Northwest: Canucks goaltending duo share honors

By Blake Benzel

Photo: The Vancouver Canucks‘ goaltending duo of Cory Schneider (#35) and Roberto Luongo (#1) had a strong week as the Canucks gear up for the 2012 NHL Playoffs (courtesy of

Kathleen Hinkel/Icon SMI)

The playoff race in the Northwest Division has become distinctly one-sided, what with the Vancouver Canucks running away with it and the Flames and Avalanche faltering down the stretch. But the idea of teams playing spoiler has been enough to have the division put out some pretty solid performances lately. Sure, this week’s first star was out of Vancouver, but the other two were pretty impressive too.

This, then, is the three stars of the week in the Northwest Division for March 23-29.

First Star: Vancouver Goaltenders –
It might go against the grain, but it’s pretty hard to separate the performances of Roberto Luongo and Cory Schneider this last week. Luongo went 2-0-0 this last week, with a shutout, while Schneider was 1-0-0 with a shutout. Combined, the two Vancouver goalies went 3-0-0 with a 0.66 goals-against average and a .983 save percentage, winning three big games and nearly single handedly quashing the Colorado Avalanche’s playoff chances in the process. All in all, not a bad week for the division leaders.

Second Star: Ryan Jones, LW, Edmonton Oilers
Like the Oilers, Jones had an up-and-down week. He started the week with a solid weekend, tallying two goals and two assists in Edmonton’s two wins, before succumbing to a less than spectacular game against the Stars. Jones ended up with two goals and two assists, five shots and a plus-one over the three game span, which is no small feat when you consider the other young superstars that the Oilers have on their squad.

Third Star: Mike Cammalleri, C, Calgary Flames
This was a difficult call to make, given the fact that the Flames had a pretty dismal week, losing two of three games and effectively ruining their playoff hopes. But Cammalleri was the Flames’ lone bright spot. In their three games, he tallied two goals and two assists, and was the team’s most consistent offensive threat, firing off eight shots in the process. Despite his lowly minus-two rating, Cammalleri had a special week during a week that was much less than special for the Flames.

Northwest Division Notes

The Calgary Flames reassigned forward Roman Horak to the Abbotsford Heat on Thursday. Horak, 22, had three goals and 11 points in 61 games this season for the Flames. … With their loss on Wednesday, the Flames now have just a 4.6 percent chance of making the playoffs. The Flames’ “tragic number” is currently sitting at five points, according to the NHL website. … The Colorado Avalanche aren’t out of it yet, but they’re getting dangerously close. As of Thursday, the Avalanche’s chances of making the playoffs were sitting at 3.2 percent and their “tragic number” at four points. … Wild prospect Jason Zucker made his NHL debut on Thursday, playing 10:55, registering three shots and two hits in Minnesota’s 3-2 overtime win against the Florida Panthers.