How hot are the Vancouver Canucks right now? How about even hotter than Alexander Ovechkin's stick?. The Nucks, who a mere month ago were outside the playoff race looking in after losing a club record 9 straight games at home, have now reeled off a club record 11 straight home wins after shutting out the St. Louis Blues 3-0 at GM Place last night.
The Canucks started the game out flat, only mustering 4 shots in the first period. However, goalie Roberto Luongo kept his club in the game, stopping everything the Blues threw at him, and allowed his teammates to finally find their game. It was Bobby Lu's first shutout since returning from injury, and the donut was an "in your face" statement squarely targeted at the Vancouver media, from whom Luongo had faced recent criticism for, in their opinion, giving up at least one soft goal a game. Coach Alain Vigneault joked with the media after the game, suggesting that they should get first star honors for pissing Luongo off.
An extra motivated Luongo is a scary prospect for other teams in the Western Conference. This guy is already one of the fiercest competitors in the sport without pouring more gasoline on the fire. And his fellow Canuck teammates look just as motivated as he does. Guys like Kesler and Burrows have been playing well above their pay grade for several weeks now, and the supposed stars like the Sedins, Sundin, and Demitra are all starting to shift into high gear.
Forget Detroit or San Jose, If I were an NHL coach in the Western Conference right now, I would be plenty worried about the prospect of meeting this team in the playoffs. The Canucks are really firing on all cylinders and look ready to make a deep playoff run. If Luongo gets hot at the right time it is hard to imagine anyone stopping the Canucks this post-season. Maybe Francesco Aqualini should open up his wallet and pay the Vancouver media to make more disparaging remarks about his number one goaltender. Okay, maybe not. The other teams in the west need to have some chance, don't they?