This is it boys and girls, the last 7 games of an 82 game schedule. "The playoff stretch", "now or never", "give it your all".
Thankfully, the Nuckies have been handed a very well balanced last splash of games. Well balanced? Read on fellow blog readers.
If a team who's heading into the playoffs has a lineup of playoff-less teams in the last stretch of games, it can do some major damage to a teams mentality. Let's use Edmonton for an example. The Oilers are way out of the playoff race, dead last in the league. The Canucks won the season series 4-2, outscoring them 19-11. Not to mention all the injuries they've been dealt with. Having a game against the Oilers in the last 7 games wouldn't be positive. The Canucks need playoff-like competition to give them a smooth, healthy transition from season to playoffs.
Given the present league standings, the Canucks have a very healthy point gap, with Colorado behind by 5 points with 7 games left. Vancouver should welcome the challenge against the upcoming games against strong playoff teams, and use it to their advantage.
-Phoenix is up next, a surprising young team who plopped themselves in 3rd place in the league, and have already nabbed a playoff spot. A measuring stick game for sure.
-The Kings, a potential 1st round match-up for the Canucks. The Kings have certainly grabbed a playoff spot, even though they haven't yet, mathematically. Although the Canucks have won the season series (currently 3-0. 4-0 or 3-1 depending on the outcome of the last game), the game is being played at the staples center, where the Kings are 21-13-3. A great road trip/measuring stick/playoff atmosphere game for both clubs. Especially because, as stated above, they're potential 1st round match-ups.
-The Sharks are the 2nd to last game the Canucks play, which will be a beauty. With the sharks getting the decision last Saturday, this will be the official measuring stick game for the orcas to see if they can truly handle Thornton, Heatley and Marleau who dominated them, as well as Boyle and Blake.
A win against a team like the Sharks is a way more valuable victory than a win against a team like Edmonton or Minny at this point of the season. Not only would the Canucks get the 2 points, the mental effect it would have on the club would be tremendous.
A fun filled last 7 games are in store for this team, a lot of measuring stick games to play. There's nothing sweeter than beating playoff bound teams right before they start. Confidence would be 120%, moral up and knowing you can beat them at this stage of the season is a precious thing to have in the back of your mind.
Yikes, let's hope it all goes well