Canucks at an advantage

GUTS McTAVISH, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:59 AM ET

Judging by the remaining schedules for both the Canucks and Flames it's easy to give the advantage to Vancouver.

Heading into yesterday's action, eight points separated the two teams, which is incredible considering the Canucks' high winning percentage the past month.

I guess that's what happens when the Flames go nine without a loss.

Calgary has kicked off its most grueling road trip of the season, one that will see them play seven games on the East Coast in 11 nights. Add to this the fact the Flames are starting to get banged up for the first time this season. The loss of Rene Bourque and his 40 points for a lengthy period of time would be similar to the Canucks losing Ryan Kesler. It stings to lose a top-six forward.

There is a window here for the Canucks to creep up on the Flames as they have seemed to cool off (division wise) since early in the new year. It doesn't matter who you are; you need incentives to get you through this time of the season. No coach wants to see his team coast down the stretch nursing a big lead.

Once again, kudos to Calgary coach Mike Keenan for getting so much out of them with a 12-point lead. To continue that pace with a big lead would be a small miracle and more than likely mean a Vezina on Flames goalie Miikka Kiprusoff's mantle.

Whether the Canucks can catch the Flames isn't nearly as important as thinking they can, and setting their sights on that goal.

The worst that can happen is the Canucks will have put the teams chasing them further and further out of reach and enter the post season already playing playoff hockey.

I'll take that over home ice advantage any day.


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