The Vancouver Canucks are undefeated in six NHL preseason games after a 4-3 shootout victory over the San Jose Sharks on Wednesday.
But better yet, the Canucks are receiving nightly contributions from young players, good omens that the team's organizational depth is improving, and that injuries can be overcome once the games start counting next month.
Against San Jose, the catalyst was third-year veteran Mason Raymond, who scored Vancouver's first goal and the shootout winner with his version of the Savardian spin-o-rama.
The 24-year-old Raymond, who has tantalizing speed, has impressed Canucks management this month by taking more shots, carrying the puck into the centre of the ice more often, and becoming craftier and more thoughtful about how to score goals. If those trends continue, than the Canucks can expect more than one goal every six games, which is the Calgary native's approximate average after 120 NHL games.
"He's trying to go to the tough areas more, and he's trying to bring the puck and shoot the puck more," head coach Alain Vigneault said. "He's got a very good skill set; if he could put it all together - and I know he's trying real hard - than we definitely have a real good NHL player."
Alexander Edler and Tanner Glass also scored for Vancouver, with Edler adding a shootout tally on a slow drag-and-dangle move that beat Sharks goaltender Evgeni Nabaokov. The Canucks erased a two-goal deficit before allowing a tying marker with 69 seconds remaining in the third period.
Ben Ferriero scored his third goal of the preseason for San Jose, with defencemen Rob Blake and Kent Huskins adding the other tallies.
Roberto Luongo made 24 saves for the Canucks, and stopped Ferriero on the third and final shootout attempt to clinch the victory.
Vancouver plays Anaheim on Thursday at GM Place before ending the exhibition schedule with road games against both Alberta teams.
"We've got some pretty good momentum going," Luongo said. "It will definitely add some confidence once the season starts."
The team's 6-0 record is a function of the intense competition for jobs at training camp, Raymond said. Vigneault also singled out Glass, Jannik Hansen and Mario Bliznak among the positive contributors on Wednesday.
"I'm controlling every day the best I can control it," Raymond said. "The biggest thing is, you feel a little older and you feel a little wiser. I'm still a pretty young guy in this league, and you learn so much every year that you think you've got it all. But there's still so much to learn."