Updated Jan. 3
They were the fashionable pick to win it all for the first time, especially in Vancouver where the faithful tend to have that kind of expectation before every season begins. But after an uneven start to the campaign, the Canucks are starting to make more believers.
|Roberto Luongo has stayed strong in goal with younger backup Cory Schneider giving him a push. (Getty Images)|
The Canucks also have the best record at home and nearly as good a mark on the road, and reigning MVP Henrik Sedin is having another brilliant season with a league-leading 40 assists, while his twin brother Daniel has chipped in 20 goals, tying him for fourth in the NHL.
Put it all together, along with a propensity to hold leads -- Vancouver is 20-1-2 when scoring first and 18-0-2 when leading after 40 minutes -- and the result is Vancouver takes over the top spot in our Power Rankings for the first time this season. And by no small coincidence, the Canucks take over top spot in the NHL overall standings to begin the first full week of the new year.
"We're finally understanding how to play to be successful on a regular basis," forward Daniel Sedin said. Credit that to contributions coming from throughout the lineup. While the twins remain catalysts, this season has seen a breakthrough as well for Ryan Kesler, who plays more minutes than any Vancouver forward and has put together 17 points in his past 12 games.
Offseason acquisitions Dan Hamhuis and Keith Ballard have strengthened what was an already deep blue line, Manny Malhotra has been a fine addition as a third-line center, and the goaltending with youngster Cory Schneider pushing veteran Roberto Luongo has been outstanding for the most part.
"Winning feeds winning," Daniel Sedin said. "Everybody is coming to the rink with a lot of energy. It's upbeat."
It should be. The rankings through Sunday night's games: