the end of a great season and two in-form teams face off with nothing at stake,
except some franchise and club records,
as the Flames host the Canucks.
into the final game of 2010-11 the Vancouver Canucks are first or second in
every major statistical category in the NHL.
It truly is a breathtaking list of achievements (topped with their first
ever Presidents' Trophy). They lead the
league on Goals For (that's 259 of them) and Goals Against (183 of those),
their 24.2 percent power play ranks 1st and their penalty kill, 2nd, at 85.9
percent (and they're just .06 off the league-leading Pittsburgh Penguins). Plus rookies Michael Grabner, Logan Couture
and Jeff Skinner all collected 30-goals in their first NHL season.
all means that the Canucks, despite being untouchable in their table topping
position (8 points ahead of Washington and 12 points ahead of San Jose) still
have things to play for on Saturday night.
all the plaudits and praise, Vancouver, for some strange reason, went and lost
twice to the Edmonton Oilers, of all people.
That's the same Edmonton Oilers who are the WORST team in the NHL this
year. While the home loss was predicable
(to some at least)
a double victory by the Oilers (especially one where they shut the Canucks out,
was a surprise). Just as the rumours of
a slump due to complacency were being sharpened the Canucks bounced back, and
in some style too.
Kesler (who had only scored once in nine games) responded with three goals as
the Canucks went on a rampage against the Minnesota Wild on Thursday night,
going out 5-0 winners. It was also a memorable night for Daniel
Sedin who picked up two assists in that game and has moved five points ahead of
Anaheim’s Corey Perry in the race for the Art Ross trophy. Between the pipes,
Roberto Luongo made 29 saves to make his 55th career shutout. The sudden reversal of form will likely have
cost some sportsbooks dear.
Flames will not go gently.
the Calgary Flames fight for the playoffs falling short (for the second season in a
row), the form that they showed in their push for a top eight finish has won
them much praise and they can skate out on Saturday night with their collective
head held high. The Flames have gone
5-3-2 in their last 10 games overall and have won three on the bounce.
Calgary’s offense has been led by a mighty
pairing of Jarome Iginla and Alex Tanguay, who have both recorded eight points
in their last three games, while Mikael Backlund has three points in two.
"It's tough to not make playoffs but it's a pretty good feeling the last
few months in the room," goalie Miikka Kiprusoff said.
Wednesday night (a stylish 6-1 victory over the Oilers), Kiprusoff tied the
mighty Mike Vernon for the Flames' franchise record for most wins by a
goaltender with victory No. 262. He has
the chance to take the record with a win on Saturday.
backing the Flames to be a dampened blaze when they face the all-conquering
Canucks. Tempting as it is to throw the
stats out the window at this stage of the season, it has to be acknowledged
that Vancouver are 22-7 in their last 29 games on the road and are 6-1 in their
last seven games against the Flames.
Plus in the five regular season meetings between these Northwest
Division rivals it's 4-1 to Vancouver.
Looks like the NHL odds makers got this one correct. It's
been a great season, but ultimately it's a Canucks season!
Prediction: Vancouver win 5-3