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  1. With the Vancouver Canucks advancing to the Conference finals for the third time in franchise history, the debate is on: Who would they rather face, the Detroit Red Wings or San Jose Sharks? Roberto Luongo celebrates from his knees shortly after making his last save in Game 6 (photo courtesy of Frederick Breedon/ Getty Images) Of course, for the time being, the Canucks have the luxury of taking a well-earned 'breather' until either Saturday or Sunday. They jumped out to a 2-0 lead against the Predators at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville Monday night, guiding home a tight defensive effort to close the series. Henrik Sedin spoke to the feeling of putting away a plucky Predators team, anchored by solid defense and goaltending. "Relief," started the Canucks captain. "It was one of those series where they get on a roll and win this game, and all of a sudden there's a seventh game. That's the playoffs. There were a lot of ups and downs, so we are happy." But Ryan Kesler, who almost literally put the team on his back and delivered the series, insists the team isn't congratulating itself yet. "We have bigger things in mind," stated the leading playoff point producer. We're not just going to be satisfied making it to the conference finals." Kesler set up both goals in the series clincher, and was in on a remarkable 10 of 14 goals in the series overall. Ryan Kesler: "We have bigger things in mind. We're not just going to be satisfied making it to the conference finals." The Canucks now await the victor from the San Jose - Detroit series, where the Wings have erased a 3-0 deficit, and trail 3-2. Another Selke trophy (best defensive forward) finalist, Pavel Datsyuk, has hoisted his team and led the way with several clutch performances. So, who would the Canucks rather play - The Red Wings or the Sharks? Although the regular season encounters can only reveal so much information regarding possible playoff match-ups, let's see how they fared in each 4 game set. Canucks vs Detroit Red Wings: Series tied 2-2 (Canucks take 6 of 8 possible points) Nov. 6 - (6-4 win) Canucks pepper Wings goaltender Jimmy Howard with 23 shots in the third period, scoring 3 times in that span. Niklas Kronwall and Manny Malhotra score twice. Dec. 22 - (4-5 OT loss) Both teams shoot the lights out, combining for 84 shots. The Sedins both score, but Henrik Zetterberg bags a couple, including the overtime winner. Jan. 8 - (1-2 Shootout loss) Roberto Luongo and Jimmy Howard record a dazzling .970 save percentage; Jiri Hudler scores the lone shootout goal, killing the Vancouver fans' Saturday night buzz. Mar. 23 (2-1 win) Both goalies put on another superb display, and the twins produce Daniel's 39th and 40th goals of the season. Luongo stops 39 of 40 shots. Both team captains, Henrik Sedin and Shea Weber, shake hands at center ice - the previous two years this was the Canucks' queue to exit the playoffs (photo courtesy of AP Photo) Canucks vs San Jose Sharks: Canucks win series 3-1 (take 7 of possible 8 points) Nov. 26 - (6-1 win) San Jose outshot the Canucks 33-32, but Luongo stymies the Sharks, Keith Ballard scores his 1st as a Canuck, and Mikael Samuelsson records a pair of goals. Jan. 3 - (4-3 win) The Sharks score 3 in the second period, but Alex Burrows and Daniel Sedin lead the way with a goal and an assist each at the HP Pavilion, dubbed the "Shark Tank". Jan. 20 - (1-2 shootout loss) Roberto Luongo and Antti Niemi headline this affair; San Jose outshot the Canucks 46-37, uber-rookie Logan Couture scores in regulation, and Joe Pavelski scores the lone goal of the shootout. Mar. 10 - (5-4 shootout win) Cory Schneider gets riddled with 48 shots, but is perfect in the shootout. Alex Burrows, Sami Salo, Mason Raymond and Daniel Sedin record singles, with Burrows sealing the shootout with it's only goal. Interestingly, though many Canucks fans have voiced their desire to avoid San Jose in the conference finals, Vancouver sported a better regular season record against them. Fans cite the Sharks physical style of play as being their main deterrent to playing them in the third round of the playoffs. A common thread for the Canucks is that 6 of the 8 games played against the Sharks and Red Wings were decided by one goal. One thing all Canucks fans can agree on, though, is that they hope the Red Wings win Game 6, extending the series and hopefully tiring out their next round opponent. Memories 17 years in the making, I'm Larenzo Jensen with The Canuck Way
  2. No matter how they got here, or what direction they want to take in the future, the Vancouver Canucks are literally playing the most important game of their lives. Only three times in history has an NHL team erased a 3-0 series deficit to advance to the next round of the playoffs. There has been a lot of talk about the Canucks' chances of earning the dubious distinction as the fourth team to facilitate such a collapse. Rife with drama and storylines, this series has seen it all, from big controversial hits, to starting goaltending controversy, and questionable officiating. But it all takes a back seat to the drama in store tonight at Rogers Arena in Vancouver at 7:00 pm PST. A lot of experts agree that momentum clearly is the advantage the Chicago Blackhawks carry into Game 7. But the Canucks aren't without positive signs - they outworked the Blackhawks for most of Game 6, as well as controlling the tempo and play through the majority of the game. Rather than recap all that's been, I'd like to shift focus onto Four Keys for the colossal Game Seven. Key 1: Setting the tone Getting off to a fast, motivated start, complete with energetic, hard-hitting physical shifts has been integral to both teams' success so far this series. More than any other night, it's imperative for the Canucks to wrest momentum back in their corner. The Canucks were able to surprise the Blackhawks physically in the first three games, with Alain Vigneault doing an excellent job rolling through his deep lines, and establishing a solid forecheck. With the element of surprise gone, it'll be extremely important for the third and fourth lines to deliver effective hits, getting Blackhawk defenders worrying about what is coming, not what they're going to set up. Alex Burrows was one of the best Canucks in Game 6, and will need to put it all on the line tonight against the Hawks (photo courtesy of Jonathan Daniel / Getty Images) Key 2: Sedins re-establishing the cycle game A very positive sign in the second period of Game 6 was the amount of time that Daniel, Henrik and Mikael (Samuelsson) spent in the Blackhawks zone. Their cycling of the puck is what made them so effective and dangerous in the regular season, and they appeared to be wearing down the Hawks defenders with it. Both teams have done a good job collapsing down low to limit the rebound chances, but Vancouver could gain a decided advantage if the Sedins force Chicago to expend valuable energy chasing the puck down low. Key 3: Goaltending performance There is no question in my mind that Roberto Luongo will be starting Game 7. Subsequently, despite having played for Olympic Gold, and playing in some large playoff settings before, this is the game of his life. In only his first year of a 12 year, $64 M contract, the stakes couldn't be higher. Win or lose, it's up to Roberto to prove he can come through when it's all on the line. He did it before against the Dallas Stars, but fair or not, tonight will completely shape the rest of his career, given his past performances against the Blackhawks. Key 4: Officiating Unfortunately, the officiating has been suspect the last 3 games, and has been a hot button topic, not only in Vancouver, but League-wide. The Blackhawks have enjoyed a 22-12 edge (in powerplay chances) over the last four games, and hockey pundits agree that GM Mike Gillis had reason to be irate after Game 6. If the officials decide to punish the Canucks with more penalties, and miss calls like the one on Dave Bolland slashing Henrik Sedin's stick in half, it could be a very frustrating game for Canucks' fans. Expect the boo-birds to come out if the officials call the game similarly to Game Six. At the end of the day, though it's little solace for Canucks fans, the hockey world will benefit from what should be an intense Game Seven. This is what hockey is all about, and every youngster in love with the sport dreams about playing a significant role in a deciding Game Seven. Will it be elation, or utter dejection for Canucks fans following this pivotal game in the series and franchises' history? Kevin Bieksa might have set the stage the best: "Sometimes it takes all your lifelines to earn $1 million. That's where we're at. We've used our 3." Wishing the Canucks every fortune here from The Canuck Way, I'm Larenzo Jensen
  3. The February 28th trade deadline came and went, with the Vancouver Canucks adding without subtracting. With the additions of Chris Higgins and Maxim Lapierre, the Canucks now find their forward ranks replete with depth and character. Roles once filled by Ryan Kesler and Alex Burrows as agitating, shift disturbing defensive types, have been filled by Lapierre and Higgins. General Manager Mike Gillis added the two players without surrendering a roster player. Instead, he moved 3rd round picks to both the Anaheim Ducks and the Florida Panthers, as well as minor leaguers Joel Perrault and Evan Oberg. "I think we added experience and we added a little bit of a different element than we possess on this team currently." New Canuck recruits, Chris Higgins and Maxim Lapierre Higgins, though currently out of action with a broken thumb, is likely out another 10 games. Though he will debut on the fourth line, there is the opportunity for him to bump up to another line. Higgins, though with only 11 goals and 23 points this year with Florida, had three straight 20 goal years with the Canadiens. "It wasn't predicated on Mason's play at all. What we wanted to do was to strengthen in areas we didn't currently have," Gillis added. Lapierre, who was brought in to center the fourth line between Tanner Glass and Jeff Tambellini, has worked under Alain Vigneault before. He played three seasons of junior hockey in Prince Edward Island, and he credits Vigneault with improving his play within a system. "He was in the NHL before he came to junior so he helped me a lot in my development when I was young and I'm glad to be back with him." He played 5:41 in his first game with the Canucks Tuesday night against the Columbus Blue Jackets, and was a minus one, with two penalty minutes. Maxim Lapierre studied under Alain Vigneault for 3 years in Prince Edward Island Lapierre and Higgins were teammates for three seasons in Montreal. "I have always been a pretty versatile player who can be used in a variety of different situations," Higgins explained. "I am just looking to build chemistry with whoever I am playing with in Vancouver. If I can score some goals, that would be great, but I am just looking forward to finding my niche on the team and being able to contribute every night." Canuck fans were head over heals for this boisterous hit on Jakub Voracek by Dan Hamhuis (photos courtesy of AP Photo) As he quite often does, Alex Burrows added a little humor. In his response to having another Francophone joining the club, he quipped: "It's always good to add a few French Fry guys. There's too many Swedes in this dressing room." Of course, in our household, there's still only one "Little Frenchie". But we certainly are curious to see what dynamic the newest Canucks add.
  4. It is a contemplative week for Number Crunching as we look towards the end of the regular season and the start of the playoffs for the 2010 Northwest Division Champions Vancouver Canucks. As part of our reflection, we take a trip down memory lane and revisit our mid-season award predictions and give our final thoughts on which Canucks should walk away this season with some hardware. WHAT IF DANIEL SEDIN DID NOT MISS 19 GAMES THIS SEASON DUE TO INJURY? <img src= class="imageFloatLeftFramed">Henrik Sedin had a bad sense of déjà vu this past Thursday in Los Angeles (in addition to the bad taste left in his mouth from an 8-3 shellacking at the hands of the Kings) when - for the first time since mid-November - he looked over to his left winger and didn't see the familiar face of brother Daniel starring back at him. Despite playing in a career-high 19 games without Daniel this season (Daniel's previous career-high for most regular season games missed in a single year was seven while Henrik's is six), Henrik has managed to hold his own as evidenced by him challenging for the Art Ross Trophy this season as the NHL's leading point scorer. So just where would Henrik be had Daniel been by his side for all 79 games and counting this season? Henrik has been a point-a-game player so far this with Daniel out of the lineup scoring 10 goals and 19 points in 19 games with his brother on the shelf and while that pace would have been enough to match his previous career-high already, with brother Daniel in the lineup Henrik has been (naturally) even more dynamic. Through 60 games with Daniel in the lineup, Henrik is averaging 1.45 points-per-game with 19 goals and 87 points. If he managed to keep that pace for an entire 82-game season, Henrik would have finished this season with roughly 119 points. In that alternate reality, only three post-lockout players would have had more points in a single season than Henrik: Joe Thornton (125 points in 2005.06), Jaromir Jagr (123 points in 2005.06) and Sidney Crosby (120 points in 2006.07). WHAT IF THE CANUCKS DON'T WIN ON THURSDAY IN SAN JOSE? <img src= class="imageFloatRightFramed">If the Canucks don't secure at least a single point against the Sharks on Thursday in their final road game of the season, it will mark the first time since the 2000.01 season that the Canucks will qualify for the playoffs despite having a losing road record during the regular season. Having a sub-.500 record away from home heading into the playoffs is nothing new for the organization however. Out of the previous 22 times the Canucks have qualified for the post-season, only nine times have they had a .500 or better road record heading into the playoffs. So how has a positive road record during the regular season translated into success away from the home in the playoffs? In years where Vancouver's regular season road record is at .500 or better (1991.92, 1992.93, 1993.94, 1995.96, 2001.02 2002.03, 2003.04, 2006.07 and 2008.09), Vancouver's combined road record in the playoffs is 26-24. In years where Vancouver's regular season road record is below .500, Vancouver's combined road record in the playoffs is 12-24. WHAT IF THE CANUCKS HAD NOT BEEN BLOWN OUT BY THE KINGS ON THURSDAY? <img src= class="imageFloatLeftFramed">With the Canucks being pounded on the scoreboard on Thursday in Los Angeles, they opted to take a small measure of revenge out on their opponents by dishing out 32 hits versus just 15 delivered by the Kings that night. The 17-hit differential in favour of the Canucks marked a season-high for Vancouver surpassing the 16-hit positive differential they had way back on October 5, 2009 in their home opener - a 5-3 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets. Overall, it was just the third time this season Vancouver has out-hit an opponent by double digits and good thing too considering the Canucks are 0-3-0 in those three games. Conversely, the Canucks' record this season when out-hit by double digits is 7-5-1. NUMBER CRUNCHING PLAYER OF THE WEEK <img src= class="imageFloatRightFramed">Michael Grabner: Three goals and five points in four games played. After just one point in his first five games back in the NHL, Michael Grabner finally found his game this past week recording a three-game point streak from March 30 - April 2, highlighted by his first-career NHL hat trick on Friday against the Anaheim Ducks. There may have been grumblings about Grabner being slotted right away onto the second line upon his return to the NHL - ahead of a 20-goal scorer such as Mason Raymond - but Grabner quickly put his critics to rest by having the best week of his NHL career to date. Grabner's emergence and the respective returns of Pavol Demitra and Mikael Samuelsson to the Canucks lineup now gives the Canucks three solid scoring lines heading into the playoffs. With Steve Bernier inching closer towards a return to the lineup as well, the Canucks could arguably be the deepest team at the forward position compared to all other NHL playoff-bound clubs. CRUNCHED BY THE NUMBERS <img src= class="imageFloatLeftFramed">Kevin Bieksa: One goal...err, almost, in four games played. In the immortal words of Dr. Evil: "Throwing me a frickin' bone here!" After not finding the back of the net since Vancouver's season opener back on October 1, 2009, Kevin Bieksa looked to have finally bumped the goal slump on Sunday when he was credited with a goal against the Minnesota Wild in the second period of that contest...or so he thought. Unfortunately, 17 minutes worth of intermission time and the work of some overzealous off-ice officials at GM Place on Sunday took away what would have been Bieksa's second goal of the season and gave it to Kyle Wellwood. (Remember when fans booed Tanner Glass earlier in the season for being credited with a goal that was initially thought to be Wellwood's? Ah memories.) To his credit, Bieksa still finished the week off with two assists (should have been a goal and an assist...just saying) and now has 18 helpers on the season. A LOOK BACK AT NUMBER CRUNCHING'S MID-SEASON AWARDS Back in late December - when this blog was in still in its infancy - we came out with our Special Mid-Season Awards Edition where we gave you our picks for the Canucks award winners had the season ended at the same time the 2009 calendar year did. Here's a look back at those picks and what our final thoughts are now: <img src= class="imageFloatRightFramed">Most Exciting Player Mid-season pick: Mason Raymond Year-end pick: Alex Burrows Analysis: After 39 games gone by in the season, only one player - Henrik Sedin - had more goals on the team than Mason Raymond who had already shattered his previous career-high with 17 tallies. Raymond's production has dropped since then with just seven goals in his last 40 games. But even with that said, it is clear Alex Burrows is the runaway pick for this award. His back-to-back hat tricks just a week after that blog was published was a sign of things to come for the Pincourt, QC native who looks poised to finish the season with the most goals on the team. <img src= class="imageFloatLeftFramed">Fred J. Hume Award for Unsung Hero Mid-season pick: Willie Mitchell Year-end pick: Andrew Raycroft Analysis: Perhaps this award should still go to Willie Mitchell considering Vancouver's struggles at the defensive end of the ice since his absence. Number Crunching is good, but not good enough to predict Willie would last just over two more weeks after that blog was published before being shut down (we assume) for the rest of the season due to a concussion. However, it's hard to argue with what Raycroft has done in the second half of the season. Since that blog was published, Raycroft's highlights include stepping into a 3-0 deficit in Toronto and helping the Canucks pull out a 5-3 win back on January 30 and clinching a playoff spot for the boys on April 2 in Anaheim with a 5-4 shootout victory. His nine wins (and counting) this season are the most by a Canucks back-up in the Roberto Luongo era. <img src= class="imageFloatRightFramed">Babe Pratt Trophy for Most Outstanding Defenceman Mid-season pick: Christian Ehrhoff Year-end pick: Christian Ehrhoff Analysis: He's been Mr. Consistency on the back-end all season. His 14 goals and 43 points lead all Canucks defencemen in those categories while he also has an eye-popping plus-33 rating. The Canucks can only hope his tweaked knee at the end of Sunday's win over the Wild at GM Place is nothing serious. <img src= class="imageFloatLeftFramed">Cyclone Taylor Trophy as Canucks MVP Mid-season pick: Henrik Sedin Year-end pick: Henrik Sedin Analysis: We figured he would runaway with the team's scoring lead, but we never thought he'd be close to running away for the NHL's scoring title as well. Henrik is not only a shoe-in for the team MVP, he deserves serious consideration for the Hart Trophy as NHL MVP as well (Ken Campbell...I'm looking at you). <img src= class="imageFloatRightFramed">Molson Cup Winner Mid-season pick: Roberto Luongo Year-end pick: Henrik Sedin Analysis: Somewhere between our Mid-Season Awards blogand now, the Canucks official Media Game Notes package stopped listing the full points standings for the Molson Cup - which is given the player with the most three-star selections at the end of the season. What we can tell you is that Henrik has won the monthly award three times (October, November, March), Luongo twice (January and February) and Kesler once (December). Our initial thought when picking Luongo mid-season (even though Henrik actually led the standings at the time of that blog) was we felt as good as Henrik had performed to that point, Luongo would be a difference most nights for Vancouver down the stretch. Let's just say we were right about that...but not so much in the way we thought it would work out. Statistics and other information appearing in this blog are for entertainment purposes only and a sense of humour is recommended. E-mail the author here or follow him on Twitter.
  5. It is not quite the same as winning a Gold medal but a 3-1-0 record for the Canucks in their first week back is definitely reason for celebration in Canucks Nation. And another reason to celebrate is because Number Crunching returns for edition No. 12 as we look back at the best stats from the week that was in Canucks hockey. As always, find out who earns this week's honour as the Number Crunching Player of the Week. THE ROAD LESS TRAVELLED <img src= class="imageFloatLeftFramed">If the Canucks manage to finish this season with a record above .500 on the road, it will be by far the most difficult path the Canucks have ever taken in franchise history to secure a better than .500 record away from their home arena. This season, the Canucks moved above the .500 mark on the road for the first time in their 32nd road game this past week after their 6-3 win in Detroit gave them a record of 16-15-1 on the road at the time (they ended the week with an overall record of 17-16-1 on the road). Out of the seven previous times the Canucks have finished a season with a record above .500 on the road, the longest it had ever taken them to initially move above .500 was six games. That mark was set in 2003.04 after the Canucks opened their road season 0-2-1 before winning their next three straight games away from GM Place to move above the bar for the first time that year. They would end up finishing that season with a 22-11-8 record on the road. In addition to 2003.04, the Canucks have also finished with above .500 road records in the following seasons: 1991.92, 1992.93, 1995.96, 2002.03, 2006.07 and 2008.09. FIRST TO 40 <img src= class="imageFloatRightFramed">The Canucks recorded their 40th victory of the season on Sunday afternoon in Nashville and in the process set a new franchise record for being the quickest Canucks team to reach the 40-win mark. This year's team, which recorded the 40th victory in their 65th game of the season, narrowly beat out the 2006.07 team that recorded win No. 40 in game No. 67 that season. The 2006.07 team still holds the franchise record for most victories in a single season with 49 although this year's squad figures to give them a good run for that mark as they have 17 games remaining to try and net 10-or-more wins to break the old record. The following is a list of 40-plus win Canuck teams with the number in the brackets indicating the game in which they reached the 40th win of the season, respectively: 1991.92: 42 wins (71)* 1992.93: 46 wins (76)** 1993.94: 41 wins (81)** 2001.02: 42 wins (80) 2002.03: 45 wins (70) 2003.04: 43 wins (79) 2005.06: 42 wins (74) 2006.07: 49 wins (67) 2008.09: 45 wins (74) 2009.10: 40 wins and counting (65) *denotes 80-game season *denotes 84-game season THE PATH OF LEAST RESISTANCE <img src= class="imageFloatLeftFramed">The Detroit Red Wings typically offer a tough test for the Canucks each time the two teams meet but if you thought Wednesday's game in Motown was a bit of a cakewalk for the visitors, there is one key statistic that would back up that assertion. The Red Wings, who saw starting netminder Jimmy Howard yanked in the contest, did little to support either of their two goaltenders in that game blocking just three shots in the entire contest. The three blocked shots marked the fewest blocked shots by by a Canucks opponent this season. Prior to Wednesday's game, the fewest blocked shots a Canucks opponent had this season in a single game was six which had happened twice: San Jose (November 29, 2009) and New Jersey (December 2, 2009). Up to and including Vancouver's contest against Nashville on Sunday, the Canucks have had an average of 13.1 shots blocked per game. The Canucks, meanwhile, have averaged 12.3 blocked shots per game this season through 65 games played. The Canucks have a record of 7-6-0 this season in games where they have had fewer than 10 shots blocked. 149 TO 100 <img src= class="imageFloatRightFramed">Congratulations to Canucks' netminder Andrew Raycroft for picking up his 100th career NHL victory this past week on Tuesday with a 4-3 overtime win over the Columbus Blue Jackets. Raycroft became the 149th all-time netminder to 100 NHL victories and joins the likes of currently active goaltenders such as Phoenix's Ilya Bryzgalov, Minnesota's Niklas Backstrom, St. Louis' Chris Mason and Columbus' Mathieu Garon to have recorded their 100th NHL victory during the 2009.10 NHL season. NUMBER CRUNCHING PLAYER OF THE WEEK <img src= class="imageFloatLeftFramed">Ryan Kesler: Three goals and five points in four games played. If Ryan Kesler carried any frustration with him after narrowly missing out on an Olympic Gold medal in Vancouver just over a week ago, he clearly decided to take out some of that out against his NHL opponents. The Livonia, MI native was a one-man wrecking crew at times leading the Canucks in goals and points this week while in the process extending his career-high point streak to nine games (five games prior to the Olympic break and four games after). Honourable mentions include Alex Burrows, who proved two weeks off wasn't enough time to cool down his hot stick as he also had three goals this week, and Mikael Samuelsson, whose "demotion" to the third line didn't stop his goal scoring abilities as he also finished with three goals this week. CRUNCHED BY THE NUMBERS <img src= class="imageFloatRightFramed">Roberto Luongo: 2-1-0 record with a 4.29 GAA and a .875 save percentage. Call it an Olympic hangover but there were times this week when the man protecting the Canucks' net looked quite dissimilar to the man who led Canada to an Olympic Gold medal just over a week ago in Vancouver. The Canucks' captain started his week off with a decent outing in Detroit stopping 28 of 31 shots in a 6-3 win but proceeded to have arguably his worst outing since Game 6 of last season's Western Conference Semi-Final on Wednesday in Chicago. Luongo was yanked after giving up five goals on just 14 shots to the Blackhawks in the first period - the third time in his last nine games that he has been taken out of a game for performance reasons. Discounting his performance at the Olympic Winter Games, Luongo has not managed to record wins in consecutive starts since a six-game win streak from January 16 to January 27. He has a chance to bump that slump this upcoming week after ending last week off on a high note making 33 saves on 35 shots in a come-from-behind 4-2 win over the Predators on Sunday afternoon.
  6. So justice was meted out by Colin Campbell and the NHL tonight regarding Alex Burrows' comments pertaining to the officiating in Monday night's loss to the Nashville Predators. Burrows, for speaking his mind and accusing referee Stephane Auger of having a grudge against him, was fined $2,500 for doing so. According to Darren Dreger and Greg Wyshynski over at Puck Daddy, Auger is receiving no punishment and the matter is closed. Understandably, this has folks in Canuckland seething. The fact that Burrows would be punished for his transgressions while Stephane Auger would get off scot-free doesn't make sense. Unfortunately, there are very strict rules that pertain to criticizing NHL officials and Burrows, no matter how justified he was in making his comments, was breaking those rules. That Burrows was going to be taking a hit in the wallet should be of no surprise to anyone. What remained up in the air today was how severe Burrows punishment was going to be. As Wyshynski points out, league disciplinarian Colin Campbell could have dealt out far harsher punishment. One can't help but draw comparisons to Jeremy Roenick's on ice tirade from 2004, which came after on-ice officials completely missed a high sticking call that resulted in blood being drawn against good 'ol JR. After some rather enthusiastic protestations, Roenick was ejected from the game, which only further infuriated him, as he lobbed a water bottle in the direction of the referee and then spoke his mind afterwards. Incidentally, both the Burrows and Roenick incidents received widespread media coverage (gaining the attention of hockey-indifferent ESPN down in the United States) and both occurred at roughly the same point of the season. The result? A $10,000 fine and a 1 game suspension. This, after an official's negligence resulted in a player losing a tooth and requiring stitches and no penalty being assessed against the offending team. Burrows' $2,500 fine and being able to continue to play look rather tame in comparison and you can't help but wonder why. For all intents and purposes, it looks as though Burrows was only being punished because he had to be punished. The lack of a suspension or a more expensive fine, either to Burrows or to the Canucks organization speaks to that. This, of course, can be seen as Burrows post-game comments being granted validity by the NHL, that he may even be right that Stephane Auger had a score to settle with him. It follows, then, that if Burrows was telling the truth about what happened in Monday's game, why hasn't Auger been punished? Surely if the NHL is letting Burrows off easily with a minimal punishment following his rather serious allegations, they would be quick to punish an official who wasn't doing his job. Thus, the lack of punishment is a head scratcher. That is, until you realize that the NHL prefers to do everything behind closed doors. Players aren't supposed to comment about refs (hence Burrows' fine) and the refs aren't made available to the media after games (like the players are.) They're well protected and any sort of discipline pertaining to them is only whispered about, being about as elusive as a date with Megan Fox. It's hinted that playoff officiating can be used to reward or punish referees, although nothing concrete has been proven regarding that claim. I personally don't agree with the way the NHL handles things, and think the League would be better off if they made things more transparent in how they handle things like this and other questionable referee calls. Instead of protecting their officials, they should be making them accountable for their decisions on the ice. If a referee like Stephane Auger, who, according to Iain MacIntyre of the Vancouver Sun, 'has a reputation for inconsistency and arrogance' and who 'amongst peers is not especially popular' was thinking about visiting retribution down upon Burrows had to face the music in the form of angry reporters or from a public disciplinary hearing, chances are he wouldn't have gone over to Burrows and said anything and this whole ugly matter wouldn't have happened. It may have also prevented some previous incidents from occuring, such as his involvement with Shane Doan from a few years ago or the 'intent to whistle' no-goal call against Detroit earlier this season. Instead, Auger gets protected by the league and controversial incidents involving him continue to happen. Much has been said about how Alex Burrows and the Vancouver Canucks shouldn't expect much sympathy from the officials now as they will be under a microscope for the immediate future. Stephane Auger should expect to be placed under the same scrutiny, though, scrutiny which I would argue should and would exist if the NHL was more transparent in how it dealt with their referees. It shouldn't have to come about as a result of a player speaking his mind and getting fined for it, it should already be there. It may also help in other instances. Recall that NHL referee Dean Warren was fired for 'phantom calls' in two NHL playoff games two years after they had occurred. The resulting wrongful dismissal suit that Warren fired (he alleges that he was fired due to his activity with the NHL Officials Association and not due to subpar performance) has been in the Ontario courts for a while now and some embarrassing e-mails from Colin Campbell have come to light as a result. Had Warren truly been someone who, as ex-NHLOA director Stephen Walkom put it, 'cheapens the profession' dealing with him in a public manner would have saved the resulting legal battle and helped to keep other officials on their best behavior. One of Campbell's e-mails about another official has him saying "We look absolutely stupid when we call mysterious hooks as there were in this game." It'd be great to know if he shared this same sentiment about Stephane Auger and the calls he made Monday night against Vancouver. Sadly, given the NHL's closed door policy, we can only speculate on Stephane Auger's ultimate fate.
  7. People of Fanzone: After a week-long negotiation with CDC, Number Crunching is officially being put on hiatus until post-Olympics after this final blog (our settlement, unlike Conan's, was only worth 32 cents and a Churro). When it returns, Jay Leno will be taking over as your new Number Crunching blogger. Okay, so I kid...but Number Crunching is going on an Olympic break after this blog but before we go dark, we review the best and unusual statistics from the week that was in Canucks hockey in this record-breaking edition and as always, we have this week's Number Crunching Player of the Week Award to dole out. STREAKING INTO THE RECORD BOOKS <img src= class="imageFloatLeftFramed">There are certain individuals in the media (whose names shall remain anonymous) who will have you believe that Alex Burrows is no more than your typical agitator or pest. But Number Crunching challenges all the uninformed members of the fourth estate to show us when the last time the likes of Steve Ott or Sean Avery or Daniel Carcillo had a point streak of ten-or-more games at the NHL level as Burrows managed to achieve this past week on Thursday with a goal against the Dallas Stars (he since extended it to 11 games on Saturday with three assists versus the Blackhawks). In the process, Burrows became the first Canuck in just under two weeks (okay, so it would have been more impressive if we said nearly seven years but Henrik Sedin beat him to the punch) to record a double digit streak. Burrows also joined a rare list of only 13 all-time Canucks (including himself) to have recorded a point streak of 10-or-more games. Below is a list of the players that have achieved that mark in Canuck franchise history: Petr Nedved: once - 15 games* (15-9-24) Todd Bertuzzi: twice - longest 15 games* (7-12-19) Darcy Rota: once - 14 games (15-15-30) Stan Smyl: twice - longest 13 games (8-19-27) Pavel Bure: four times - longest 13 games (12-10-22) Thomas Gradin: once - 12 games (10-16-26) Anatoli Semenov: once - 12 games (1-16-17) Alex Burrows: once - 11 games** (13-5-18) Tony Tanti: once - 11 games (13-10-23) Dennis Kearns: once - 11 games (1-19-20) Alex Mogilny: twice - longest 11 games (9-8-17) Jiri Bubla: once - 11 games (1-11-12) Henrik Sedin: once - 10 games (5-15-20) *denotes franchise record **denotes currently active streak Burrows' current 11-game point streak is now tied for 12th place on the all-time franchise list for longest point streak. Excluding games played on Sunday, it is also tied for the third longest point streak this season behind only Anaheim's Corey Perry (19 games) and Buffalo's Tim Connolly (15 games) and is the second longest active point streak behind Connolly's aforementioned 15-game streak. PLAYING KEEP AWAY <img src= class="imageFloatRightFramed">Canucks fans who bore witness to the Marc Crawford era in Vancouver know that Crow is a coach who likes to employ a wide-open style of hockey which can lend itself to more error-prone play at times. It probably surprised many on Thursday then when Crow's Stars battled the Canucks in a game that featured more goals than turnovers between the two teams combined. In fact, according to the statisticians at GM Place, the Stars gave the puck away just once in the course of the 60-minute contest marking a season-low by a Canucks opponent. The previous low was two giveaways, a feat accomplished four previous times by a Canucks opponent most recently by the Flames on January 9th. What may be most surprising is the fact that the combined four giveaways in that game between the Canucks and Stars (which is a far cry from the 39 giveaways the Canucks and Oilers combined for just the night before) is not the fewest in a game involving the Canucks this season. That honour belongs to Vancouver's October 7th tilt with the Montreal Canadiens at GM Place when the two teams combined to give the puck away just three times (once by the Canucks, twice by the Habs). So how do the Canucks fare in games where puck possession is taken far too seriously? Vancouver has a record of 6-2-2 in games that feature ten-or-fewer giveaways by both teams combined. #1 GOING ON 40 <img src= class="imageFloatLeftFramed">Roberto Luongo often suggests that he tends to play better the more work he's subjected to so perhaps the Chicago Blackhawks employed the wrong strategy on Saturday night when they pelted the Canucks' captain with 44 shots only to watch him turn aside a personal season-high 43 of them. It was the first time since April 7th of last year that Luongo had been called on to make more than 40 saves in a single game and as far as it being his busiest night save-wise in a Canuck uniform, it ranked only in a tie for fourth place for most saves he has made in a single regular season game since becoming a Canuck. Since becoming a Canuck, Luongo has posted a record of 4-1-3 in games where he has been called on to make 40-or-more saves. Below is a list of Roberto's 40-plus regular season save nights since becoming a Canuck: 49 saves - February 21.08 - 3-2 SO win at Nashville 47 saves - January 17.08 - 2-3 SO loss at Detroit 46 saves - April 07.09 - 4-1 win vs. Calgary 43 saves - January 23.10 - 5-1 win vs. Chicago 43 saves - March 13.08 - 0-2 loss at Phoenix 40 saves - February 01.08 - 3-4 SO loss at Florida 40 saves - January 26.07 - 2-3 SO loss vs. Los Angeles 40 saves - December 02.06 - 2-1 win vs. Colorado Luongo was just two saves shy on Saturday of tying a season-high in saves by a Canucks netminder. That mark still belongs to Cory Schneider who made 45 saves in a 2-1 loss to the Dallas Stars back on November 6th. THE 400-CLUB <img src= class="imageFloatRightFramed">Henrik Sedin opened the week with a three-assist effort against the Oilers on Wednesday but none of his three helpers were more important than the last because not only did that one set up the overtime winner by brother Daniel but it marked the 400th assist in his Canucks and NHL career. As far as franchise records go, assist No. 400 put him into a very exclusive club that previously consisted of only three other members: Trevor Linden, Stan Smyl and Markus Naslund. With 402 career assists and counting, it seems only a formality before Henrik takes his place as the Assists King in Canucks franchise history. He is just 13 helpers away from tying Trevor Linden atop the leaderboard with 415 assists as a Canuck. Stan Smyl and Markus Naslund sit second and third place on the franchise list with 411 and 410 assists, respectively. NUMBER CRUNCHING PLAYER OF THE WEEK Henrik Sedin: Two goals and seven points in three games played <img src= class="imageFloatLeftFramed">We could easily have gone with co-winners along with brother Daniel or perhaps even named that entire top line with Alex Burrows all as Players of the Week but we give Henrik the sole honour for this week after he notched his 23rd goal of the season on Saturday night and in the process set a new career-high for goals in a single season. Henrik's previous career-high was set last season when he tallied 22 goals and it did take him all 82 games to hit that mark as his last tally of the year came in overtime of the final regular season game of the season. Henrik's 22nd and 23rd goals, respectively, this season came in Game 51. Last year after 51 games, Henrik had eight goals. Henrik will begin the new week with a four point advantage on Washington's Alex Ovechkin atop the NHL leader board and should reach another major milestone later this coming week barring the unforeseen. Henrik is expected to suit up in his 700th career NHL game on Saturday in Toronto - ironically, the same city that he and his brother were rumoured to be headed to during this past off-season when the two were unrestricted free agents. Talk about a close call. CRUNCHED BY THE NUMBERS Nolan Baumgartner: 29 games <img src= class="imageFloatRightFramed">It's important to point out that we aren't picking on the man they call 'Bomber' for no apparent reason. After all in his lone game played during the week he finished with a very solid plus-one rating in 15:18 of ice-time against the Blackhawks. But for those who haven't figured what the significance of what the aforementioned 29 games is - that is the number of man-games lost combined between Vancouver's top six blue-liners this season. That number is actually higher for those who wish to include Mathieu Schneider's injured games at the start of the season though for our purposes, our top-six consists of Kevin Bieksa, Alex Edler, Willie Mitchell, Sami Salo, Christian Ehrhoff and Shane O'Brien. This season, Ehrhoff and O'Brien are the only Canuck defencemen who have yet to miss a game due to injury (knock on wood). Baumgartner, who became a bit of a poster-boy this week for Vancouver's injury woes on the back end this season, became the 11th different defenceman to suit up for the Canucks this season - two more blue-liners than the Canucks had to employ all of last season. This is officially Baumgartner's third stint with the Canucks although it may not seem that way for many since Bomber has been around the Canucks since 2002.03. He was briefly claimed off waivers by the Penguins in 2003.04 before returning to Vancouver via waivers later that season. Prior to Saturday, he last played for the Canucks in 2005.06 when he appeared in a career-high 70 games and actually led all Canucks defencemen in points with 34 (5-29-34). In 2006.07, he signed as a free agent with the Philadelphia Flyers but played just six games with them before being dispatched to the minors. He was claimed off re-entry waivers later that season by the Dallas Stars then spent the following season in Iowa with the Stars' farm club. He signed as a free agent with the Canucks in the summer of 2008 and spent all of last season in Manitoba. Well folks, that brings this week's blog to a conclusion. While we don't have the resources to end it off with a big celebrity guest or a big musical number, if we did you can imagine it would look a little something like this: <iframe width="480" height="289" frameborder="0" src=""></iframe> Thanks for reading. See you after the Olympics. Enjoy the Games.
  8. <img src="" class="imageFloatLeftFramed"> <p>When you look at Burrows numbers there's no denying that he's been a huge success because of the Sedins. One can't argue though that he's not been partially responsible in helping get up the Sedins numbers to point per game averages that are the highest of their career. Burrows has been through a lot to get where he is and after working his way up through the Canucks system right from the ECHL I can guarantee you he never saw him self leading any NHL team in goals at any point in the season outside of perhaps game one of the season. Yet here we sit over 40 games into the season and the Canucks leading scorer is a tie between Henrik Sedin and none other than Alex Burrows. </p> <br /> <p>To put things into further perspective Burrows not only leads the Canucks in goals this season, but he's in the top 10 goal scorers in the NHL. That's right. Little Alex Burrows the super pest turned super hero to Canucks fans in Vancouver is tied for the 8th most goals in the NHL. With that in mind, when you look at the fact that Mats Sundin was operating at about 1 goal for every million dollars paid, when you look at Alex's contract, he's scored so far, one goal for every $100,000 he's been paid. With that said, that serves to go down as we still have over 30 games to play and you know Burrows is going to tear past that 30 goal plateau this season (knock on wood).</p> <br /> <p>If you number a crunch a little you find out Burrows actual worth. Right now, over the 48 games the Canucks have played this season, Burrows is costing the Canucks $95,328 per goal and about $51,282 per point. When you compare it to all the players in the top ten for goals scored this season it looks like this:</p> <br /> <table width="100%" border="1" cellpadding="4" cellspacing="0" bordercolor="#666666"> <thead> <tr> <th bgcolor="#E6EEEE">Player</th> <th bgcolor="#E6EEEE">Goals</th> <th bgcolor="#E6EEEE">Points</th> <th bgcolor="#E6EEEE">Salary</th> <th bgcolor="#E6EEEE">Cost/Goal</th> <th bgcolor="#E6EEEE">Cost/Point</th> </tr> </thead> <tbody> <tr> <td>Patrick Marleau</td> <td>32</td> <td>51</td> <td>$6,300,000.00</td> <td>$196,875.00</td> <td>$123,529.41</td> </tr> <tr> <td bgcolor="#F0F0F6">Alex Ovechkin</td> <td bgcolor="#F0F0F6">30</td> <td bgcolor="#F0F0F6">64</td> <td bgcolor="#F0F0F6">$9,538,462.00</td> <td bgcolor="#F0F0F6">$317,948.73</td> <td bgcolor="#F0F0F6">$149,038.47</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Sidney Crosby</td> <td>30</td> <td>57</td> <td>$8,700,000.00</td> <td>$290,000.00</td> <td>$152,631.58</td> </tr> <tr> <td bgcolor="#F0F0F6">Marian Gaborik</td> <td bgcolor="#F0F0F6">29</td> <td bgcolor="#F0F0F6">57</td> <td bgcolor="#F0F0F6">$7,500,000.00</td> <td bgcolor="#F0F0F6">$258,620.69</td> <td bgcolor="#F0F0F6">$131,578.95</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Ilya Kovalchuk</td> <td>28</td> <td>53</td> <td>$6,400,000.00</td> <td>$228,571.43</td> <td>$120,754.72</td> </tr> <tr> <td bgcolor="#F0F0F6">Dany Heatley</td> <td bgcolor="#F0F0F6">27</td> <td bgcolor="#F0F0F6">53</td> <td bgcolor="#F0F0F6">$7,500,000.00</td> <td bgcolor="#F0F0F6">$277,777.78</td> <td bgcolor="#F0F0F6">$141,509.43</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Steven Stamkos</td> <td>25</td> <td>47</td> <td>$3,725,000.00</td> <td>$149,000.00</td> <td>$79,255.32</td> </tr> <tr> <td bgcolor="#F0F0F6">Michael Cammalleri</td> <td bgcolor="#F0F0F6">22</td> <td bgcolor="#F0F0F6">40</td> <td bgcolor="#F0F0F6">$6,000,000.00</td> <td bgcolor="#F0F0F6">$272,727.27</td> <td bgcolor="#F0F0F6">$150,000.00</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Henrik Sedin</td> <td>21</td> <td>67</td> <td>$6,000,000.00</td> <td>$285,714.29</td> <td>$89,552.24</td> </tr> <tr> <td bgcolor="#F0F0F6">Rick Nash</td> <td bgcolor="#F0F0F6">21</td> <td bgcolor="#F0F0F6">44</td> <td bgcolor="#F0F0F6">$5,400,000.00</td> <td bgcolor="#F0F0F6">$257,142.86</td> <td bgcolor="#F0F0F6">$122,727.27</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Jarome Iginla</td> <td>21</td> <td>43</td> <td>$7,000,000.00</td> <td>$333,333.33</td> <td>$162,790.70</td> </tr> <tr> <td bgcolor="#F0F0F6">Dustin Penner</td> <td bgcolor="#F0F0F6">21</td> <td bgcolor="#F0F0F6">41</td> <td bgcolor="#F0F0F6">$4,250,000.00</td> <td bgcolor="#F0F0F6">$202,380.95</td> <td bgcolor="#F0F0F6">$103,658.54</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Alexandre Burrows</td> <td>21</td> <td>39</td> <td>$2,000,000.00</td> <td>$95,238.10</td> <td>$51,282.05</td> </tr> <tr> <td bgcolor="#F0F0F6">Bobby Ryan</td> <td bgcolor="#F0F0F6">21</td> <td bgcolor="#F0F0F6">39</td> <td bgcolor="#F0F0F6">$1,921,667.00</td> <td bgcolor="#F0F0F6">$91,507.95</td> <td bgcolor="#F0F0F6">$49,273.51</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Patrick Kane</td> <td>20</td> <td>56</td> <td>$3,725,000.00</td> <td>$186,250.00</td> <td>$66,517.86</td> </tr> <tr> <td bgcolor="#F0F0F6">Zach Parise</td> <td bgcolor="#F0F0F6">20</td> <td bgcolor="#F0F0F6">47</td> <td bgcolor="#F0F0F6">$3,125,000.00</td> <td bgcolor="#F0F0F6">$156,250.00</td> <td bgcolor="#F0F0F6">$66,489.36</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Alexander Semin</td> <td>20</td> <td>43</td> <td>$4,600,000.00</td> <td>$230,000.00</td> <td>$106,976.74</td> </tr> <tr> <td bgcolor="#F0F0F6">Nicklas Backstrom</td> <td bgcolor="#F0F0F6">19</td> <td bgcolor="#F0F0F6">54</td> <td bgcolor="#F0F0F6">$2,400,000.00</td> <td bgcolor="#F0F0F6">$126,315.79</td> <td bgcolor="#F0F0F6">$44,444.44</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Corey Perry</td> <td>19</td> <td>47</td> <td>$5,325,000.00</td> <td>$280,263.16</td> <td>$113,297.87</td> </tr> <tr> <td bgcolor="#F0F0F6">Anze Kopitar</td> <td bgcolor="#F0F0F6">19</td> <td bgcolor="#F0F0F6">46</td> <td bgcolor="#F0F0F6">$6,800,000.00</td> <td bgcolor="#F0F0F6">$357,894.74</td> <td bgcolor="#F0F0F6">$147,826.09</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Loui Eriksson</td> <td>19</td> <td>45</td> <td>$1,600,000.00</td> <td>$84,210.53</td> <td>$35,555.56</td> </tr> <tr> <td bgcolor="#F0F0F6">Stephen Weiss</td> <td bgcolor="#F0F0F6">19</td> <td bgcolor="#F0F0F6">42</td> <td bgcolor="#F0F0F6">$3,100,000.00</td> <td bgcolor="#F0F0F6">$163,157.89</td> <td bgcolor="#F0F0F6">$73,809.52</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Mike Richards</td> <td>19</td> <td>40</td> <td>$5,750,000.00</td> <td>$302,631.58</td> <td>$143,750.00</td> </tr> <tr> <td bgcolor="#F0F0F6">Ryan Malone</td> <td bgcolor="#F0F0F6">19</td> <td bgcolor="#F0F0F6">38</td> <td bgcolor="#F0F0F6">$4,500,000.00</td> <td bgcolor="#F0F0F6">$236,842.11</td> <td bgcolor="#F0F0F6">$118,421.05</td> </tr> <tr> <td>James Neal</td> <td>19</td> <td>35</td> <td>$821,667.00</td> <td>$43,245.63</td> <td>$23,476.20</td> </tr> <tr> <td bgcolor="#F0F0F6">Patric Hornqvist</td> <td bgcolor="#F0F0F6">19</td> <td bgcolor="#F0F0F6">30</td> <td bgcolor="#F0F0F6">$620,000.00</td> <td bgcolor="#F0F0F6">$32,631.58</td> <td bgcolor="#F0F0F6">$20,666.67</td> </tr> </tbody> </table> <br /> <p> Burrows is producing well above his pay grade and am I complaining? Hell no. Just trying to make sure more people appreciate just what this guy is doing when compared to the names he's sandwiched himself between in the points standings.</p> <br /> <p><img src="" class="imageFloatLeftFramed">Richard Loat writes for Canucks Hockey Blog and is a fan of the underdog – first Bryan Allen, then Alex Burrows, and now Jannik Hansen. His passion for the Canucks led to the Canucks Hockey Blog and a lot of #Canucks tweets on his Twitter account.</p>
  9. I think everyone's a little tired of the Stephane Auger-Alex Burrows incident. What had been said to Auger behind closed doors won't be revealed, but it'll probably be along the lines of, "well, you know, just keep your mouth shut before the game and watch who you talk to." The NHL was in a bit of a pickle here because they can't pick sides - whatever side they choose, it sends the message that the NHL acknowledges that they have refs who cannot stay impartial during a game but are really refusing to do anything substantial about it. That's not mentioning that the NHL Officials Association will be very unhappy if the NHL takes Burrows' side. I think by creating less of the situation the NHL really has avoided what could've been a big controversy - Burrows has a history and as does Auger. What really irks me though, is that some people are still willing to dig into Burrows. More specifically, Ron MacLean's telecast last night (part 1 and 2) against the Penguins. I agree with Alain Vigneault's post-game conference that MacLean (a referee by training but also ironically been one of the most critical observers of the lack of consistency in NHL-level refereeing in recent years) took some unfair potshots at Burrows. Colin Campbell joined MacLean in the telecast and a few of his answers also really shed light on the current situation in the NHL's discipline office. No one other than Burrows and Auger knew what happened on the ice in that January 11 game, but to me, I think MacLean delves into one assumption too many in his analysis (part 1, 1:50-2:15). He claims that Burrows embellished the hit (I think he did too) but stayed on the ice (or "played dead," in Ron's words) even when the Canucks trainers came onto the ice and stayed there long enough to ensure that Jerred Smithson got five and a game misconduct. The NHL made the right move and rescinded that game misconduct after Nashville GM David Poile filed a complaint, but here's where it gets confusing. Colin Campbell specifically says that it could've been a "two-minute penalty, no problem" (part 1, 3:05) and rescinded the misconduct also in part because that "two or three" (part 1, 2:38) could mean a future automatic one-game suspension. Okay, let me get this straight: Smithson's hit on Burrows could've been two minutes or fifteen minutes or one, two, maybe three-game suspensions? To me, while I don't think it is the most relevant factor, shows the inconsistent refereeing from top to bottom. The NHL doesn't really have a set standard for anything. Case in point, Campbell notes that Burrows was not suspended for his punch on Zack Stortini because he felt that it was unfair to Mike Gillis and the Canucks to not give them more warning (part 2, 0:27-0:45). Thanks for your sympathy Colin, but the NHL office would look more credible if they made sure there was a set standard for fines and suspensions. Forget about putting the opposition team in a pickle - it's their problem, not yours. I can hear Gary Bettman singing the same tune last year, "well, I just didn't think it'd be fair to the Flames to ice less than 18 skaters due to their own cap managing failures because I'm such a gosh-darn nice guy. By the way, can my forehead by any shinier?" MacLean doesn't help his own cause any further when he refuses to believe any part of Burrows' story: "I can't imagine he said, 'I'll get you.' I think we can all agree on that" (part 1, 4:40). No, Ron, I don't agree. At this point I think that whole "what he said" thing is circumstantial and there is a clear lack of hard evidence to prove either side's story. MacLean's a referee and I think even he would be hard-pressed to say that Burrows' interference penalty late in the third against the Predators was absolute junk. Burrows is an intelligent hockey player and he plays with a lot of emotion so I can't really see that something he said out of frustration and anger was completely false. Let's not delve into too much psychoanalysis, but to Burrows, it was more than just about "me vs. him." In his post-game he repeatedly said that it wasn't fair to the fans or the team. Taking a page from MacLean's Book of Poor Assumptions, I'm going to assume that Auger clearly saw this as a "me vs. him" incident. He was clearly upset that Burrows had make him look awful back in December - Auger even said so himself according to Campbell (part 1, 5:33). There haven't been any reports denying that. Auger refused to comment after the game and still hasn't said anything since. But never mind the whole incident, who was wrong or who was right, MacLean was more "upset that he [burrows] said it, that he implied that your referee, Auger, that night was out to get him and he actually might've influenced the outcome of the hockey game and the coach corroborates with the accusation" (part 2 3:11-3:23). From the get-go, it was clear that MacLean didn't have much respect for Burrows and is obviously engaging in some one-sided politics here. For me, the bigger issue is that a NHL player who has been in this league for some time is calling out a ref for some awful calls by insinuating that he was targeted but yet the league hasn't done anything but dish out a measly $2,500 fine and a good ol' talking to with Auger. I'm not MacLean-level outraged with the situation but I'm not particularly happy with it either. With the type of punishments being handed out these days, this is about as fair as they come. Auger won't be reffing another Canucks game for quite some time so the NHL seems to think they have little to worry about. In the end, I don't think MacLean's telecast with Campbell really solved anything. We only re-discovered what we knew already: that Burrows is a diver, Ron is not a fan, and that Burrows' criticism of the officials seems to be more important than the fact that the NHL may have a problem with biased referees. Sorry, Mr. Auger, but I couldn't help myself. <img src=""class="imageFloatRightFramed"><img src=""class="imageFloatLeftFramed">
  10. 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= 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= 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= 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= 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= 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= 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)
  11. A bizarre subplot emerged from the Canucks' <a href="">3-2 loss to Nashville</a> tonight, with <b>Alex Burrows</b> <a href=">claiming</a> [<b><a href=">Jason Botchford</a></b>, <i>The Province</i>] referee <b>Stephane Auger</b> has a personal vendetta against him. Burrows scored both of the Canucks' goals, but was called for 16 minutes in penalties and was in the box when Nashville's winning goal was scored. At least two of the penalties were certainly debatable. According to Botchford, Burrows said Auger told him in advance that he was in trouble. Burrows said Auger referred to the Canucks' 4-2 loss to Nashville on Dec. 8, where Auger gave Jerred Smithson a game misconduct for charging Burrows. Here's the key quotes from Botchford's piece: <i>"It started in warm-up," Burrows said. "Before the anthem, the ref came over and said I made him look bad in Nashville on the Smithson hit and he was going to get me back tonight. "When Smithson hit me sideways he said 'I saw the replay you had your head up and weren't really hurt and you made me look bad and I'm going to get you tonight and it cost us two points.'" "He got me on a diving call that I didn't think was diving and an interference call. I had no idea how he could call that. It changed the game. Right now, for our teammates are battling hard to win. Because of a guy's ego, it just blows everything out of proportion and the refs are making bad calls and we're paying for it." "He comes into the game and he's going to make a call to give Nashville the advantage and I don't think that's fair for my teammates and for the fans."</i> (I have a brief video of Burrows talking to Auger in the warmup posted in my original entry at Thanks to <b><a href="">Matt Lee</b></a> for the link.) This is fascinating. Obviously, the league's going to take a look at this, and I'd guess that they'd at least find and probably suspend Burrows for making those kinds of comments about one of their officials. The question remains: what if he's telling the truth, though? Officiating in the NHL is often questioned, but there haven't really been many legitimate suggestions of particular grudges or suspicious behaviour from referees. That hasn't been the case in all sports, though. Both <a href="">basketball</a> and <a href=,,4912571,00.html">soccer</a> have recently gone through massive scandals involving referees fixing games. There's no suggestion that Auger was out to swing this game for betting reins, but Auger's actions did swing the game; Nashville scored the winning goal with Burrows in the box. Auger's call on that play remains up for debate. There are three main scenarios that could have happened. The first is that Auger made the right call, in which case Burrows is spouting off for no good reason. The second is that Auger made a bad call, but he made it with the right intentions (i.e. he didn't have any specific motivation to get Burrows). The third is that events unfolded as described by Burrows, where that call was strictly made because of a grudge against him. The problem is that it will be difficult to figure out exactly which scenario happened. NHL referee supervisors can differentiate between scenario one and the other two by analyzing the tape and comparing it to their rulebooks and referee manuals, but we currently don't have any way to determine motivations accurately (unless <b>Mr. Spock</b> or <b>Counselor Troi</b> want to drop in). Video does suggest that one of the refs talked to Burrows in the warmup, but it will be difficult to figure out exactly what was said; I'm sure if events unfolded as Burrows described, Auger wouldn't exactly say that loudly enough to be overheard by anyone else. The NHL certainly should investigate this, though, and they shouldn't just flip it off with a "we stand by our refs." That can be the public statement, but they need to go deeper in private, interviewing Auger, the rest of his crew and Burrows in detail. They need to approach them skeptically, rather than from a position of faith, and perhaps even resort to lie-detector tests (this won't happen, but it would be one way to sort it out reliably). For the good of the game, fans, players and teams need to have faith that referees are approaching all situations fairly. If Auger did this, I can empathize with him; I worked as a softball umpire for several years and know just how difficult officiating can be. There's certainly motivation to "get" certain teams or players when they treat you poorly. To my knowledge, I always resisted doing so consciously, but that doesn't mean I didn't feel tempted. I'm sure there are certain refs who dislike certain players and have that influence their calls, either subconsciously or consciously (Tim Donaghy makes many claims to that effect in his <a href="">book</a>). Whether Auger falls into this category or not is still uncertain, though, and if he does, telling the player that he was out to get him would be incredibly stupid. What does this mean for the Canucks? Well, if Burrows' allegations are true, they probably lost at least one point and possibly two tonight, which could be important in the case of a tight playoff or division race. However, regardless of the truth of the allegations, Burrows' behaviour in taking them to the press could hurt the team even more. He's been one of the league's best players recently, and was <a href="">named</a> the NHL's first star for last week. He's been touted as a hot fantasy pickup by several esteemed writers, including the Fanball Network's <b><a href=">Ray Flowers</a></b> in his <i>Sports Illustrated</i> <a href="">piece</a> today. If Burrows is hit with any sort of suspension, that could hit the Canucks dramatically. We'll see what comes out of this. However, I'm sure it's far from over. Burrows may have fought the law, but in the end, the law usually tends to win.
  12. In the Canucks locker room, they ought to be calling Alex Burrows "The Joker" after all the tricks he played last week. But here on Number Crunching, we're not joking around when we dedicate this week's blog to the hat trick hero himself. Read on to find out who takes home this week's coveted Number Crunching Player of the Week Award (as if you didn't already know). TWO IS AS GOOD AS THREE... <img src= class="imageFloatLeftFramed">If you asked Alex Burrows, he'd tell you good things come in threes - except when they happen twice, then two is just as good as three. Three was certainly the magic number for Burrows this week after a pair of hat tricks in back-to-back games gave him a total of three career hat-tricks at the NHL level and made him just the third Canuck all-time to score hat tricks in back-to-back games joining Bobby Schmautz and Petri Skriko. He is also the first NHL player to accomplish that feat since Atlanta's Ilya Kovalchuk scored back-to-back hat tricks on November 1st and 3rd, 2007 against the Senators and Lightning, respectively. (Special thanks to the Canucks Media Relations Department for these tidbits). Burrows also became the first Canuck to record multiple hat tricks in a single season since Todd Bertuzzi back in 2005.06 (Big Bert notched a hat trick on Detroit's Manny Legace on November 13th and another against the Islanders' tandem of Rick DiPietro and Wade Dubielewicz on January 14th). Burrows still has a ways to go if he'd like to catch up to the all-time team record for most hat tricks in a single season. That belongs to Petri Skriko who tallied four in the 1986.87 season. And here's the Numbers part of this week's blog...what do you get when you add three plus two? in five times in team history that the Canucks have had hat tricks in back-to-back games: 1972.73 November 17th: Bobby Schmautz vs. Los Angeles November 19th: Bobby Schmautz (4) vs. Buffalo 1975.76 November 8th: Ron Sedlbauer vs. Boston November 11th: John Gould vs. Toronto 1986.87 November 18th: Petri Skriko vs. Calgary November 21st: Petri Skriko (4) vs. NY Rangers 1995.96 March 6th: Russ Courtnall vs. Buffalo March 9th: Trevor Linden vs. Colorado 2009.10 January 5th: Alex Burrows vs. Columbus January 7th: Alex Burrows vs. Phoenix ...OH BUT WAIT THERE'S MORE... <img src= class="imageFloatRightFramed">In true Alex Burrows fashion, he was quick to praise the work of his teammates in helping his capture a piece of Canucks history so, of course, Number Crunching looks at the effect of Burrows' double hat trick and their significance as far as the Canucks record books are concerned. With his first hat trick of the week against the Blue Jackets, Burrows became the fourth different Canuck to net a hat trick this season marking the first time that four different Canucks have tallied hat tricks in a single season since 2000.01. That year, the Canucks got hat tricks from Andrew Cassels (Anaheim), Harold Druken (San Jose), Todd Bertuzzi (San Jose) and Markus Naslund (Calgary). It also marked the eighth time in team history that at least four different Canucks have had hat tricks in the same season. Vancouver's all-time record for most hat tricks by different players in a single season is five. That was set back in the 1995.96 season when Alex Mogilny led the way with a hat trick of hat tricks while Cliff Ronning, Russ Courtnall, Trevor Linden and Markus Naslund all chipped in with singles. ...AND WITH ONE HAND BEHIND MY BACK TOO! <img src= class="imageFloatLeftFramed">Style points count here at Number Crunching, so we're giving the nod to Burrows' first hat trick of the week as the more impressive one simply because one of the three tallies in that game came short-handed. For Burrows, it was the ninth short-handed goal of his Canucks and NHL career and moved him into sole possession of fifth place on the Canucks' all-time list of most short-handed goals - one ahead of Matt Cooke and two behind fourth-place Petri Skriko (there's that name again!). Burrows' short-handed tally was just the second of the season for the Canucks. Their first came back on November 5th in Minnesota courtesy of Henrik Sedin. The Canucks are 2-0-0 this season when scoring a short-handed goal. THE BIG FIVE-O <img src= class="imageFloatRightFramed">There's no truth to the rumour that Roberto Luongo was belting out the words to Bon Jovi's Livin' on a Prayer after his shutout performance over the Coyotes on Thursday - specifically the part that goes "ohhhh...we're halfway there" - but that's about roughly where he is now compared to the all-time shutout king Martin Brodeur after he picked up his 50th career goose egg this past week. Luongo became just the 24th all-time NHL netminder to hit the 50-shutout mark joining an exclusive list that includes the likes of the aforementioned Brodeur, Terry Sawchuk, Dominik Hasek and Patrick Roy. Luongo is now just the third active NHL netminder who has 50-plus NHL shutouts joining Brodeur and Chris Osgood (also 50 career shutouts), sitting one shutout ahead of San Jose's Evgeni Nabokov. MILESTONES <img src= class="imageFloatLeftFramed">Number Crunching congratulates the following players for reaching their respective milestones this week and we honour them by providing each player with a "best of" statistic: Willie Mitchell 100th career NHL assist vs. Coyotes on 01/07 Canucks record this season when Mitchell gets a point: 7-3-0 Mikael Samuelsson 100th career NHL goal vs. Coyotes on 01/07 Canucks record this season when Samuelsson scores: 10-2-2 Steve Bernier 300th career NHL game vs. Coyotes on 01/07 Canucks all-time record when Bernier scores: 13-6-2 (5-4-0 this season) Kyle Wellwood 300th career NHL game vs. Coyotes on 01/07 Canucks all-time record when Wellwood scores: 9-8-4 (2-1-1 this season) NUMBER CRUNCHING PLAYER OF THE WEEK <img src= class="imageFloatRightFramed">Alex Burrows: Six goals and seven points in three games What more can be said about Burrows that we haven't already covered? How about the fact that if he can manage to have as good a second half as he did last season, he could become the first Canuck not named Daniel Sedin to score 30 goals in a season for the Canucks since Markus Naslund (32) and Anson Carter (33) did back in 2005.06? Last season, Burrows didn't score his 17th goal of the season until March 3rd when he scored goals 17 and 18 of the season in a game against the Minnesota Wild. That game was Vancouver's 63rd game of the season. Burrows managed to score his 17th this season in game no. 44 - 19 games ahead of last year's pace. 18 of Burrows' 28 goals last season came after January 28th, or in other words, in the final 34 games of the regular season. As of this writing, the Canucks have 37 games left in the 2009.10 regular season. CRUNCHED BY THE NUMBERS <img src= class="imageFloatLeftFramed">Mason Raymond: One assist in three games Every player goes through their ups and downs throughout the course of the season so we aren't trying to be overly critical of the 24-year old Raymond who, by all accounts, has been having a fantastic season so far already having set new career-highs in every offensive category. However, Raymond's been uncharacteristically quiet over the last couple of weeks since his hat trick performance in Calgary back on December 27th. For the second straight week, all Raymond has to show for on the scoresheet has been a single assist. The lack of points stands out more than perhaps it normally would because his regular linemates haven't seen a slowdown in their production. Ryan Kesler managed four assists while Mikael Samuelsson had three goals this past week. It was a similar story the previous week when Kesler (1-2-3) and Samuelsson (2-1-3) both tallied three points each compared to just a single helper for Raymond. Raymond enters this week having not scored in his last six straight games - his longest goal drought of the season.
  13. Larenzo

    Move over, Petri

    Alex Burrows penned his name alongside a 23 year old Vancouver Canucks scoring record of back to back hat tricks, originally set by Petri Skriko in 1986/87. Two of the hottest players in the NHL celebrate Alex Burrows' 2nd straight hat trick performance (Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images) The Phoenix Coyotes got the short end of the straw Thursday night during their visit to the Garage, outplaying the Canucks for large stretches. But the rules of physics applied, and objects in motion tend to stay in motion, and the Canucks, winners of 12 of their last 14 games, did just that. Just as the Coyotes had a few fortuitous bounces in their previous game in the desert, so too did the Canucks. "My linemates (Henrik and Daniel Sedin) found me a couple of times there and made great plays and it makes my job a lot easier," said Alex Burrows post game. Coyotes captain Shane Doan spoke candidly about the pictured goal with 4 seconds remaining in the second stanza. "You can point the finger at me on that one," started Doan, who tried to pin Ryan Kesler along the end boards. "It's my fault and it totally turns the tide. We kind of controlled the second period, but I dropped the ball on that one... If I don't give up that second, then it's a totally different game." With 4 seconds remaining in the second period, Ryan Kesler took the audio cue from Mikael Samuelsson, dished him a backhand saucer for a pivotal 2-0 lead The match featured almost every hockey element possible, including a couple of scary, bloody moments for Canucks fans. Aaron Rome was blindsided by a (clean) Taylor Pyatt check near the boards, which lacerated the left side of his face, leaving him bleeding profusely. Late in the second period, Willie Mitchell's upward rising stick blade caught Sami Salo in the enclave area just underneath his left eyebrow, narrowly missing his eye. He too colored the ice red before hastily leaving the ice surface withtrainer Mike Bernstein. He would return, though, to a warm ovation from the 18,810 fans at GM Place to start the third period. Canucks fans breathed a collective sigh of relief upon learning this injury missed Salo's eye by a centimeter (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Darryl Dyck) Roberto Luongo, who earned his third shutout of the season, credited his d-men for clearing rebounds in front of him, and giving him a good look at the puck. "I've only got 50... Once I get done, maybe we'll talk about it more," deferred Luongo, who acknowledged his milestone, but inferred that he is well back of the 106 shutouts held by Olympic teammate, Martin Brodeur. Former Canuck Taylor Pyatt is stopped in close by Roberto Luongo (Photo by Rich Lam/ Getty Images)Henrik Sedin was also more interested in the strong team play than individual accolades. "Like I said before, that's what good teams do," said the current NHL points leader. "They put a lot of wins together. We need to keep going here." The win was good enough for 5th place in the Western Conference standings, though they are now tied with the Calgary Flames for 1st place in the Northwest division. Calgary holds a game in hand, so presently has sole possession of third place in the Conference, despite the Canucks having more wins (which is the first tie break if teams have played even amount of games). The Flames put the Northwest division lead on the line when they visit here on Saturday for one of the featured HNIC (Hockey Night in Canada) tilts. Queue R.Kelly's "I believe I can fly" during this exciting Mason Raymond penalty shot (AP Photo / Darryl Dyck) Special thanks to Pouya of CanucksHD for the following uploads of Burrows' goals (just move your cursor over the following and click) Alex Burrows' 2nd goal Alex Burrows' Hat trick goal Keep pace with the torrid Canucks at Larenzo Jensen, with files from TSN, Yahoo Sports, Getty Images and AP Photo
  14. <img src="" class="imageFloatLeftFramed">The no-goal For the second consecutive game, the Vancouver Canucks had referee Mike Leggo assigned to their game after refereeing the Washington Capitals game in which he called a questionable unsportsmanlike penalty to Tom Poti for making a diving hand gesture. Then he proceeded to call a penalty shot on the Canucks after Canucks defenceman hauled down Alexander Semin on a partial breakaway if you can even call it that. Tonight, Mike Leggo and the hockey operations department in Toronto made the call that Canucks forward Alex Burrows had kicked the puck into the net when replays showed that the puck was directed in my Burrows' skate before the kicking motion was made and then deflecting off the Blues defenceman Barret Jackman into the net. Kicking motion or not, should the goal have been allowed since it deflected off Jackman? If icing was called and it hits a player's leg at centre ice, the call is waived off. Right? So why not waive the kicking motion and allow the goal to stand? Jackman's Cheap Shot Alex Burrows took an extra whack at goalie Ty Conklin for a loose puck and received a nice knuckle sandwich from Blues defenceman Barret Jackman who had his glove off somehow. The punch is similar to the one that Dan Carcillo thrown at Matt Bradley in which Carcillo received a five minute major for fighting, two minutes for instigating, two minutes for crosschecking, a misconduct, and a game misconduct for a grand total of 19 penalty minutes and a four game suspension of the NHL. Bradley and Carcillo were about to engage in a fight, so Bradley probably should have expected a punch coming. In this case, Jackman had his gloves off for whatever reason and fired a punch to the face of an unsuspecting Burrows, resulting in a bloodied nose. Jackman received a minor roughing. The referees do not have the luxury of slow motion, video replays so they cannot be blamed for not giving the Canucks a nine minute power play as it appeared to be just any old hockey scrum with the face washing. Burrows has a reputation for embellishing calls in hopes of getting a penalty and it was something I thought he was doing. Colin Campbell and the National Hockey League hockey operations department have the luxury of replays, but unfortunately Barret Jackman is not Dan Carcillo and Alex Burrows is Alex Burrows. Do not expect anything more than a one game suspension, if anything at all. <img src="" class="imageFloatRightFramed" width="320" height="180">Bieksa Bieksa....Bieksa.... On the second goal, Blues forward David Backes walked around him and then Luongo to tuck the puck into the net. Bieksa had great position on Backes, yet somehow managed to let him walk around him.... Also worth pointing out that for the second consecutive game, Bieksa finished the game with less time than Shane O'Brien who struggled to get into the lineup earlier this month. Bieksa had just 16:02 of ice time while O'Brien had 17:02. On the season, Bieksa averages 22:14 a game, behind Willie Mitchell's 22:27. Looks like the chat with Alain Vigneault in which he broke his stick in frustration didn't do anything to change his game for the better. Ryan Johnson injured Heading into Sunday night's game, forward Ryan Johnson was questionable after blocking a shot and injuring himself on Friday night against the Washington Capitals. Johnson only saw 6:52 of ice time and the only time he was noticed on the ice was when Tanner Glass missed him with a drop pass and the Blues went back the other way to score. We will keep our eye on this story. Glass + Hit = Goal For the second consecutive game, rugged Canucks forward Tanner Glass delivered a bone crushing hit only to have the opposing team scored. On Friday, Brooks Laich was sent into the Canucks bench by Glass, only to have Alexander Semin score glove side on Roberto Luongo. Tonight, Glass flattened the diminutive Paul Kariya only to see Kariya's shot deflected in front of the goal by David Backes. Maybe Glass needs to pick his spots better, or Luongo gets distracted easily by big hits. Remember Game 5? <img src="" class="imageFloatLeftFramed">O'Brien's First in 166 Congratulations to Shane O'Brien on getting his first goal in 166 regular season games. Tonight, O'Brien was everything the Canucks had hoped he'd be. A physical stay-at-home defenceman who could put up the odd goal, make simple passes or plays out of the defensive zone, make smart pinches, and clear the crease. By the looks of his celebration, it seemed like he had scored the Game 7, Stanley Cup clinching goal in overtime. Fan Appreciation Night You may know, or you may not know. Tonight was the annual Fan Appreciation Night, hosted in the middle of the NHL season once again. Much like last year, it does not appear anybody was even aware it was Fan Appreciation Night as the stands were completely empty as players took their jerseys off their backs. After a bitter loss to the St. Louis Blues, who would stick around anyways? Still puzzled as to why they moved this from the last game of the season as it is perfectly fitting players take off their jerseys at the last home game and give it to the fans.
  15. Was Alex Burrows' goal good or not? It really depends on which team you're rooting for really because even as a die hard fan I thought the call would've gone either way, but because Mike Leggo originally signaled a no-goal, his original call stands. In the NHL rulebook, Section 5, 39.4 (iv), it clearly states that: "Puck directed or batted into the net by a hand or foot or deliberately batted with any part of the attacking player's body. With the use of a foot/skate, was a distinct kicking motion evident? If so, the apparent goal must be disallowed. A DISTINCT KICKING MOTION is one which, with a pendulum motion, the player propels the puck with his skate into the net. If the Video Goal Judge determines that it was put into the net by an attacking player using a distinct kicking motion, it must be ruled NO GOAL. This would also be true even if the puck, after being kicked, deflects off any other player of either team and then into the net. This is still NO GOAL." First, the fact that after the puck hit Burrows' skate and then Barret Jackman's skate and in doesn't matter because it doesn't really change the call either way. If Leggo believed Burrows kicked it, it's a no goal. If Leggo believed Burrows didn't kick it, it's still good. The distinct kicking motion, however, is what had Alain Vigneault livid at the bench. I think it's pretty clear that Burrows didn't kick the puck. The motion that Leggo saw was merely the puck hitting his skate with some force because Henrik Sedin wired it pretty hard and fast. I'm not sure if Burrows did attempt to kick it - if you watch the replay he saw Henrik and he must have known a pass was coming - but because the game is so fast what was a kicking motion AFTER the impact was deemed a kicking motion DURING the impact. Leggo clearly saw the latter and he didn't see any conclusive evidence that Burrows didn't attempt to kick it. Furthermore, I'm not so sure Burrows was entirely convinced he didn't kick it because he didn't really put up an argument. In a game which could've vaulted the Canucks into the top eight, the fans seemed more livid than the players themselves. I was obviously rooting for a goal and was disappointed it was waved off, but let's give Leggo the benefit of the doubt here - he had little time to react and make the call. However, in his twelve years of reffing I don't think I've ever been as frustrated as I was with his calls last night. There was too much inconsistency with the whistles and Jackman's bare-handed punch on Burrows should've been at least a double minor. Burrows was clearly spewing blood on the bench and had to go in the locker room to get patched up. <img src="" class="imageFloatLeftFramed"> Congratulations are in order for Shane O'Brien, who scored his first regular season goal in 165 games. He got a little ahead of himself and really jumped up on offense a couple times but for the most part he was the lone bright spot in what really was an average game for the Canucks. It was a game in which none of the bounces went the Canucks' way, particularly Steve Bernier's two-on-one shot that hit the knob of Ty Conklin's stick. Let's be fair, though. The Blues came out with more energy and determination and the Canucks didn't really make Conklin's job any harder. For the most part their shots were relatively weak and the passes weren't as sharp or crisp, giving Conklin time to move laterally quickly enough to cover the net. The Sedins couldn't really get their cycle game going and once again it was Tanner Glass and Steve Bernier that had some really good shifts. Mason Raymond was his usual speedy self, opening up the ice and making good use of whatever room he had. With the loss the Canucks are now 4-2 in their 8-game homestand and I noted earlier that they must win at least 6 before heading onto the road. They host the red-hot Preds (just on regulation loss in December) who are very well-coached by Barry Trotz and then the Oilers Saturday night. Two very winnable games but as always it'll come down to how hard the Canucks are willing to work for those points. The Canucks are more talented, deeper, and have the far superior goalie in net. There's no reason why they can't take those two games.
  16. <img src="" class="imageFloatLeftFramed" width="250" height="163">In the Canucks-Capitals game, defenceman Tom Poti simply gestured that he believed Burrows dived, was given an unsportsmanlike penalty on top of his crosschecking penalty on his hit-from-behind; a weak call no matter which team you are cheering for. In the ensuing power play, Mason Raymond cashed in with his second goal of the game and 14th goal of the season. On the bench, we saw Capitals head coach Bruce Boudreau clapping sarcastically on the bench and yelling "F***ing good job" to the referees. Moments later, Capitals forward Alexander Semin was sent in on a partial breakaway, only to be hauled down from the side by Canucks defenceman Kevin Bieksa. Semin was awarded a penalty shot by referee Mike Leggo, the same referee who called the unsportsmanlike penalty on Poti. A make-up call? Perhaps, since penalty shots are usually not rewarded unless the player has a clear path to the net before being hauled down from behind. On a different note, Vancouverite and Chinese-Canadian forward Brandon Yip was recalled by the Colorado Avalanche on Friday. The Avalanche have injuries to Milan Hejduk, Marek Svatos, and Chris Stewart and should make his NHL debut tomorrow night against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Yip, drafted in the 8th round in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft, would be only the second Chinese-Canadian to play in the NHL after Larry Kwong who played in one game with the New York Rangers against the Montreal Canadiens in 1948. He tallied no points. Other players who have Chinese ancestry in their blood that have played in the NHL are center Mike Wong, of Chinese and Native descent, who played in 22 games with the Detroit Red Wings in 1975. Goaltender Peter Ing, of Chinese and Jewish descent, played in 74 games over four NHL seasons with the Edmonton Oilers, Toronto Maple Leafs, and Detroit Red Wings. More recently, goaltender Chris Beckford-Tseu, of Chinese and Afro-Jamaican descent, played in one game on February 21, 2008 for the St. Louis Blues.
  17. A 5-3 loss in Carolina on Saturday left most of the Canucks Community shaking their heads. This week's Number Crunching will have you shaking your head a good way of course! Read on to find out who takes home this week's coveted Number Crunching Player of the Week Award. HITS AND MISSES <img src= class="imageFloatLeftFramed">Inspired by the (for the lack of a better word) creative stats tracking in Carolina, Number Crunching decided to look into just how frequently the Canucks get (literally) crunched on the road versus at home. Suffice to say, the 41 hits recorded by the Hurricanes marked a season-high by a Canucks opponent not only away from GM Place but overall this season. The previous high belonged to the Dallas Stars who were credited with 36 hits at the American Airlines Center back on November 6th. In fact, the top four highest hit totals by a Canucks opponent this season have all taken place away from GM Place. The highest hit total by a Canucks opponent at the Garage this season is 31 - which belonged to the Rangers back on November 3rd. Through 14 games at GM Place this season, Canucks opponents have averaged 17.2 hits per game against the Canucks while in 15 games away from GM Place, that number increases to 24.5 hits per game. So are the stats trackers as generous with the home team in hits this season? Not at all. Through 14 home games this season, the Canucks have averaged 15.9 hits per game while on the road, Vancouver's average hits per game is actually higher at 18.3 per game. POWER OUTAGE <img src= class="imageFloatRightFramed">Given the sorry state of the Canucks power play in recent games, they may be first in line to petition the NHL to allow teams to decline penalties. Not only have the Canucks gone without a power play goal in four straight games while having scored power play goals in just one of their last seven games (that being their rare 4-for-5 night against the Oilers on November 28th), their play with the man-advantage hit a new low this week in Philadelphia on Thursday after failing to connect on a 91-second 5-on-3 man-advantage. In fact, the Canucks have not scored a 5-on-3 goal since October 27th against the Detroit Red Wings. Since then, the Canucks have had a cumulative 3:18 of 5-on-3 play without managing to find the back of the net (0-for-5 overall). Perhaps it was a good thing the Canucks did not score on the 5-on-3 in Philly. So far this season, Vancouver's two 5-on-3 goals have come in games where they ended up losing (Oct. 16 at Calgary and Oct. 27 vs. Detroit). THE LOSER POINT DROUGHT CONTINUES <img src= class="imageFloatLeftFramed">29 games and counting and the Canucks have yet to benefit from the NHL's "loser point" system but this current stretch still pales in comparison to Vancouver's all-time longest stretch without a point from an overtime and/or shootout loss. Since the inception of the shootout in the 2005.06 season that guaranteed all NHL games will be allowed the possibility of a "losing" team to earn a point, the longest the Canucks have ever gone without recording an OTL and/or SOL is 43 games from October 13, 2006 to January 18, 2007 inclusive. That season, the Canucks dropped a shootout affair to the Minnesota Wild on October 10, 2006 at the Xcel Energy Center and did not record another loss in overtime or shootout until January 19, 2007 in a shootout loss to the Buffalo Sabres at the HSBC Arena. During that stretch, the Canucks did have to go beyond regulation nine times but managed to come away with six overtime wins and three shootout wins in those games. Vancouver's current stretch of 29 games and counting without a "loser point" is now the team's second longest such streak. Last season, their longest stretch without a "loser point" was 15 games. They began the season with a 9-6-0 record before suffering a shootout loss against the Avalanche on November 12, 2008 at GM Place. NUMBER CRUNCHING PLAYER OF THE WEEK (for the week ending Sunday, December 6th) <img src= class="imageFloatRightFramed">Alex Burrows: Three goals and four points in three games played. It seems safe to say that the 'one empty net goal in 18 games stretch' for Burrows is far in the rear-view mirror. The Pincourt, Quebec native was Vancouver's hottest player in the first three games of the road trip recording a goal in each contest. He didn't quite pull a Lemieux by scoring five different ways in a game, but he certainly found plenty of unique ways to score his three goals over the course of the week - out of midair in Carolina, off his hip in Philadelphia, and by sheer force of will in New Jersey seeing as how he continues to claim he never touched the puck on the goal that was credited to him. Overall, Burrows has found the back of the net in five of the last six games. The only game over the past six that he didn't score in (versus San Jose on November 29th) was the only game in the stretch he didn't register a shot on goal. In his last five straight games where he has recorded at least one shot on goal, he has scored a goal in that game. Who wouldn't love those odds? CRUNCHED BY THE NUMBERS <img src= class="imageFloatLeftFramed">Mikael Samuelsson: Two assists in three games played this week. For a player whose purpose is to provide clutch goal scoring, the last month has not been a very productive one for the former Detroit Red Wing. From November 5th to December 5th inclusive, Samuelsson has managed just two goals in 13 games but neither of his tallies was exactly crucial in the circumstances. His last goal came back on November 28th against the Oilers - the final goal in an 8-2 blowout victory by the Canucks over the Oilers. Prior to that, he scored the final goal in a 5-2 win by the Canucks over the Colorado Avalanche on November 20th. Samuelsson's last significant goal(s) came way back on November 3rd against the New York Rangers. He opened the scoring that night and added the 3-1 insurance marker in an eventual 4-1 Canucks win over the New York Rangers.
  18. <img src= class="imageFloatRightFramed">A 3-2-0 record represents a good, but not great, numbers for a home stand. But we've got some great numbers for the Canucks Community to chew on in this week's edition of Number Crunching. AN OFF NIGHT IN THE DOT What's an even rarer sight than a Canucks home loss this season? A night where the Canucks are dominated in the faceoff dot. Heading into the Sunday's game, the Canucks had lost the faceoff battle just once in their previous 12 games. The Canucks won just 24 of 57 total faceoffs against the Sharks - good for just a 42 percent success rate. Statistically, it was actually their second worst night in the faceoff circle. Their only worst outing this season was back on October 11th against the Dallas stars when they won just 37 percent of the draws (19 draws won on 52 faceoffs). Losing the faceoff battle hasn't exactly spelled disaster for the Canucks however. They are 4-3-0 this season in games where they finish below 50 percent in the faceoff circle. BUSTING OUT If for nothing else, this past week of Canucks hockey will be remembered for finally shaking the monkey off several of the players' backs - most notably Alex Burrows, Alex Edler and Kyle Wellwood. Burrows was the first to bump the slump when he tallied the first goal of the game on Thursday against the Los Angeles Kings - marking his first goal in seven games and his first goal scored against a goaltender in 19 games. Finally reunited on a fully healthy top line, Burrows has a solid week scoring twice and adding an assist in three games. <img src= class="imageFloatRightFramed">In that same game against the Kings, Kyle Wellwood not only tallied his first goal of the season and first in 24 regular season games overall, he also scored arguably the most dramatic empty-net goal in the history of the NHL. After having a goal stripped taken away from him just 13 minutes earlier, Wellwood finally deposited his first of the season into an empty net by sniping a top shelf beauty past makeshift goalie Drew Doughty. Wellwood wrapped up the week but showing he actually can beat a real goaltender, scoring on San Jose's Evgeni Nabokov in the first period of Vancouver's 4-2 loss to the Sharks. Rounding out the week for slump busters was Alex Edler who tallied his first of the season on Saturday night against the Edmonton Oilers - his first goal in 33 regular season games dating back to March 27th. Edler was just one of two Canucks to record points in all three games last week. The other was Steve Bernier. Which Canucks are the next on our list to watch break slumps? Here are the top three on our Number Crunching list: Kevin Bieksa: no goals in 25 games and counting. Sami Salo: no points in 11 games and no goals in 39 games and counting. Ryan Johnson: no goals in 55 games and counting. GLASS BREAKER <img src= class="imageFloatLeftFramed">He got some mock jeers at GM Place on Thursday night when he was given credit for a goal that was initially thought to have been scored by Kyle Wellwood, but while the fans might have given him a bit of a rough ride, Number Crunching gives plenty of love to the Tanner Glass. Just how unheralded was Tanner Glass when he signed with the Canucks as a free agent on August 5, 2009? The Canucks media guide does not even have him listed in the featured players section instead listing him with the other 'In the System' players alongside the likes of Guillaume Desbiens, Taylor Ellington, and Evan Oberg. Conversely, Brad Lukowich (currently on loan to the AHL's Texas Stars) is given a two-page spread as are all roster mainstays (Roberto Luongo is allotted a four-page spread). While five points (4-1-5) in 22 games played isn't necessarily something to write home about, for Tanner Glass it has already shattered some of his previous career highs. Prior to joining the Canucks, the Regina native had all of two career NHL points in 44 games played. The only career stat Glass hasn't matched or surpassed at this point is his record for games played in a single season. He appeared in a career-high 41 games in 2007.08 with the Florida Panthers. NUMBER CRUNCHING PLAYER OF THE WEEK (for the week ending Sunday, November 29th) The NHL has their weekly awards, so why not Number Crunching? Our inaugural Number Crunching Player of the Week award goes to: <img src= class="imageFloatRightFramed">Alexander Edler: Five points (1-4-5) in three games played. Edler had a season-high three points (1-2-3) on Saturday against the Oilers and despite all the heat he's taken from media and fans alike for his lack of production, his 16 points on the season have him just one point behind Christian Ehrhoff for most points by a Canucks blue-liner. CRUNCHED BY THE NUMBERS At Number Crunching, we don't hold back on praise but we also don't hold back on criticism. Here is the player(s) we are calling out this week: <img src= class="imageFloatLeftFramed">Kevin Bieksa, Sami Salo, and Mathieu Schneider: Combined zero points (0-0-0) in three games played. They are supposed to key offensive cogs on the Canucks blue-line but the trio was completely shutout for the week in the points column. That stat is even more eye-popping when you consider the Canucks had a banner night on Saturday on the power play scoring four times on five man-advantages. Sami Salo is the only one of the three that was actually on the ice for a power play goal on Saturday, but even that might be a tad misleading. He happened to be on the ice for Mason Raymond's power play goal which, many will recall, happened in the midst of a line change.
  19. If there was one player the Canucks need to rediscover his offensive game in a big way, especially in light of all the injuries to their forwards, it would be none other than Alex Burrows. The 28-year old, who last season had a breakout campaign with a career-high in goals (28), assists (23), and points (51), isn't off to a terrible start by any means with eight points (3-5-8) in 15 games. However, for a player who last season finished second behind only Daniel Sedin on the team in goal scoring, it is a bit of a disappointing start for the fifth-year NHL veteran. The 6'1", 200 lbs. forward has managed just one assist in his last five games and is riding a 10-game goal-less drought having not scored since October 11th against the Dallas Stars. Last season, Burrows' longest scoring drought was 12 games from December 13th to January 4th. The Pincourt, QC native is hoping for a repeat performance of last season against the New York Rangers when he netted two goals at Madison Square Garden back on November 19, 2008 and led the Canucks to a 6-3 victory. It was one of just three two-goal games he had in the 2008.09 campaign. In two career games versus the Rangers, Burrows has notched three points (2-1-3) and has a plus-two rating.