Early on in the season, it seemed like some tough playoff moments might have broken Roberto Luongo’s psyche. The Vancouver Canucks didn’t seem so hot, either, beyond the clockwork reliability of the Sedin twins.
Much like their fellow 2011 Stanley Cup finalists in Boston, the Canucks have straightened things out to the point that they’re back alongside the league’s elites. Vancouver widened their Northwest Division lead over the Minnesota Wild by five points thanks to Luongo’s 3-0 shutout and rose to the No. 1 spot in the NHL’s standings in the process.
Naturally, the standings can be deceiving given imbalanced amounts of games played at this point. Here’s a quick-and-dirty look at the league’s top five teams based on points:
Vancouver: 25-13-3 for 53 points (41 games played)
Rangers: 24-9-4 for 52 points (37 GP)
Chicago: 24-11-4 for 52 points (39 GP)
Boston: 25-10-1 for 51 points (36 GP)
Detroit: 25-13-1 for 51 points (39 GP)
As you can see, the four teams “below” the Canucks have at least two games to vault over them. At this point in the season, it’s doubtful that these teams are doing much scoreboard watching, although the Blackhawks and Red Wings might be the exception since they’re in the same Central Division.
The big picture takeaway is still very positive for the Canucks, though. Luongo is playing well enough to (temporarily) silence his critics and support players are easing some of the scoring burden on the Sedins.
After those early hiccups, it seems likely that the Canucks are going to be fixtures once the playoffs roll around.