After defeating the Calgary Flames 4-1 last night (for the third time already this season, no less), the Canucks now have an incredible 8-0-1 record in games against Northwest division rivals.

Say what you will about this team’s limitations and corresponding early season struggles; a record like this will stand you in good stead for the playoff chase, especially in a league where 32 of 82 games are played within your own division.

What has impressed me the most about this statistic, though, is the fact that in these games the Canucks are playing with the kind of intensity, commitment (to both each other and to the team philosophy), and focus that is the sine qua non of playoff hockey.

Intra-divisional games, if nothing else, are a cauldron of rivalry, intensity, and immense pressure, at least relative to most other games on the 82-game schedule; games that most resemble the kind of hockey that is played during the playoffs.

Ultimately, these are games where all teams involved are acutely aware that any points dropped to the opposition are perilously afforded, making them that much more difficult to win.

Now, to be sure, I am not saying that nine games against the Northwest division played up to November 19 are an accurate indicator of potnetial playoff success come spring. Rather, what I mean to suggest is that these performances demonstrate that the Canucks are proving themselves capable of consistently playing the way they will need to in order to be successful when the playoffs do begin in April, when games are that much more difficult to win.

Scratch below the surface of any of the impressive statistics I could gather and this is the most exciting element of the Canucks’ 8-0-1 Northwest division record.


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