The Vancouver Canucks are no stranger to having a depleted line-up. They currently have six injured players (David Booth, Zack Kassian, Ryan Kesler, Dale Weise, Steve Pinizzotto and Manny Malhotra), some of whom will not return to the ice this season. They were also missing Chris Higgins for one game after his back seized up in practice and played without Alex Edler while he served a two game suspension for charging Phoenix goaltender Mike Smith. But despite their woes, the Canucks are on a four game winning streak, their longest since a six game winning streak that ended mid-February.
“We’re a little shorthanded right now, but we’ve been finding alternative ways to win games,” goalie Cory Schneider told canucks.com.
Schneider played in net for all four wins, three of which were played within four nights on the road in Phoenix, Los Angeles and Colorado. As well as being the second longest win streak for the Canucks, these four games mark the longest win streak for Schneider this season. The last three games he played before slotting into the line up against St. Louis on March 19th resulted in a loss and two overtime losses, in which he let in some soft goals that cost the Canucks, causing worry among Canucks faithful – did they just have another Roberto Luongo situation on their hands? However, Schneider has erased those fears (at least for the time being) with these four wins, one of which was a shutout against the reigning Stanley Cup champions, the LA Kings.
“He’s playing well,” Mason Raymond told canucks.com of Schneider. “It’s phenomenal to see him playing the way he is and seeing the puck the way he is, so it’s huge for our club.” It’s likely Schneider would say the exact same thing about Raymond.
Raymond is one of two players with points in each of the four wins (two assists and two goals), amounting to nine goals and 18 points in 32 games after 10 goals and 20 points in 55 games last season. Add on the fact that he is still leading the team in power play goals and in the past four games, his shots on goal have increased (from one in the first of four wins to six in the latest) and Raymond is easily one of the Canucks’ most valuable players. He scored the only goal in a 1-0 win against LA on Saturday and the next night, gave the Canucks a 2-1 lead after the Colorado Avalanche tied the game in the first period.
His line mate, Jordan Schroeder, is the other player with points in each of the last four wins. In his first season playing with the Canucks after a few years with their AHL farm team, Schroeder had been sent back down to the Chicago Wolves on March 11.
“We believe that Jordan has a tremendous amount of upside and, at some point here, he’s going to be able to contribute and help us out,” head coach Alain Vigneault told the Vancouver Sun after their decision was announced.
In his short return to the Wolves, Schroeder played three games, in which he had one goal and three assists. He was recalled to the Canucks on March 18th and has since been an imminent force on a line with Raymond and Jannik Hansen, who has 12 points in 13 games. In his last four games with the Canucks he also has one goal and three assists. His goal was the game winner against the Phoenix Coyotes and his assists gave him credit for clean, underrated passes that set up Dale Weise and Mason Raymond. In his first season in the NHL, Schroeder is showing promise and playing a large role in the Canucks’ success – perhaps proof that the Canucks should be focusing more on prospects and younger players who can make a difference on the team in the future.
The Canucks’ second line of Raymond, Schroeder and Hansen has been their best line during the four game win streak. It is the only one that has remained in tact – even the top line was broken up when Chris Higgins slotted in with the Sedins and Alex Burrows played on a line with Andrew Ebbett and Keith Ballard last game against Colorado. They have their work cut out for them as they try to extend that win streak and gain more points tonight against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
“We take pride in being in first, but at the same time we’ve got to kind of put our heads down and plow ahead and pile up the points, get as many as we can get and not look around to see who’s doing what or where we are in the standings,” Schneider told canucks.com. “If we do our jobs and win our games, it forces other teams to do the same. It’s nice, but things can change in a day or two.”