CALGARY, AB -- Thanks in part to a three-game winning streak, the Vancouver Canucks have returned to the top of the Northwest Division, edging out the Minnesota Wild in the race to be the third seed in this year's Stanley Cup chase.
The Canucks, who are 8-2-0 in their past 10 games, currently lay claim to four consecutive division titles. With just nine games remaining in the season for Vancouver, the BC-based team could be poised to extend that to five.
Flames Season Series Record: 1-2-1
Calgary's performances against the Canucks have been up and down, to say the least.
Opening the season series on January 23rd - the Flames' third game of the season - Calgary dropped a 3-2 shootout loss after Zack Kassian's winner went unanswered in Vancouver. The Canucks added another two points on February 9th after dropping the Flames 5-1 on the strength of Jordan Schroeder's first two National Hockey League goals.
Calgary exacted a small measure of revenge on March 3rd as Mike Cammalleri scored twice en route to a 4-2 win in Calgary before the Canucks nabbed another pair of points last Saturday with a 5-2 victory.
After dropping back-to-back starts in Vancouver's last game in March and first in April, Schneider has been lights out in the Canucks' crease. The 27-year-old has two shutouts in his last three starts, blanking both the Phoenix Coyotes and Edmonton Oilers. Schneider's other start saw him boot out 36 saves at the expense of the Flames on Saturday. Schneider's stretch has helped his 2.06 goals against average and .928 save percentage this season.
Though he snapped his pointless drought at the expense of the Coyotes with an assist on Ryan Kesler's first period goal, Raymond has just that helper to show for in his past five games. Still, the 27-year-old is one point away from tying his 55-game output from a season ago of 10 goals and 20 points and had a four-game scoring streak snapped by his most recent drought.
THREE PLAYERS TO WATCH
Missing the previous 19 games with a broken ankle, Kesler returned to the Canucks lineup in fashion against Phoenix, scoring the game-winner 7:26 into the contest. The Livonia, MI product has played just eight games this season, with a shoulder injury forcing him to miss the first 12 games of the season. When in the lineup, Kesler has been effective with two goals and six points.
With the return of Kesler and the addition of Roy, the Canucks now boast all sorts of depth down the middle when factoring in top-line center Henrik Sedin. Roy's been strong in his brief Vancouver tenure, though the stats don't necessarily reflect it. The five-foot-nine forward has one assist in three games for the Canucks after posting 22 points in 30 games for the Dallas Stars.
Perhaps a surprise to be leading the Canucks blueline in points, Hamhuis has 15 assists and 19 points in 39 games this season. Two of his four goals have come in back-to-back games against the Flames and Coyotes. The 30-year-old Smithers, BC product currently holds a one point edge over Alexander Edler for the team lead amongst defensemen.
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