The Vancouver Canucks have claimed their spot atop the Pacific Division after blasting the San Jose Sharks Saturday night by a final score of 4-1.
The victory was a convincing one, bolstered by a disproportionate 39-18 shot total for the home team.
The Canucks are winners of 11 of their last 14 and go into their All-Star break with one of their most dominant looks of the season. Not a bad way to go.
The Sharks were without a win on their road trip and are 21-25-4 ahead of their own break. They only squeezed off seven shots in the first two periods Saturday and, by all accounts, seem to be a team trending in the wrong direction.
The Canucks may not be atop the Pacific for long, as they’re just a point ahead of a bundle of teams. The Edmonton Oilers, Calgary Flames, Arizona Coyotes, and Vegas Golden Knights all have 57 points to Vancouver’s 58. That’s pretty much already set the table. The Oilers play the Flames next Wednesday, while the Coyotes get the Anaheim Ducks on the same day. Only Vegas plays before then, so these standings could shift somewhat if they knock off the Bruins Tuesday.
But for now, the Canucks hold that spot.
“I think we’ve gotten to a level that not a lot of people expected us to get to so fast,” defenceman Tyler Myers said. “We just want to ride that momentum, but make sure we keep doing the same things. That’s the most important thing. (The playoff race) is going to come right down to the end; it always does. As long as we keep our heads down and keep pushing forward, I think we have a really good team in this room.”
The Canucks have been able to recalibrate a touch after a bad loss to Buffalo and a brutal Florida swing, but then December did carry a seven-game win streak and that was something to remember. Since the Florida swing – which featured a 9-2 trouncing at the hands of the Lightning – Vancouver’s been 4-1. The loss was against Winnipeg, a game in which the Canucks still carried the shots total by a wide margin.
So they’ve been generating chances and keeping the tempo up, which is generally a good way to entertain and win hockey games.
The Canucks may have amassed some 201 losses over the last four seasons, but they’re earning some hay now. They’ll send Elias Pettersson, Jacob Markstrom and Quinn Hughes to the All-Star Game and then suit up again at home against the St. Louis Blues.
In the meantime, they’ll enjoy the view.
Photo credit: Darryl Dyck/CP