January 05 2011 04:37PM
As of right now, the Vancouver Canucks are literally the best team in hockey. As of two nights ago, the Calgary Flames lost the second-worst team in hockey. This is a recipe for disaster.
The Canucks haven't lost in regulation in exactly a month, when they dropped a 3-2 decision to St. Louis. Before that, they had won four straight. Since then, they've won 11 of 13 and taken 24 of 26 possible points. So you might say that they're as for-real as teams get.
Now, there's something to be said (at least by the people who believe these things) about peaking too early, and that late-season games coming after Valentine's Day or so are the true test of a team's character. But that is, of course, ridiculous. Any time a team can cobble together a stretch of 15-1-2 over the course of about a month and a half, they are a force to be reckoned with. No one just backs into that, unless they're the Senators last year, I guess, but at least Vancouver plays in the West, right?
Plus they say you gotta beat the teams put in front of you. Doesn't matter if they're first or 30th, you gotta win. Well, Vancouver obviously has, but they're not exactly pounding on the minnows. In this 18-game superstretch, they've beaten current playoff teams 12 times(!), so there schedule hasn't exactly been easy. In fact, there are seven teams in the league with 50 or more points, and Vancouver's one of 'em, but during this run, they've played them all except Pittsburgh and Washington and taken six of eight points.
They've netted 72 goals in this run (an even four per) and allowed just 39 (2.17 per). That'll win you a hell of a lot of hockey games, and they've got everyone chipping in. There are seven Canucks with 20 points or more, but during this run, no one has been superhuman, like, say, Crosby was when the Pens won 100 in a row a few weeks back. Henrik and Daniel Sedin have 26 and 25 points, respectively, which isn't a ton all things considered. In the latter's case, it's only slightly above his season output, and in the former's it's actually below.
They actually remind me a lot of the Flames from their Cup run. Great goaltending, a couple of really good players at the top of their game, and a whole bunch of brainless thugs who make them impossible to play against.
This one could get ugly.