There was certainly plenty of holiday cheer in Canucks Nation this week with the team sweeping all three games during the week. In the spirit of the holidays and with the official halfway point of the season about to be reached, Number Crunching gets into the giving mood by presenting the unofficial mid-season awards.
Be sure to bookmark this blog (Ctrl + D) to see how many of the predictions pan out at the end of the 2009.10 season. And of course, feel free to share your thoughts on who you would choose as your mid-season bests.
MOST EXCITING PLAYER
<img src=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2009/12/dec2709_flames02_t.jpg class="imageFloatLeftFramed">Mason Raymond: 17 goals and 29 points in 39 games played
Alex Burrows has taken this award home for the past two seasons but the speedy Raymond figures to have the inside track for this year's honour. Not only has the 24-year old shattered his previous career-high with 17 goals so far this season (just one behind Henrik Sedin for the team lead), but the third-year pro has a newfound confidence with the puck and it has clearly shown with his increasing repertoire of moves and his highlight-reel tallies so far this season.
He'll face tough competition from the likes of Ryan Kesler and Roberto Luongo in the second half of the season but assuming he continues to do what he has been so far, he'll have a chance to take home his first ever piece of Canucks hardware.
2008.09 winner: Alex Burrows
FRED J. HUME AWARD FOR UNSUNG HERO
<img src=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2009/12/dec2709_flames15_t.jpg class="imageFloatRightFramed">Willie Mitchell: Three goals and 10 points in 39 games played
Unsung hero is usually one of the most difficult awards to pick a winner because it's one of those honours that can simultaneously seem like there are too many and too few candidates. But so far this year, Willie Mitchell is the runaway winner of this award.
Mitchell's contributions don't often show up on the scoresheets but there is no Canuck who is counted on more than Willie game-in, game-out. The Port McNeill native leads all players on the team averaging 22:22 of ice-time per game, as well as leading the team in even-strength ice-time (18:13 average) and short-handed ice-time (3:57 average). Despite seeing the best of the best on the opposition nightly, he has still managed to rack up a plus-nine rating on the season.
Mitchell will also warrant consideration for the Babe Pratt Trophy (he's won the past two years) but if he doesn't walk away with that honour, he should at least be recognized as an Unsung Hero.
Other candidates include Tanner Glass (gone from being pegged to be a farmhand in the pre-season to solid third-line contributor with career-high numbers this season), Steve Bernier (quietly on pace to set career-highs in goals and points), Jannik Hansen (solid penalty killer who can play anywhere from the second to fourth line), and Rick Rypien (Mr. Energy who is showing he is more than just about the fisticuffs).
2008.09 winner: Steve Bernier
BABE PRATT TROPHY FOR MOST OUTSTANDING DEFENCEMAN
<img src=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2009/12/dec2009_ehrhoff_t.jpg class="imageFloatLeftFramed">Christian Ehrhoff: Eight goals and 21 points in 39 games
As mentioned earlier, this is an award that Mitchell should be given consideration for but very likely the engraving on the trophy already bears Ehrhoff's name.
The former San Jose Shark has been very impressive in his first season as a Canuck and has turned into what the Canucks had originally hoped Mathieu Schneider would be - a dependable puck-moving, power play quarterback. Ehrhoff is tied for the lead among all team defencemen with 21 points while he leads all blue-liners with eight goals. Last season, the highest scoring Canucks defenceman was Alex Edler who had seven goals.
2008.09 winner: Willie Mitchell
CYCLONE TAYLOR TROPHY AS CANUCKS MVP
<img src=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2009/12/205x115_4_121609.jpg class="imageFloatRightFramed">Henrik Sedin: 18 goals and 50 points in 39 games
It's hard to imagine where the Canucks would be had Henrik struggled while his brother Daniel was on the shelf for 18 games. Henrik, however, has shown that he's not only a great player in his own right, he is one of the NHL's elite players even if he does go about his business in a quiet way on most nights.
Through games played on Sunday, only one player in the entire NHL had more points than Henrik's 50 - that being San Jose's Joe Thornton who currently leads the League with 54 points. Henrik has also shown this season that he's more than just a one-dimensional offensive threat. His 18 goals on the season not only lead the team but put him in the same company among the likes of Patrick Kane (15), Rick Nash (19), Jarome Iginla (20) and Ilya Kovalchuk (22) - not too shabby for a guy who's known to pass first.
Henrik will get a run for his money from perennial MVP contender Roberto Luongo as well as the likes of Mason Raymond, Ryan Kesler and his brother Daniel Sedin but barring the unforeseen, you can consider this award signed, sealed, and delivered.
2008.09 winner: Ryan Kesler
Henrik also has a 17-point lead on second place Ryan Kesler in the race for the Cyrus H. McLean Trophy which is given annually to the Canucks leading point scorer at the end of the season. In 2008.09, Henrik along with Daniel were co-winners of the points award.
MOLSON CUP WINNER
<img src=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2009/10/oct2509_luongosave_t.jpg class="imageFloatLeftFramed">Here are the current standings for the Molson Cup which is awarded annually to the player who receives the most game star selections. Each star selection is worth five points with tie-breakers being settled by most first star selections followed by most second star selections, and so on.
Henrik Sedin - 55 points
Roberto Luongo - 50 points
Ryan Kesler - 35 points
Mason Raymond - 30 points
Daniel Sedin - 20 points
Andrew Raycroft - 15 points
Christian Ehrhoff - 15 points
Alex Edler - 15 points
Michael Grabner - 10 points
Mikael Samuelsson - 10 points
Alex Burrows - 10 points
Shane O'Brien - 10 points
Kyle Wellwood - 10 points
Willie Mitchell - 10 points
Cory Schneider - 5 points
Jannik Hansen - 5 points
Steve Bernier - 5 points
Number Crunching's official prediction is that Roberto Luongo will capture his fourth consecutive Molson Cup by season's end.
2008.09 winner: Roberto Luongo
BEST STAT OF THE FIRST HALF
<img src=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2009/12/dec1409_luongo_t.jpg class="imageFloatRightFramed">It goes without saying that getting off to a good start in a game goes a long way in securing two points at the end of the night and so far this season, few teams have gotten off to more good starts than the Canucks.
Through games played on Sunday, only two teams in the entire NHL had held a lead after the first period more times than Vancouver's 17 - the Washington Capitals (24) and the Colorado Avalanche (18) - while only the Capitals (49) have scored more first period goals than the Canucks' 45. Vancouver's 14 wins this season when leading after the first period is tied for second most in the NHL. Only the Blackhawks, with 15 wins, have more victories when leading after the first period.
What the Canucks would like to improve on in the second half of the season is their defensive game in first periods. While the Canucks are one of the best teams offensively in first periods, they've been one of the worst defensively having surrendered 35 goals in first periods this season - the most among all their periods this season. The Canucks have a record of 11-3-0 this season when they don't give up a first period goal.
WORST STAT OF THE FIRST HALF
<img src=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2009/12/dec2209_lu_t.jpg class="imageFloatLeftFramed">It has gotten much better in recent games, but the penalty killing was clearly a major thorn in the paw for the Canucks throughout the first half of the season. The Canucks have given up at least one power play goal in 21 of the 39 games they have played so far this season and the results haven't been pretty when they do give up a goal while short-handed.
Vancouver's record this season in games where they surrendered a power play goal is 7-14-0, much more devastating than last season when they managed to finish with a .500 record in games when giving up a man-advantage goal (20-20-8).
It gets even worse when they give up more than one power play goal to the opposition as they are just 2-6-0 in those games.
Through games played on Sunday, Vancouver's power play sat right smack in the middle of the NHL pack at number 15 with a success rate of 80.5 percent having allowed 29 goals on 149 times shorthanded.
NUMBER CRUNCHING PLAYER OF THE WEEK
The holidays are a time for giving so Number Crunching is doling out two POTW awards this week.
<img src=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2009/12/dec2209_sedin_t.jpg class="imageFloatRightFramed">Daniel Sedin: Two goals and seven points in three games
It was a banner week for the 29-year old forward who was looking to rebound after ending the previous week with no points in the final two games.
Daniel began the week with a three-point night (1-2-3) against the Predators and followed that up with another three-point night (1-2-3) on Boxing Day versus the Oilers. After finding out officially on Sunday morning that he would be representing Sweden at the 2010 Winter Olympics, Daniel celebrated the news by extending his point streak to three games with an assist against the Flames.
The point against Calgary also marked Daniel's 20th point in December tying his personal best for most points recorded in a single month (March 2007).
<img src=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2009/12/dec1409_bieksa_t.jpg class="imageFloatLeftFramed">Mason Raymond: Three goals and four points in three games
There is no better place than home to spend the holidays and Mason Raymond would definitely attest to that. The Alberta native, playing in front of family and friends at the Pengrowth Saddledome in Calgary on Sunday, netted his first career hat trick to close out the week in a 5-1 win for the Canucks.
Included in the three-goal outing for the 24-year old was also his team-leading eighth power play goal of the season - double his entire total from all of last season. It's going to be all gravy for the left winger from this point out in terms of single-season career totals. He has already set new highs in goals (17) and points (29) and his next assist will give him a new career-high in the helpers category as well.
His next major milestone will be his 100th career NHL point. He's currently sitting at 76 career points (40-36-76) but given his current pace, it's not a stretch of the imagination to think that he'll be able to reach that mark before the end of the 2009.10 regular season.
In the spirit of the holiday season, there will be no Crunched By The Numbers player this week.
And while I have this opportunity, I would like to wish every member of the Canucks Community a very happy and prosperous New Year! Thanks for reading and see you all in 2010.