How The West Will Be Won
Sharp, Datsyuk, Bouwmeester & the Canucks highlight this week's review
Team of the Week:
Vancouver Canucks (47-16-9)
Winners of seven straight games, the Canucks are finding yet another gear as they power towards the playoffs as the leading point getters in the NHL. The only team over the 100-point plateau in the league, the Canucks had an extremely impressive past week, winning what some are calling the game of the season against the Sharks in San Jose, a tough Saturday night game against the Flames in Calgary, and then a pair of 4-2 wins over the Wild and Avalanche at home. The win against Colorado clinched a playoff spot Vancouver, an incredible feat given that the team has ten games left on the schedule and they play in the ultra-competitive Western Conference where only five points separate fourth-place Los Angeles and tenth-place Nashville. As always, the Canucks received solid contributions from the Sedin brothers, who combined for six goals and nine assists in the four wins, while Alex Burrows and the goaltending of Roberto Luongo and Cory Schneider were also key elements in seeing the team sweep the week.
Line of the Week:
Patrick Sharp (W/C – Chicago Blackhawks) – 4 assists vs. San Jose
In a battle of NHL heavyweights on Monday night, the Chicago Blackhawks' Patrick Sharp gave the Hawks one of his better efforts of the season, leading the team with four assists in a 6-3 win at home. Following a first-period that saw the Sharks take a 2-1 lead into the break, Chicago broke through in the second with five goals. Sharp earned assists on goals by Marian Hossa (two), Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, marking the third straight games with at least a point for the Thunder Bay, ON native. The assist on the Toews goal also established a new career-high in points for Sharp, with his 68 points (34 goals, 34 assists) surpassing the 66 he recorded all of last season.
Play of the Week:
Pavel Datsyuk (C/LW – Detroit Red Wings) – OT winner vs. Edmonton
Pavel Datsyuk is known as a fantastic all-around player, but certainly one who is silky smooth with the puck. He once again showcased his deft-touch and sneaky abilities agains the Oilers last Friday night. With the game in overtime in Detroit, the Red Wings had the pressure on the Oilers with a relentless cycle as the clock ticked under a minute to play. Lurking like a hunting shark, Datsyuk made his way to the top of the zone, just inside the Oilers blueline. From here, he took a drop-pass from teammate Johan Franzen, who proceeded to bull-rush his way to the front of the net. As Datsyuk accepted the pass, he began to glide across the top of the slot, facing the Oilers goal. With one quick look at the net, the Oiler forward committed and dropped down to block what he thought was going to be a shot. With that, Datsyuk calmly and quickly toe-dragged and pulled the puck around the sprawling defender and then, just as quick, let-fire a blink of the eye snapshot, through traffic, that found the far top corner and gave the Red Wings an exciting and hard-fought win.
Milestone of the Week:
Jay Bouwmeester (D – Calgary Flames)
Quietly one of the NHL's most efficient players, Calgary Flames defenceman Jay Bouwmeester can always be counted on to play 25 minutes a game, skate the puck out of danger and chip in offensively. He has also proven himself very durable, as evidenced by him playing in his 496th straight game on Wednesday night against Phoenix, establishing a new NHL-record for consecutive games played by a defenceman. The record, previously held by Bouwmeester's former teammates Karlis Skrastins, took the Edmonton native since the start of the 2003-04 season to achieve. Doug Jarvis holds the all-time record for games played, with 964 straight from 1975 to 1985. Congratulations Jay, from NHLPA.com, on your historic accomplishment!
Quote of the Week:
“You're trying hard not to laugh, aren't you?”
Vancouver goaltender Cory Schneider to a reporter as he was doing an interview with teammate Ryan ‘the interview bomber' Kesler lurking in the background, wearing Roberto Luongo's goalie mask.