Originally written January 29, 2013 on NorthWest Sports Beat:
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For the week of January 20-27 The Vancouver Canucks‘ first week (and a bit) of the new shortened NHL season is in the books. Entering Monday the C’s owned a record of 2-2-1 and sit near the middle of the pack in the Western Conference. The reduced number of games in this lockout-altered season means that each game matters that much more than in typical years. If you’re a Canucks fan you already treat each game like it’s the playoffs, so this year is really going to be something. The games will fly by in 2013 and before we know it we will be weeks away from the playoffs. Let’s hope the ‘Nucks are exactly where they should be at that time… in first place. Here’s a breakdown of the top three performers for the Blue and White in the past week. Third Star: Cory Schneider The goalie debate is less about who is the real number one, and more about when is Roberto Luongo finally going to get traded. Until then, the two net minders will be splitting duties for the Canucks, with the majority of the work going to Cory Schneider. In the past week the American posted a shootout victory against the Flames, a 30 save shutout in Anaheim, and a disappointing 4-1 loss at the hands of the Sharks. Zack Kassian is contributing offensively in a way we sure did not see coming. Luongo has also been in decent form so far in the young season. Maybe the fans will ease off of Roberto and let these two teammates focus on the pucks coming at them instead of the media coming after them. Second Star: Mason Raymond The speedy Alberta native is always a threat on the Canucks’ third line. He is very quick and when he manages to keep control of the puck at the high speeds he reaches, he’s always a contender for a breakaway goal. This past week he managed three goals and maintained a positive plus/minus. It’s always a bonus when your deeper lines can contribute offensively, and so far this season things are looking up. First Star: Zack Kassian I am the first to admit that last season I didn’t buy into the Zack Kassian hype one bit. I was skeptical of what he would actually bring to the table. But boy was I wrong, and I’m very happy to be wrong on this one. Zack is absolutely on fire so far this season. He’s contributing offensively in a way I sure did not see coming. We all knew he was brought in for muscle, and that’s surely something Vancouver lacked for years, but if he can become an enforcer who scores consistently then we’ve got ourselves a real gem here. Kassian registered three goals during last week to go along with a handful of great hits and a few fights. There looks to be nothing but upside for this young man, and I hope he brings a new attitude to the Canucks’ on and off ice persona. It was a very up and down week in the wins and losses columns for the Canucks. Look for them to make adjustments going forward and try to get their sticks hot against some tough goalies coming up. Go Nucks! CLICK HERE TO CHECK OUT THE CANUCKS CLUBHOUSE TODAY AT NWSPORTSBEAT!
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