That CBC concoction, Hockey Day In Canada, unfolds this weekend, with all six Canadian teams in action during a Saturday triple-header that will also include many feel-good stories from around the hockey world. One of the best right now is being written by Vancouver Canucks forward Henrik Sedin, who has opened up a four-point lead atop the NHL scoring race, thanks to a three-point night during Saturday's 5-1 rout of what many people think is the best team in hockey, the Chicago Blackhawks.
The Canucks' date with the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday also coincides with the start of Vancouver's record 14-game road odyssey. The Canucks are being booted out of their GM Place digs by a scheduling conflict you've probably heard about - the 2010 Winter Olympics.
Presumably, the Sedins' presence in Toronto will permit Maple Leaf loyalists to ponder what might have been had the twins ever made it to unrestricted free agency last summer and signed contracts in the Centre of the Hockey Universe. Last June, Leafs coach Ron Wilson received a wrist slap from NHL hockey operations when he waxed poetic about the Sedins' abilities on local radio and the possibility that they might land in Hogtown - and Wilson clearly knew of what he spoke. Henrik Sedin has a mere 51 points in the 30 games since brother Daniel returned from a broken foot and is on pace to shatter his previous career high of 82, established last season. On a broader scale, the Canucks' Great Olympic Road Trip will give them a chance to prove that they are bona fide Stanley Cup contenders. Right now, they look like the best team in the NHL.
The Buffalo Sabres' oft-injured but suddenly scorching hot Tim Connolly has a loose connection to the Sedin twins. In the extraordinarily mediocre 1999 entry draft, in which 23 of the top 30 players failed to become NHL regulars, Connolly was chosen fifth overall behind the Sedins, who were taken at Nos..2 and 3. Connolly brings a career-best 15-game scoring streak (7-17-24) into Vancouver tonight for a clash between the surprising Sabres - leaders in the Northeast Division - and the Canucks. … With apologies to NBC, the game of the week takes place Thursday between the Blackhawks and the San Jose Sharks, the two top teams in the Western Conference. The season series is knotted at one win apiece; the outcome will help dictate which team gains home-ice advantage throughout the playoffs, - though the Canucks may eventually have something to say about that.
By the Numbers
Of their 195 goals this season, the number that the Washington Capitals have scored in the third period, most in the NHL.
"I hope not well."
Atlanta Thrashers coach John Anderson, when asked how Slava Kozlov took the news that he would be a healthy scratch for Saturday's game against the Tampa Bay Lightning, ending Kozlov's consecutive games-played streaked at 251. Anderson indicated that the decision to sit him out was made to light a spark in Kozlov, who scored 76 points in 82 games for the Thrashers last season, but is on pace for just half that total this year. Kozlov could get back in as early as Tuesday night against the visiting Anaheim Ducks, another team like Atlanta, hovering on the edge of playoff contention.