Fan Fuel: Five Canucks storylines to follow (Division dominance continues)

February 12, 2013, 11:06 AM

BY ISRAEL FEHR – FAN FUEL BLOGGER

1. Goaltending: Maybe Alain Vigneault’s short-term solution to his goaltending conundrum is to have Cory Schneider and Roberto Luongo simply alternate weeks. Schneider returned to the Vancouver goal this past week and backstopped the Canucks to two wins, while it’s already been announced that Luongo will start Tuesday’s game against the Wild. Through three weeks this is what can be deduced – the Canucks have two quality goalies they can turn to and trust they will play well. Schneider has posted a 1.60 GAA and a .947 save percentage in his last five starts. In his last five, Luongo’s stats are equally impressive, (1.40 GAA and .949 save percentage). As far as trade rumours are concerned, GM Mike Gillis told Brad Ziemer of The Vancouver Sun that he is comfortable keeping both netminders for the duration of the season. Gillis also said he would only consider making a move if he felt it would put the team in a better position to compete for the Stanley Cup.

2. North of Northwest: The title fits because the Canucks are a class above the rest of the Northwest division. Vancouver has crushed their divisional competition this year; they’re a combined 5-0-1 against Edmonton, Calgary, Colorado, and Minnesota. Also not to fall victim to small sample size, but Vancouver is the only team in the Northwest with a positive goal differential (plus-nine) and that is a trend that should continue. Vancouver’s dominance over their division is nothing new; they have a 71-22-9 record against the Northwest since 2008-2009. After Tuesday’s game against Minnesota, the schedule does get slightly more difficult, as the Canucks don’t play a division rival again until March 3rd.

3. Power(less) Play: The Canucks have won five straight but in no part to their power play. In those five games, Vancouver’s success rate is 12.5 percent (3/24) and overall they’re converting just 16.1 percent of their opportunities. Newell Brown, the assistant coach in charge of the power play unit, is making changes hoping to spark better production. Daniel Sedin was deployed on the left point for the first time in Saturday’s 5-1 win over Calgary and Jordan Schroeder led the team in ice time with the man advantage at 4:51.

4. Jordan Schroeder: Speaking of Schroeder, Saturday’s win was his coming out party. He scored his first career NHL goal and added a second for good measure. The 22-year-old has been a pleasant surprise so far this season. He is asserting himself nicely between Mason Raymond and Jannik Hansen as the second line centre and earning time on the power play. He is skating well alongside a couple of speedsters and his stature, Schroder is five-foot-nine, has not been a factor. Most importantly, he has impressed Coach Vigneault by demonstrating a responsible two-way game. Even when Ryan Kesler returns from injury and reclaims his spot on the second line, Schroeder is making a case that he deserves to stay in the lineup regardless.

5. Head on for History: Henrik Sedin’s two assists in the win over Calgary put him one point shy of fellow Örnsköldsvik, Sweden native Markus Naslund’s team record of 756. Sedin has yet to score this season but he has accumulated eight assists in 11 games. The Canucks captain has three games at home next week to break the mark in front of the Vancouver faithful.

Related read:

More NHL: Top 5 Maple Leafs storylines

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