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As the Vancouver Canucks reach the midway point of the 2009/10 schedule, here is a reflection to date of the individual top 11 performers for the club, in my humble opinion. Willie Mitchell, B Willie Mitchell hits Zach Stortini, -has been taking the body with more authority this season (AP Photo / The Canadian Press, Darryl Dyck) Willie Mitchell came to Vancouver touted as a shut-down defender. The Canucks were well acquainted with the Port McNeil blueliner, having been Todd Bertuzzi's irritating shadow when the Canucks faced the Minnesota Wild in the post season. This year, Mitchell has added an element to his game that is a welcome addition for Canucks fans. As pictured, Mitchell has been hitting with more frequency and tenacity, which is what got him so much attention early in his career. Still needs to work on stickhandling, though. His 22:22 average ice-time a game leads all Canucks. Mikael Samuelsson, B- Samuelsson helps Kesler celebrate a goal vs the Oilers (AP Photo/ The Canadian Press, Darryl Dyck) 'Twas earlier in the season when many a Canuck fan pondered whether or not Samuelsson might lead the Canucks in goalscoring this season. Though the torrid pace early, Mikael has slowed significantly, and has the highest puck turnover percentage on the team. He has 10 goals and 14 assists in 39 games, and has improved slightly to +2 rating. Still gives the Canucks an element they were missing last season, and that was someone to shoot the puck. Is ahead of Ryan Kesler by 1 shot in that department, 117, for the team lead. Mason Raymond, A Far and away Mason's prettiest goal in his pro career (AP Photo / The Canadian Press, Darryl Dyck) Raymond has taken his best shot at being this years' "Cinderella story". Whereas last season featured Alex Burrows' unlikely 28 goal outburst, home-grown Canuck talent has converted a hard work ethic and blazing speed into results. No more evident was last Sunday night in Calgary where he helped chase Miikka Kiprusoff with his 'natural' hat trick. Has already left his career best totals in the dust with his hot first half. Gives the Canucks the secondary scoring element they've desperately needed. Canucks fans finally breathing a sigh of relief that the farm system is paying dividends again after a few lean years development wise. Alexander Edler, B Alex Edler challenges Dan Carcillo for the puck, while defending the back door play (Photo by Jim McIsaac, Getty Images) I felt it was unfair that a couple of callers to the Team 1040 radio station referred to Elder as 'Bambi' on a recent talk show. Though he has had his ups and downs as all Canucks have, we're starting to see dividends from the organizations' early pairing with Mattias Ohlund. Though not a typical protege, Edler incorporates pieces of Ohlund's game, and exhibits a willingness to pay the price. His hitting continues to get better, makes good decisions in his own zone, and though he occasionally gets caught pinching, he has picked his spots better. Has 2-19-21 in 33 games, is a -3, and averaging 20:49 a night. Could benefit by making better use of his limited powerplay time. Alexandre Burrows, B "Burr" rubs out Alex Ovechkin, much to the delight of fans at GM Place Dec. 18/09 Though Burrows is not on pace to duplicate his goal production from last season, he is on pace to silence his critics. Ever the pesky, glove in your face mentality, Burrows combines a number of gritty elements, throws in a dash of skill and hockey smarts, with excellent results. He has 10-16-26 in 39 games, and a +12 rating, not so surprisingly tied with both Sedins for 2nd best on the team. Head coach Alain Vigneault continues to stand by 'Burr' and his promotion to the 1st line. He understands his role, and was obviously a little dishevelled by Daniels' 14 game hiatus with a broken left foot. Helps create space for the Sedins with his forecheck, - is easily earning his new ($2 M) contract. Ryan Kesler, A Ryan Kesler scores the game-winning goal versus Jonathan Quick and the L.A. Kings (AP Photo / The Canadian Press, Darryl Dyck) Perhaps it might be best to quote Canucks' captain Roberto Luongo for this report. "He's a warrior. That's his name. Warrior. That's the only name you can use." This in reference to his leg injury sustained recently versus the Oilers, amidst his other aches and pains, and his continued production. We've been witness to a transformation this season, from an excellent player to an elite one. Has 10-23-33 in 39 games, a -1 rating in that span, and logs nearly 20 minutes a night of hard, hard ice. Heart and soul player. Stay tuned for Part II of the Canucks mid-season report card, coming soon, and by all means, throw a shout out if you agree, disagree, or have any thoughts at all on anything you've read. Follow the Canucks all season long at www.thecanuckway.com Larenzo Jensen, with files from AP Photo / The Canadian Press, Getty Images, TSN and Yahoo! Sports
<img src=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2009/11/nov2209_puck_rr.jpg 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=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2009/11/nov2609_wellwood_t.jpg 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=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2009/11/nov2909_glass_t.jpg 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=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2009/11/nov2009_edler2_t.jpg 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=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2009/11/205x115_1_112209.jpg 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.