Originally written on NorthWest Sports Beat  |  Last updated 3/31/12
Friday Night Full of Stars

The Vancouver Canucks recent schedule has allowed them to play kingmaker in the race for the final playoff spots in the Western Conference.

A run of games against Dallas, Colorado, and Los Angeles has helped the Canucks not only effectively eliminate the Avalanche from the race but also helped give the team a week long litmus test to see how they measure up against a group of possible first-round opponents.

Thankfully, they’ve passed with flying colours. In fact, since the Daniel Sedin injury the Vancouver Canucks have awoken from their winter slumber and are playing their best stretch of hockey since the infamous Boston game.

With that, we stare on the precipice of redemption. Four games remain in the season, all against non-playoff teams, and then the moment this city has been waiting for since June 15 is finally here.

Also finally here? My Love Em/Hate Em for the Stars vs. Canucks last night.

Love ‘Em

1. Just Higgins being Higgins

Chris Higgins must be excited about the playoffs as well since the winger is doing his best Mikeal Samuelsson in the 2010 playoffs impression over the past week.

The ab-master now has four goals in his last four and more importantly he’s doing this with the Canucks best goal-scoring winger down.

And yet am I the only one shocked he hasn’t gotten a chance with Henrik Sedin yet? Seems to me the hard-working Higgins would be a great presence on the top line.

Not that Sedin with Alex Burrows and Maxim Lapierre wasn’t fun to watch..

2. Schnuuuuuuuuuuu

After Roberto Luongo‘s neck decided to cramp his style, Cory Schneider got the nod between the pipes just minutes before puck drop. Thankfully, Schneider is a cucumber, as in cool as, and delivered yet another fine performance that will have the usual goaltending debates stoked full-fire this weekend.

This shorthanded save off Loui Eriksson was easily his best of the night and made me give out this involuntary squeak of joy when it happened.

I can only imagine what sound Steve Yzerman made.

3. ALBERTS ALBERTS

It was a tough call for the third spot with guys like Maxim Lapierre, Sami Salo, and Alex Burrows making strong cases, but when Andrew Alberts scores you have to recognize because his chance to hold down this spot may never come again.

Alberts goal was his first since November 26th, which is surprising because that’s actually this season.

Really the puck was going way wide and thankfully hit Stephane Robidas to correct its course but Alberts can’t be choosers.

Now watch him score tonight and become the new Aaron Rome.

Hate ‘Em

1. C’mon Penalty Shot

Dale Weise wasn’t happy when his trip-up on a breakaway didn’t lead to a penalty shot and really neither was I.

When We Win You Win! Stars vs. Canucks blog: love ’em & hate ‘em

For one, I subscribe to the school of thought that you should call penalty shots as often as you can because they’re awesome and for the second I had the seen the Canucks powerplay that night. A Dale Weise penalty shot would’ve given them much greater odds to score.

Me taking that penalty shot would have given them greater odds as well. I’ve been working on my triple deke.

2. Dowell Downer

It didn’t matter in the grand scheme of things, but Andrew Alberts and Sami Salo made sure they both gave and tooketh away in this game by making a bone-headed defensive play late in the game to let Jake Dowell get a second goal for Dallas.

Frustrating but, you know whatever.

3. Some Like It Ott

Finally, if the tables break right and Vancouver and Dallas meet in the first-round how soon will Steve Ott become the most hated man in Vancouver?

The Ottster was on the radar all night long thanks to a couple chirping sessions with Alex Burrows, and some admittedly nice play.

Just ask Burrows, the only thing people hate more than a pest is a pest who can play.

CLICK HERE CHECK OUT THE VANCOUVER CANUCKS CLUBHOUSE TODAY ON NWSB!

© Richard Hodges for North West Sports Beat, 2012. | Permalink | No comment |

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Post tags: Aaron Rome, Alex Burrows, Andrew Alberts, Chris Higgins, Cory Schneider, Dale Weise, Dallas Stars, dallas stars vs. vancouver canucks, dallas vs. vancouver, Daniel Sedin, game rewind, Henrik Sedin, Jake Dowell, Love Em Hate Em, Maxim Lapierre, penalty shots, Sami Salo, Stars vs. Canucks, Stephane Robidas, Steve Ott, Vancouver Canucks, Western Conference Playoff Race

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