Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 11/4/13
The feast of the East is over for the Vancouver Canucks. Through their first 16 games of the young National Hockey League season, the Canucks have played 11 Eastern Conference teams, winning seven, losing three and dropping another via shootout for a .682 winning percentage. That’s a pretty lofty number but it is nothing compared to what they will face this week in a four-game road trip to Phoenix, San Jose, Los Angeles and Anaheim. The Coyotes, Sharks, Kings and Ducks have a combined 21-3-2 record on home ice — and all three regulation defeats have been suffered by the Kings. Throw them out of the mix and the remaining three are a combined 16-0-2 in their own barns. The Sharks, Ducks and Coyotes are also ahead of the Canucks in the Pacific Division standings and all have played fewer games. It’s a week that could define whether the Canucks belong with the big boys of the Pacific, or find themselves scuffling along as a middle-of-the-pack Western Conference team. At the very least, the Canucks should head into Phoenix for Tuesday’s trip opener with some degree of confidence. They were dominant Saturday in a 4-0 beat down of the Toronto Maple Leafs, who had entered the night leading the Eastern Conference. The Canucks outshot the Buds 47-21 and scored in every period. “We’re playing four really good teams in their buildings on this trip and I think we’ll be up for the challenge,” said Canuck winger Chris Higgins, one of the goal scorers on Saturday. “These are divisional games and everybody knows how important they are. The main thing for us was to get a win over the Leafs and go into the trip with some confidence.” The Canuck seemed powered by Russian Rocket fuel Saturday after the Pavel Bure jersey retirement ceremony. They had the first 11 shots of the game and were leading 1-0 on a Daniel Sedin power-play goal before the Leafs even tested Roberto Luongo. They will need more of that Tuesday against the Coyotes, who are no longer the low-scoring Coyotes. Phoenix has netted 51 goals in 15 games and, prior to Sunday’s action, stood tied with Anaheim as the fourth-highest scoring team in the league based on average (3.27). The Canucks stood 14th at 2.81.
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