Blue Jackets-Canucks Preview

The Vancouver Canucks appear to have put their early season

struggles behind them, and they’re once again starting to resemble

a Stanley Cup-caliber team.

They’ve looked like a Cup contender against the Columbus Blue

Jackets for the last few seasons.

The Canucks, who might again go with backup Cory Schneider in

goal, try to win a fifth straight game and beat the Blue Jackets

for the ninth time in a row Tuesday night.

After losing in last season’s Cup finals, Vancouver (13-9-1) got

off to a sluggish start to 2011-12, going 6-7-1. The Canucks have

surged since, however, and are set to open a four-game homestand

riding a four-game winning streak.

“We were kind of waiting for this to happen,” forward Daniel

Sedin said after a 3-2 victory over San Jose on Saturday. “We have

a good team. We know if we play the right way, how good we can be.

It was a matter of time until we turned the corner and we have


Strong play in net has been key to the turnaround, but it hasn’t

come from Roberto Luongo.

Schneider has started five straight games since Luongo sustained

an upper-body injury. Luongo has been healthy enough to start the

last three, but Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault has stayed with his

hot goaltender.

Schneider stopped a season-high 43 shots Saturday and has a 0.74

goals-against average with two shutouts during the winning streak.

He made his first start of the season in Columbus on Oct. 10,

making 23 saves in a 3-2 victory, and has posted a 2.00 GAA in

winning his three starts in the series.

Luongo, 7-5-1 with a 2.97 GAA on the season, has a 1.91 GAA in

winning his last three starts over Columbus.

The Blue Jackets’ eight-game skid in the series is their longest

current losing streak against any opponent. The Canucks also own an

eight-game win streak over Toronto to tie for their longest current

run against a team.

Vancouver’s Alexandre Burrows and Ryan Kesler have been playing

well lately, and both have played a part in their team’s dominance

over Columbus.

Burrows has scored two of his seven goals in the last three

games, and has six goals and four assists during the winning

streak. Kesler has recorded two of his four goals over the last

three contests, and he has four goals and seven assists in the last

seven versus the Blue Jackets.

Columbus (6-14-3) arrives in Vancouver to open a four-game road

trip after losing 2-1 to St. Louis on Sunday, snapping a 3-0-2


“When you lose one and you’ve got to start over and start a new

streak,” coach Scott Arniel said. “You can’t let it linger.”

Arniel received another strong performance from Curtis Sanford,

who made 27 saves. Sanford has gone 3-1-2 with a 1.45 GAA in

starting the last six games, yielding two or fewer goals five


No. 1 goalie Steve Mason was back on the bench serving as

Sanford’s backup Sunday after missing the last three games with a

concussion. Mason, 3-12-1 with a 3.63 GAA, might not start Tuesday

considering he has been in net for six games of the losing streak

versus the Canucks, posting a 3.73 GAA.

Sanford is 5-0-2 with a 1.56 GAA and a shutout in the series,

though he hasn’t faced the Canucks since March 2007. He played for

Vancouver in 2007-08 and ’08-’09.

Rick Nash, Columbus’ leader with seven goals, has scored once in

his last nine games against Vancouver.