Canucks facing familiar foes in Atlanta

Dustin Byfuglien was a thorn in the Canucks' side when he was with the Chicago Blackhawks. (REUTERS)

Dustin Byfuglien was a thorn in the Canucks' side when he was with the Chicago Blackhawks. (REUTERS)

HOSEA CHEUNG, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:54 PM ET

The Canucks don't see much of the Atlanta Thrashers in the NHL's unbalanced schedule.

But when the two teams clash in Georgia Friday, there will be at least one Thrasher the Canucks are bound to recognize.

During the last two playoffs, Dustin Byfuglien was public enemy No. 1 in Vancouver, causing havoc for Roberto Luongo in front of the net as a member of the Chicago Blackhawks. He scored six goals and added three assists in helping the 'Hawks eliminate the Canucks in two straight postseasons.

But with Chicago facing salary cap issues after winning the Stanley Cup, Byfuglien was traded to Atlanta – as was Andrew Ladd – in the offseason, a move that benefitted the big blueliner.

The six-foot-four, 257-lbs Minnesota native had a tremendous start to the season, even generating early whispers of Norris Trophy candidate, but has since dried up offensively. He posted 15 goals and 40 points from October to December, before tallying just four goals and 10 points from January to March.

His decline in production has paralleled the Thrashers' drop. The Southeast squad is 6-11-3 in their past 20 games, with only one of those wins coming in regulation. Their playoffs hopes are quickly fading as they trail the eighth-spot Buffalo Sabres by nine point with 10 games to go.

The league-best Canucks and Luongo, who gets the start in net, will look to widen that gap in the only meeting between the two sides this season.

Vancouver, winners of six straight on the road, can also set a new franchise high for points in a single season with a single point. They are currently at 105 points, a mark set in 2006-07, with eight games remaining.

Native son

Another familiar face on the Thrashers is ex-Vancouver Giants star Evander Kane.

The Vancouver native has 18 goals and 40 points in his second season with the Thrashers, after being drafted fourth overall in 2009. He sits fifth in team scoring, but has just one goal in his last 12 games.

Art Ross watch

Daniel Sedin is pulling away from the rest of the pack for the NHL scoring title. The Canucks winger, fresh off a two-goal effort, has 95 points and is seven up on Henrik who sits second overall. Daniel is on a nine game point streak, amassing 16 points during the stretch.


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