

19-12-4

2-6-2

Freefalling Caps deserve to be sworn at by Bruce Boudreau

11

Los Angeles Kings

9

18-12-1

5-4-1

Anze Kopitar is on pace to finish with 37 goals and 84 points – both would be career highs

12

Nashville Predators

14

17-9-6

8-1-1

Sophomore Colin Wilson is nothing if not consistent: last year he had eight goals and 15 points in 35 NHL games; this year, he has seven goals and 14 points in 32 outings.

13

Atlanta Thrashers

11

18-11-5

6-2-2

Thrashers are league’s comeback kids – when the opposition scores first, they have a .615 winning percentage; next closest team is Washington (.476)

14

New York Rangers

12

20-14-1

6-4-0

Loss of Ryan Callahan puts more pressure on Marian Gaborik to succeed

15

Phoenix Coyotes

13

15-9-7

4-4-2

Average shooting percentage of top three Coyotes point-producers is 6.6 percent

16

San Jose Sharks

15

17-11-5

6-3-1

Logan Couture leads Sharks with five game-winning goals

17

Carolina Hurricanes

21

15-12-4

6-2-2

Eric Staal on pace for 42 goals, 86 points; his career best is 45 goals and 100 points in 2005-06

18

Chicago Blackhawks

19

18-14-3

6-3-1

Hawks’ power play now league’s best (24 percent). Penalty kill (a 27th-ranked 79 percent) still a problem

19

St. Louis Blues

18

15-11-5

3-5-2

Blues’ lineup ravaged by rash of injuries

20

Columbus Blue Jackets

17

16-13-3

2-5-3

Goalie Steve Mason is 0-1-0 with a 10.81 goals-against average and .742 save percentage in his past two games

21

Anaheim Ducks

20

17-15-4

5-4-1

Ryan Getzlaf leads Ducks in overtime goals (two), game-winners (four)

22

Minnesota Wild

22

14-13-4

3-5-2

Wild are winless when they out-shoot their opponent

23

Florida Panthers

24

14-16-0

5-5-0

Tomas Vokoun’s save percentage at home is .911; on the road, it’s .930

24

Edmonton Oilers

23

12-14-5

6-3-1

Oilers tied with Thrashers for worst shootout record (1-4)

25

Calgary Flames

27

14-16-3

5-4-1

Only Jarome Iginla (14) and Rene Bourque (13) have more than nine goals for Flames

26

Buffalo Sabres

25

13-16-4

5-4-1

Sabres unbeaten this year in shootouts (3-0)

27

Ottawa Senators

28

14-17-4

3-4-3

Sens have league’s third-worst goals-for/against differential (minus-25)

28

Toronto Maple Leafs

26

12-16-4

4-5-1

Leafs have just one shorthanded goal all season – from Phil Kessel, of all people

29

New Jersey Devils

29

9-21-2

2-8-0

The end seems near for John MacLean

30

New York Islanders

30

6-18-6

2-6-2

Isles still haven’t won a game when trailing after the first period

The Hockey News ranks the teams 1-30 each Monday based on a combination of last week’s play and a squad’s overall outlook.

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