CALGARY – After finishing the best regular season in franchise history, all the Vancouver Canucks can do now is wait to see who they’ll face when the playoffs get underway next week.
Christian Ehrhoff scored at 2:41 of overtime Saturday as the Canucks defeated the Calgary Flames 3-2. Vancouver won’t know it’s first-round opponent until the regular schedule concludes Sunday.
“We’ll see (Sunday) and then we’ll get ready,” said Daniel Sedin. “We were talking a lot in the group. No one has really mentioned a favourite matchup or anything like that. We’ll take anything.”
Depending on Sunday’s games, the Canucks could face either Chicago, Dallas or Los Angeles in the opening round.
“We’re excited about next week,” said goalie Roberto Luongo, who watched Saturday’s game from the bench as Cory Schneider made 34 saves to record his 16th win of the season. “We definitely want to find out who we play as soon as possible. I think in this locker-room, we’re just pretty excited to get things going.”
Having already clinched the Presidents’ Trophy as the top regular season team in the league, the Canucks (54-19-9) had little to play for against the Flames aside from avoiding injuries and wrapping up a pair of other post-season awards.
“It’s like the last couple of exhibition games, where the kids are trying to make an impression, but the older, more experienced guys are just trying to get through and make sure that they’re healthy,” said Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault.
With his two assists Saturday, Daniel Sedin finished the regular season with 41 goals and 63 assists to win the Art Ross Trophy with a league-leading total of 104 points. Henrik Sedin won the award last season.
“It feels good,” he said. “Like I said before, our focus has always been about the playoffs. Seeing what Hank did last year, I think we realized that if we played the same way this year and we were consistent enough, we would have a chance again this year. It’s all about helping the team.”
Meanwhile, the goaltending tandem of Luongo and Schneider will share the Williams Jennings Trophy for teaming up to allow the fewest goals against in the regular season.
At the urging of Luongo, Schneider started against Calgary to make sure he played in his 25th game of the season—the minimum number required to also get his named etched on the trophy.
“I found out the dynamics of that Jennings just a little while ago and obviously it was a big thing for Roberto for us to give Schneids his 25 starts,” Vigneault said. “He came to see us. He wanted that because Schneids has been a big part of this team. He’s got 16 wins this year and that’s a great accomplishment for a young man coming into this league.”
Not only did Schneider get the start, he held the Canucks in the game long enough for them to rally with two goals in the third before winning it in overtime.
“In the second period we left him alone and he made some unreal saves and we were able to battle back there in the third and give him another win,” Vigneault said.
Schneider was pleased the organization gave him a chance to share the Jennings trophy with Luongo.
“It’s a good feeling and I’m glad they think I earned my spot on the trophy,” Schneider said. “Lou and I have been really diligent this year working with (goalie coach) Rollie (Melanson) and making that one of our goals. We’ve really been pushing each other all year to be the best defensive team in the league.”