The Vancouver Canucks have an outstanding division record, and that should provide a boost of confidence when they hit the ice on Saturday for a road clash against the Calgary Flames.
Heading into the New Year’s Eve nightcap, the Canucks have a 10-2-0 mark against Pacific Division foes. It is an impressive achievement for a Vancouver team with a 16-16-3 record that will be at least a half-dozen points outside of a playoff spot at puck drop.
The Canucks need that positive energy after their three-game winning streak was snapped in a disappointing 4-2 loss to the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday. the result also ended Vancouver’s seven-game road winning streak.
Oddly enough for a team that has struggled to keep pucks out of the net, the issue according to coach Bruce Boudreau was that his squad lacked offensive push.
“We started to focus a little too much on defense and not on offense at all,” Boudreau said.
The Canucks have a couple of other aspects in their favor heading into the Flames game. Vancouver took the first meeting of the season, a 4-3 shootout win in Calgary on Dec. 14.
Plus, the Canucks have produced a strong offensive attack of late, led by captain Bo Horvat and his 26 goals, while Elias Pettersson, who leads the Canucks with 43 points, has a four-game streak in which he has collected three goals and six assists.
They can top it off with renewed motivation.
“As the (Jets) game got going on, they elevated and we didn’t. We weren’t able to match it,” Vancouver forward Curtis Lazar said. “The urgency throughout the game just wasn’t there.”
Speaking of divisional success, the Flames (who are 7-3-2 in division games) are coming off a 3-2 road victory over the Seattle Kraken on Wednesday. Calgary is on a 4-1-1 run in its past six outings, all against Pacific Division teams.
“We needed the two points,” Flames forward Andrew Mangiapane said of beating Seattle. “Everybody came out really strong and we worked well as a team. That’s how we need to play. We need to come out and win those close games.”
Calgary has fallen short of expectations so far this season, but the Flames — who have a 7-3-4 record in their past 14 games — see plenty of positives from the past few weeks.
“We had a good road trip before Christmas, and I think we can’t look back,” Flames left winger Jonathan Huberdeau said. “We just gotta play better, play well defensively that’s the strength usually of our team and that’s how we are going to win. We have a lot of older guys on the team, a mature team and that’s gotta show too on the ice.”
The Flames saw another bright light in the Seattle win. Huberdeau struggled with his new team in the first couple of months but is finding his form. A notorious pass-first player, Huberdeau scored the game-winning goal in Seattle and now has collected seven points (two goals, five assists) in the past six games.
“Its going to come, shooting more. It’s been better the past few games and I got to build on that,” said Huberdeau, who was roundly criticized for passing up scoring chances a couple of weeks ago. “When you get a lot of chances, you are going to get some shots. … I gotta obviously keep it more simple, get some more shots and the confidence will come, too.”
–Field Level Media