Feasting on local foes

BOB MACKIN -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 1:03 PM ET

They foiled the Oil and doused the Flames. The Vancouver Canucks even turned the Avs into the 'ave nots.

If they can sustain their dominance over the three Northwest division rivals, it could be the difference between a playoff spot and a tee time come mid-April.

Six of Vancouver's eight wins have been against those three teams.

The Canucks netted a respectable 10 points in Western conference standings after allowing only two to escape when they couldn't solve two games in regulation time.

The Canucks enter tomorrow night's visit by Edmonton riding the wave of a three-game winning streak.

After that atrocious 3-0 home loss to the Nashville Predators to begin the month, the Canucks refueled with a flame-broiled Filet de Keenan wedged between a pair of Avalanche slices to achieve an 8-8 record.

"The last three games we were playing the way we knew we could," said Canucks captain Markus Naslund. "Despite key guys out, we're finding ways to win and we're doing it in good fashion: playing hard nosed and working hard and grinding teams down."

The Canucks earned their first overtime win of the season against Calgary and swept a home-and-home tilt with the Oilers last month.

After tomorrow night's Oilers visit and Sunday's by the Flames, the Canucks see their Alberta foes once each in December and then only the Oilers in February.

A lot can change between now and the stretch run, however. Will Calgary adjust to Keenan's no compromise coaching style or might the underperforming Oilers find their stride?

The wild card, however, is the Wild itself. Eternally pesky Minnesota makes its first appearance at GM Place Friday. The Canucks also face Jacques Lemaire's squad Nov. 21 and Dec. 2 in St. Paul. It'll give the Canucks another means of gauging their progress, especially how they're adapting to the lengthy absence of blueliners Kevin Bieksa (calf) and Sami Salo (nose).

"We like our game, there's a lot of things we can still do better," said Canucks' defenceman Aaron Miller. "We're playing defensively responsible now, but it's turning into two points every night."


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