Key week ahead for the Canucks, who need to keep the wins coming

AP
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When we last checked in on the Vancouver Canucks, they were desperate for wins, but hoping the return of defenseman Alex Edler would give them a boost.

They haven’t lost since.

And in beating three pretty good teams — the Kings, Ducks, and Oilers — they’ve set themselves up for a nice winning streak.

This week, they host Colorado, Arizona, and Calgary.

“We have got lots of confidence in the group right now,” forward Bo Horvat told reporters after Saturday’s 3-2 shootout victory in Edmonton. “It has been a long time since we have won three straight, and a while since we have had a fairly healthy lineup. To get some guys back in on the back end and be rolling up front, it gives us lots of confidence.”

Indeed, the Canucks’ back end does look a lot better with their two best defensemen, Edler and Chris Tanev, healthy again. Recall that disastrous finish in Carolina three weeks ago when Vancouver’s six d-men were Erik Gudbranson, Luca Sbisa, Ben Hutton, Troy Stecher, Alex Biega and Nikita Tryamkin.

Gudbranson is hurt now, but Edler and Stecher form an effective top duo, followed by Tanev and Sbisa on the second pairing, with Hutton and Trymakin together on the bottom set.

On the season, the Canucks are 7-2-2 with both Edler and Tanev in the lineup. Win tonight against the NHL’s worst team and Vancouver (17-18-3) will move to within a single point of a wild-card spot.

Now, all that being said, it remains unlikely that the Canucks will make the playoffs. They may have three winnable games this week, but the schedule gets a lot tougher later this month and into February.

But there’s at least a glimmer of hope.

“We need to put together a string,” Daniel Sedin said recently. “If we win a few games, we’re back in it. If we lose a few, we’re out of it. Now is the time.”