Canucks face another tough assignment
The Vancouver Canucks and New Jersey Devils are two of the hottest teams in the NHL. It's the Canucks, however, who are looking to surge into the lead in the race for the Presidents' Trophy.
Fresh off spoiling the Detroit's home winning streak, a modern NHL record, the red-hot Canucks look to cool the surging Devils when the clubs meet for the only time this season Friday night at Prudential Center.
Vancouver (39-16-6) has used an 11-1-2 stretch to open a comfortable lead as it chases a fourth straight Northwest Division title.
The Canucks have also pulled within one point of league-leading Detroit in the hunt for back-to-back Presidents' Trophies.
New Jersey (35-20-4), meanwhile, has gone 9-1-1 in its last 11 games to climb into fourth place in the Eastern Conference and is coming off its fourth straight win, 4-3 in overtime at Toronto on Tuesday.
While the Devils are seven points back of the Atlantic Division-leading New York Rangers, the Canucks moved closer to the Red Wings following Thursday's dramatic 4-3 shootout victory.
Daniel Sedin scored his second goal of the game with 15.4 seconds left to force overtime before Alexandre Burrows netted the only tally in the shootout, ending Detroit's 23-game home winning streak.
"For us to come in here and play well and show that we can beat them means a lot,'" Burrows said. "But there's a lot of work ahead and if we face them in the playoffs, it will start 0-0."
Daniel and Henrik Sedin continue to be among the key driving forces behind the Canucks. Daniel Sedin has four goals and four assists in four games, while Henrik also has eight points in that stretch after assisting on both of his brother's goals Thursday.
Despite his team's recent success, coach Peter DeBoer is aware of the challenge the Canucks pose.
"We haven't seen a team like Vancouver in a long time," DeBoer told the team's official website. "This team is four lines deep, six defencemen deep, some of the best goaltending in the league. They can make you pay in a lot of different ways. It's going to be real interesting in how we handle that."
New Jersey is boasting some impressive offensive depth of its own, scoring 39 goals in the last 11 games — 14 during its four-game winning streak.
Ilya Kovalchuk has six goals and 13 assists in the past 11 contests, while the much more unheralded David Clarkson has seven and four in the same span.
The Devils are expected to have rookie Adam Larsson back in the lineup after he missed nine games with a lower back injury. His 16 points lead New Jersey defencemen.
"It didn't heal the way I thought it would, so it was pretty frustrating," Larsson said. "It took a long time. Now, the last week has been better every day, so I'm glad."
Vancouver plays the fifth of a six-game road trip Sunday against Dallas.