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<img src="http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2007/09/092907_oilers16_b.jpg" class="imageFloatLeftFramed" width="320" height="240">I was disappointed when I found out that Darcy Hordichuk would be scratched in favour of Rick Rypien because in my eyes he's been invisible all year long. I made it my goal to watch Rypien carefully and critically Monday night. My assessment is in and Rypien should not be in the lineup over Hordichuk and Hansen. As a whole our fourth line was owned by Buffalo's. The line was benched for the entire third period and Ryan Johnson only got shifts on the penalty kill. Individually, Rypien was invisible all night. As the team's supposed energy player I expect him to be banging bodies when he's not fighting. On Monday night, he was credited with one hit. That is simply not enough for your energy forward. By my count, he got hit at by the opposition more than he made attempts to take runs at people. If he's not hitting, then Rypien just becomes the one-dimensional goon. If he's going to be a one-dimension goon, I would rather have a legit heavyweight in the lineup like Calgary's Brian McGrattan or Minnesota's Derek Boogaard who can intimidate the opposition. Let's face it; Rypien is not going to be intimidating anybody on the ice with his 5'11" and 170 pound frame other than the Darcy Tuckers of the world. Luongo's words after Rypien defeated the 6'7" Boris Valabik in a fight: "I've never been so pumped up after a fight in my whole life," said Luongo. "I was happy for him and he deserves it. He's a great guy. Obviously great fight, so it was pretty impressive." It's great that Rypien can bring energy through his fights, but when he's not in fights, he's invisible man out there. This season, Rypien's established himself as one of the best, if not the best middleweights in the league. As a result, it is going to be hard for him to find a dance partner unless he steps out of his weight class like St. Louis' Cam Janssen and start fighting the heavyweights. People like to bring up the fact that between Rypien and Hordichuk, Rypien has the better offensive game. But it's the fourth line, I don't expect them to score. I expect them to bring energy, emotion, and strong forecheck. If they can chip in the odd goal, great. But it's energy, emotion, and a strong forecheck first. Hordichuk is everything Rypien isn't. Hordichuk's constantly dumping the puck in and flying in on the forecheck to bang bodies. In my eyes, Hordichuk's the guy that makes the fourth line go. On Saturday night, the fourth line unit with Hordichuk and Glass on the wings and Ryan Johnson in the middle was as effective as I've seen the fourth line all year long. The line was fast; they got the puck in deep, and were on the forecheck banging bodies almost instantaneously. For the first time, we finally saw some vintage Ryan Johnson, something we haven't seen at all since he signed in Vancouver. On Monday, you replace Hordichuk with Rypien and the line seemed lost out there. There was absolutely no forecheck from the line and they were more often than not trapped in the Vancouver end of the ice by Buffalo's fourth line. Rypien had a bout with the stomach flu and lost weight from it, but why is he in the lineup if that's stopping him from playing his game? A guy like Alex Bolduc was willing to fight 6'8" John Scott to keephis spot in the lineup, but Rypien keeps on getting a spot handed to him even though he's been absolutely useless and invisible all year long five-on-five. Bolduc got the scouting report on Scott from both Darcy Hordichuk and defenceman Shane O'Brien, but still proceeded to fight Scott because he wanted to impress the coaches and keep his job in the NHL. Perhaps Rypien's body cannot hold up to the constant banging, but I rather have an oft-injured Rypien that makes a difference in the lineup once a year, than the useless Rypien we are seeing right now.
Between Ref-gate, Fight-gate and The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien (whoops, wrong forum), there was certainly no shortage of controversial topics this past week. Here on Number Crunching, we certainly don't shy away from controversy as we take a look at the best and worst statistics from the week that was in Canucks hockey and answer that burning question of just whether the refs really do hold a grudge against the boys in blue. And as always, read on to find out who takes home this week's coveted Number Crunching Player of the Week Award. ZEBRA WATCH <img src=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2010/01/jan0910_ryptwo_t.jpg class="imageFloatLeftFramed">We can't imagine Alex Burrows or many others in Canuck Nation are too thrilled with the crew in stripes this week particularly in light of everything that happened last Monday against the Nashville Predators. In fairness to the zebras, however, up until this recent week Canuck Nation was probably pretty happy with the way things had gone with the officiating overall on the season. Including the games from this past week's games, the Canucks have earned more power play opportunities versus their opponents in exactly half of the 48 games they have played this season. In five of the 48 games played, the Canucks have had an equal amount of power play chances as their opponents and in the remaining 19, the Canucks have had fewer power play opportunities compared to the other team. Here are Vancouver's respective records this season in each of the three scenarios: When getting more PP chances than opponent: 15-9-0 When getting fewer PP chances than opponent: 10-8-1 When getting equal PP chances as opponent: 3-1-1 Interestingly, until Saturday's contest against the Penguins, the Canucks had not received more power play opportunities in a game compared to their opponents since the turn of the calendar to 2010. ALL GIVE AND NO TAKE <img src=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2010/01/jan1310_wild02_t.jpg class="imageFloatRightFramed">Without a doubt Vancouver's worst showing of the week came in Minnesota on Wednesday as they took one on the chin in a 5-2 loss to the Wild, which was about the only thing they managed to take away in that game. For the first time all season, the Canucks were completely shutout in the takeaways column as they were credited with a grand total of zero. Vancouver's previous low for takeaways this season came way back on October 19th in Edmonton when they were credited with a measly two takeaways in a 2-1 loss to the Oilers. Through 48 games this season, the Canucks are averaging 7.375 takeaways per game. Their best night as far as takeaways are concerned came about two weeks ago on January 7th against the Coyotes when they recorded a season-high 12 takeaways. Those looking for a correlation between takeaways and wins will probably be a little bit underwhelmed going solely by Vancouver's numbers this season. In the 11 games where the Canucks have recorded ten-or-more takeaways as a team, their record is 6-4-1. As far as best "takers" on the team, Ryan Kesler and Alex Burrows are the runaway leaders with 54 and 43, respectively, this season. Behind them in a distant third place tie are Mikael Samuelsson and Henrik Sedin, who each have 25 takeaways each so far this season. THE BEST OF DEMO <img src=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2008/12/122808_hankpavol_tt.jpg class="imageFloatLeftFramed">Without a doubt, the best part of the week for the Canucks had to be seeing jersey No. 38 out on the ice in a game for the first time since last May so in honour of Pavol Demitra's triumphant return to the Vancouver lineup, Number Crunching presents the following "Best of Demo" stats: Canucks record in 2008.09 when Demitra scores a goal (regular season): 14-3-1 Canucks record in 2008.09 with Demitra out of lineup (regular season): 6-4-3 Longest goal streak by Demitra as a Canuck: 4 games (Nov. 17 - 22, 2008) Longest point streak by Demitra as a Canuck: 6 games (5-5-10 from Nov. 15 - 24, 2008) MILESTONES <img src=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2010/01/jan0510_twins_t.jpg class="imageFloatRightFramed">Number Crunching congratulates Daniel Sedin on reaching his 500th career NHL point on Saturday against Pittsburgh with his first assist of the game on brother Henrik Sedin's goal. Daniel became the second player this season to reach 500 points as a Canuck joining brother Henrik and officially became the sixth player to do so in all-time franchise history joining Markus Naslund (756), Trevor Linden (733), Stan Smyl (673), Thomas Gradin (550) and Henrik Sedin (527+). In honour of Daniel's latest achievement, here is a rundown of some of Daniel's more memorable career moments (courtesy of the Canucks Media Guide): First career NHL game: October 5, 2000 at Philadelphia Flyers First career NHL goal (and point): October 8, 2000 at Tampa Bay Lightning 100th career NHL game: November 23, 2001 at Boston Bruins 100th career NHL point: October 18, 2003 at Minnesota Wild 500th career NHL game: November 23, 2007 at St. Louis Blues 500th career NHL point: January 16, 2010 vs. Pittsburgh Penguins NUMBER CRUNCHING PLAYER OF THE WEEK <img src=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2010/01/canucks3_205x115_011110.jpg class="imageFloatLeftFramed">Alex Burrows: Four goals in three games If there are any Timex executives currently reading this blog, we'd like to give you some free advice and suggest that you contact Alex Burrows immediately and offer him an endorsement deal because here is a player who clearly can take a licking and keep on ticking. In Burrows' case, the licking came first from referee Stephane Auger on Monday, followed by NHL disciplinarian Colin Campbell on Tuesday in the form of a $2500 fine and then again on Saturday by Ron MacLean on Hockey Night in Canada in a segment that had about as much integrity as a house of cards. For his part, the 28-year old Burrows didn't seem to be phased much by the off-ice distractions this week as he continued his red hot streak by netting goals in all three games of the week and extending his season-high and career-high point streak to eight games dating back to December 31st (11-2-13). He enters action this week riding his third three-game goal streak of the season and will have an opportunity on Wednesday in Edmonton to match a career-high if he can find the back of the net against the Oilers. His last four-game goal streak came last season from March 9th to 15th. His current eight-game point streak is already double his previous career-high of four games. CRUNCHED BY THE NUMBERS <img src=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2010/01/jan1310_wild08_t.jpg class="imageFloatRightFramed">Alex Bolduc: 6'8", 258 lbs. For those who follow the Canucks closely, you will know that the measurements listed above do not belong to Alex Bolduc. Rather, they belong to Minnesota Wild tough guy John Scott - who the 6'3", 200 lbs. Bolduc decided was a good idea to challenge to a scrap on Wednesday in Minnesota in what was a lost cause with the Canucks down 5-2 in the third period to the Wild with less than half a period to go. While you can't help but applaud the courage of the 24-year old Bolduc, one has to question whether it was the bright idea in light of the fact Bolduc had just recently returned from a shoulder injury. As it turns out, Bolduc was literally crunched by the intimidating physical numbers of John Scott and ended up re-aggravating the shoulder injury and is now out of the lineup indefinitely. Bolduc was averaging less than 10 minutes per game but was a key component on the Canucks penalty kill - particularly with Ryan Johnson also out of the lineup. Bolduc was also one of Vancouver's best players in the faceoff circle. Among Canucks who have played 10-or-more games this season, Bolduc ranked third on the team with a faceoff win rate of 54 percent - behind only Ryan Kesler (55.8) and Kyle Wellwood (54.3)
<img src="http://cdn.nhl.com/islanders/images/upload/2009/10/biron_102609_sm.jpg" class="imageFloatLeftFramed">Edmonton interested in Boucher and Biron Allow me to be the first to report, the Edmonton Oilers are interested in the services of Brian Boucher of Philadelphia and Martin Biron of the New York Islanders after learning that Nikolai Khabibulin will be out indefinitely following back surgery. In both Philadelphia and New York, Boucher and Biron both have been outplayed and now are their respective team's third-string goalie. Am I the first or has Eklund's "sources" told him already? Make sure you come back here for the latest "rumours." <img src="http://img85.imageshack.us/img85/3443/hordickhuk1.jpg" class="imageFloatRightFramed">"Hordickhuk" How about this for a typo from the guys at the Toronto Sports Network? You'd think they have an editor that proofreads an article before something like "Hordickhuk" gets published on Canada's largest sports site. Names can be tough sometimes, like Nino Niederreiter. But "dizzzy?" Zzzzzzzzzzzzzz. "The coach is making us fight you guys." So the other story coming out of Wednesday night's loss was Derek Boogaard telling Michael Russo of the Minnesota Star-Tribune that Hordichuk told him "the coach is making us fight you guys." Missing from the TSN and other reports was that Boogaard said "I don't really agree with that." Both Hordichuk and Vigneault denied these allegations. This comment on TSN.ca by "arrowsno13ban" pretty much sums it up: <img src="http://cdn.nhl.com/images/upload/2009/03/John-Scott4.jpg" class="imageFloatRightFramed">Massive Props to Alex Bolduc Earlier in the game, Rick Rypien was dumped at the side of the net by John Scott. Rypien collected himself and made a straight bee line back to the bench not even daring to give Scott a glare. So massive props to Alex Bolduc for taking on 6'8" Scott...props for even giving him a stare. Bolduc is listed as 6'1" and 178 pounds on NHL.com, but he is in actually 6'3" and 200 pounds. So don't feel as bad, he only gave up about 50 pounds and five inches. How about John Scott as a Canuck? Since we're on the topic of John Scott, how about him as a Canuck? Earlier on in the season, there were unsustainable rumours that the Canucks were talking to the Wild about possibly acquiring his services. Obviously, the trade hasn't happened yet and probably won't happen. Both Scott and Derek Boogaard are unrestricted free agents at the end the season and chances are the Wild won't be keeping both. Boogaard will make $1,025,000 this season, while Scott made the league minimum of $500,000 and will get a raise. In eight NHL career fights, Scott has decisively won them all and has displayed the ability to play a regular shift on defence as the sixth man or a regular shift on the fourth line. If he hits the open market, go for it Gillis, sign Scott to a multi-year deal at $1 million per season. He'd be perfect as seventh defenceman or 13th forward. A million bucks is about right. Colton Orr's getting $1 million in Toronto. Brashear is getting $1.5 million in New York. Laraque is getting $1.5 million in Montreal. Hnidy's holding on tight! Shane Hnidy was holding pretty tight with his fight with Tanner Glass last night. So tight that Glass's jersey ripped. Why even challenge somebody if you're going to bear hug the person?