Quick Thinking: Nov. 27

Another rainy day in Vancouver, but spirits aren’t so damp in Canuckland after another great outing against the Sharks, making it four wins in a row for the Canucks.  Though Schneider bailed them out at times with his stellar play, the team looks to have finally returned to form.  Here’s a few quick thoughts to wrap up the week:

- It’s amazing what a few wins will do for you in the Western Conference. A four game unbeaten streak gives the Canucks 27 points and has vaulted them from 11th to 6th, putting them just two points back of Minnesota for the lead in the Northwest. No time to slow down though, as only three points separate Vancouver from the 11th place Predators.  Still a ways to go to catch the hated Hawks, too, who sit atop the West with 31 points.

- Looks like a few Canucks have finally found there mojo: Two goals in two games has Manny Malhotra playing with confidence again. Ryan Kesler seems to have that familiar swagger back and his points show it with 5 in his last 4. David Booth is looking dangerous again and that’s earned him back his spot on the second line with Higgs and Kes.  Oh yeah, and then there’s that Schneider guy.

- Not going to throw any fuel on the Schneider vs. Luongo fire, just going to sit back and relish the embarrassment of riches we have between the pipes.

- Hoping the news on Alex Edler isn’t too bad. To date, Edler is third on the team in scoring with 16 points, he averages almost 24 minutes of ice time per game, and is a pillar on both the PK and PP. No offense to Aaron Rome, but that’s pretty difficult to replace. (UPDATE:  Edler says he is good to go for Tuesday’s game, wouldn’t disclose nature of injury.  Alex Burrows is questionable after taking a Joe Thornton slash to the hand; if he can’t go, rumor is Mason Raymond will take his spot.)

- Really looking forward to Mason Raymond’s return, though it brings up a fantastic debate: where do you put him? Short term, my money is the third line with Manny and CoHo; Wiese or Volpatti are the likely candidates to lose their spot, and nothing against Hansen, but he seems a better fit with Lapierre on the physical fourth line than does Hodgson. Putting him in the bottom six also gives Raymond time to ease into game shape and takes pressure off him having to contribute right away. Long term, however, you have to wonder if Gillis is shopping anyone around. He did hint after trading Samuelsson that there were too many guys and not enough roster spots to go around…

- Grey Cup goes today at BC Place, with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers taking on our own BC Lions. Not a huge CFL guy, but hard to deny the awesome season the Leos have had, and the future looks bright with the CFL’s Most Outstanding Player Travis Lulay at pivot. GO LIONS GO!

Here’s a quick look at next week’s matchups for the Canucks:

Tuesday Nov. 29th vs. Columbus Blue Jackets: Not much has changed for the woeful Jackets this month, having gone 4-4-2 in November. The Canucks better not take this team lightly, however, as they’ve lost only once in their last four games (a shootout loss to New Jersey), and have outscored their opponents 14-6 in those games. Vancouver won their only meeting this year on Oct. 10 in Columbus 3-2.

Thursday Dec. 1st vs. Nashville Predators: The Preds have been in a funk lately, dropping four straight. They play back to back games next week against the Alberta teams before coming to Vancouver, so it’s hard to say if they’ll have time to turn things around before playing the Canucks (they’ve lost both their games against the Oilers this year, but shutout Calgary back in October). Vancouver thumped the Preds in their first rematch since the West Semis by a score of 5-1.

Sunday Dec. 4th vs. Calgary Flames: Bad week for Flames fans. After a convincing win over the Blackhawks last Friday, Calgary dropped all three games since by a combined score of 11-4. They play Minnesota tonight and the aforementioned Predators Tuesday before meeting the Canucks, whom they lost to back on November 1st 5-1.

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