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  1. 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.
  2. It was a Debbie Downer sort of week in Canucks Nation with just one victory in three games to celebrate and Number Crunching continues with the theme by presenting the stats you'd least like to hear about. But of course we do have one bright spot and that's our Number Crunching Player of the Week Award, which figures to be a Ray of sunshine in an otherwise dreary week in Canuckland. THE 100-POINT CURSE? <img src= class="imageFloatLeftFramed">Henrik Sedin became the first player in the NHL this season to reach the 100-point mark on Saturday and while it is a very significant individual accomplishment, is it really one worth rejoicing? Since the NHL lockout and coming into this season, the NHL has seen 18 100-point performances (Henrik became the 19th on Saturday and Alex Ovechkin became the 20th on Sunday). Of those 18 performances, 13 of them were players who belonged to teams that were bounced from the NHL playoffs by the second round while only three of them managed to taste the ultimate glory at the end of the season. The following list shows the team success for the 18 respective 100-plus point performers since the NHL lockout: Three failed to qualify for the playoffs: Alex Ovechkin (WSH) and Sidney Crosby (PIT) in 2005.06; and Joe Sakic (COL) in 2006.07. Five were eliminated in round one: Jaromir Jagr (NYR) in 2005.06; Sidney Crosby (PIT), Vincent Lecavalier (STL) and Martin St. Louis (STL) in 2006.07; and Alex Ovechkin (WSH) in 2007.08. Five were eliminated in round two: Joe Thornton (SJS), Dany Heatley (OTT) and Daniel Alfredsson (OTT) in 2005.06; Joe Thornton (SJS) in 2006.07; and Alex Ovechkin (WSH) in 2008.09. Two lost in the Stanley Cup Final: Dany Heatley (OTT) in 2006.07 and Evgeni Malkin (PIT) in 2007.08. Three won the Stanley Cup: Eric Staal (CAR) in 2005.06; and Evgeni Malkin (PIT) and Sidney Crosby (PIT) in 2008.09. Here is how the Canucks' team success has fared over the years when they have had a 100-point performer on their roster in the regular season: 1992.93 Pavel Bure (110 points) - Advanced to second round 1993.94 Pavel Bure (107 points) - Advanced to Stanley Cup Final 1995.96 Alex Mogilny (107 points) - Qualified for playoffs 2002.03 Markus Naslund (104 points) - Advanced to second round HOUSE OF HORRORS <img src= class="imageFloatRightFramed">The Canucks will not publicly admit it, but if there is one team they would like to avoid in a playoff match-up it would be the San Jose Sharks considering their lack of success playing at the HP Pavilion at San Jose as evidenced on Saturday when they dropped their fifth straight game at the Shark Tank dating back to 2007.08. The five-game winless streak (0-4-1) at the Shark Tank is the longest active losing streak for the Canucks in any building in the NHL. Their second longest winless streak in an opposition building is at the Arena in Glendale, Arizona - home of the Phoenix Coyotes. Vancouver's winless streak at the Arena is three games (0-1-2). Below is a list of some of the other buildings around the NHL where the Canucks currently have a multi-game winless streak: Honda Center (Anaheim): 0-1-1 HSBC Arena (Buffalo): 0-1-1 RBC Center (Carolina): 0-2-0 Bell Centre (Montreal): 0-2-0 St. Pete Times Forum (Tampa Bay): 0-2-0 FIRST THE WORST <img src= class="imageFloatLeftFramed">Perhaps the best statistic in the Canucks favours this week was that after surrendering two first period goals to the Oilers to open the week on Tuesday, the Canucks were perfect in opening frames defensively to close out the week. So far this season, the first period has clearly been the worst for the Canucks. Among all teams currently in a playoff position, the Canucks have surrendered more first period goals than any other club with 77 in 75 games played (averaging more than one first period goal per game). The overall leader for most first period goals against this season are the Atlanta Thrashers, who have given up 82 in the same number of games played as the Canucks (for the week ending Sunday, March 28). It is a stark reversal from last season when the Canucks were one of the better first period teams in the NHL giving up just 65 total first period tallies during the 82-game regular season. The 77 (and counting) first period goals surrendered by the Canucks this season are the most in the Roberto Luongo era and the most they have surrendered since giving up 82 first period tallies during the 2005.06 season. Last season, the San Jose Sharks led all playoff-bound teams giving up 79 first period goals during the regular season. Also of note in 2008.09, the top four playoff-bound teams that surrendered the most first period goals (namely the Sharks, Canadiens, Flames and Flyers) all ended up being knocked out of the playoffs in round one. NUMBER CRUNCHING PLAYER OF THE WEEK <img src= class="imageFloatRightFramed">Andrew Raycroft: 30 saves on 31 shots on Wednesday against Anaheim. It is not often a player that appears in just one game gets singled out for a weekly honour but in Andrew Raycroft's case we are willing to make an exception. Raycroft led the Canucks to their only victory of the week and looked very good doing it, even getting the crowd to chant his name on Wednesday at GM Place. The victory was the eighth of the season for Raycroft marking the most wins for a single Canucks backup netminder in the Luongo-era. Raycroft's eight victories on the season are also the second most in the NHL among netminders who have played 20 games-or-fewer (Raycroft has appeared in 19 games this season). Only Washington's Michal Neuvirth (17 games played in) has more victories among goaltenders in that category with nine. Honourable mentions go to Daniel Sedin, who finished the week with three goals and five points and extended his overall goal streak to four games entering the week, and Henrik Sedin, who had six assists in three games and not only surpassed the 100-point mark for the first time in his career but also established a new career-high in assists with his 73rd helper and counting. CRUNCHED BY THE NUMBERS <img src= class="imageFloatLeftFramed">Sami Salo: Zero points and two shots on goal in three games played. For a player that possesses arguably the most dangerous shot on the team, Salo's lack of pucks thrown on net in recent contests has to be a cause for concern. Salo managed just one shot each against the Oilers and Ducks on Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively, and then was held without a shot for just the 10th time this season on Saturday against the Sharks. He also had a particular tough outing on the defensive end on Saturday as he was caught on the ice for three of the four Sharks goals on the evening and had an especially embarrassing gaffe at the end of the game where he misplayed the puck after an icing call had been waived off leading to a Sharks' empty-net goal. Salo enters this week with no points in his last seven games - his longest streak without a point since an 11-game slump from November 3 - 29, 2009.
  3. Those chants were sweet to backup Andrew Raycroft as they were to me. The premium in the playoffs is goaltending because every game counts and a game stolen by Roberto Luongo could mean the difference between winning and losing a series. Since coming back from the Olympic break Luongo has been faltering, including an absolutely abysmal performance in Edmonton two nights ago, so it's nice to see that the Canucks have at least found confidence in their backup goaltending, ending a goaltending carousel that's featured Curtis Sanford, Johan Hedberg, Bob Essensa, Peter Skudra... the list goes on and on. Not that it should ever happen, but if Luongo falters in the playoffs at least Alain Vigneault will have some confidence in Raycroft to put him in net. A lot of people wondered why Vigneault didn't start Raycroft in Edmonton and then Luongo against a tougher Anaheim squad, but quite simply, I think it was because Vigneault planned to start Luongo every night until the end of the season, maybe save for the last game of the season if it was meaningless. I disagree with D13G0 DA SNIPUR here because I think the worst thing to do to a struggling goalie is staple him to the bench. Get Luongo more games, see more pucks, swallow the bitter pills, and hopes he finds his grove come playoff time. There's no point in giving Raycroft more ice-time if he's not going to start in the playoffs - at most he's an insurance policy the coaching staff can trust. All things considered the Canucks probably have the division title and home-ice advantage locked up in the first round. The Avalanche are five points away with nine games to play and aren't exactly on a roll, going just 5-4-1 in their last ten. The only difference the last game of the season may make is deciding which team the Canucks will have to play in the first round, and that could mean LA, Colorado, Nashville, or Detroit. Sorry Calgary fans, I don't think so. Just a side note, if the Flames miss the playoffs this year the Sutters will really have to look at themselves in the mirror. The Flames have been taken sideways steps at the most since their Cup run against the Lightning. That Olli Jokinen trade was a do-over (I didn't think he would mesh well with Jarome Iginla in the first place - they're too similar) and that Dion Phaneuf trade may end up hurting them too. <img src=""class="imageFloatLeftFramed">Raycroft, who earns $500,000, is set to be a UFA at the end of the season and don't be surprised if Mike Gillis ends the goaltending carousel now and gives Raycroft a brand-new multi-year deal worth roughly the same money next year. I think it's a foregone conclusion that Cory Schneider won't be sticking around because 1) he's a valuable trade chip and 2) he won't be starting here anytime soon. Several teams will still be in the market for a goalie and if anything Gillis will make his presence felt at the draft, where the Canucks don't have a second or third round pick. By signing Raycroft to a multi-year contract, Gillis and Vigneault will save themselves from the backup goaltender headache and really provide Luongo and the team with some stability. Goalies are developing such different styles and having Raycroft stick around for a little longer provides more familiarity between him and the five other guys on the ice. Congrats to Henrik Sedin hitting 71 assists, tying a career high, but also moving him to 99 points and the league lead. Given Henrik's current pace, he'll be finishing the year with 109.7 points, which rounded up to 110 will tie him with Pavel Bure (perhaps the best ever Russian scorer) for the franchise record. The Sedins do face an incredible array of goaltending talent in their upcoming games, with Evgeni Nabokov, Ilya Bryzgalov, Miikka Kiprusoff, Niklas Backstrom, and then Craig Anderson and Jonathan Quick. However, if they can pull off anything like Henrik's spin-o-rama backhand pass to Alex Burrows again (they will), the points will come. Props also to George Parros and Darcy Hordichuk for mixing it up on more than one occasion including a very spirited first bout. Michael Grabner was equally impressive with his speed, but as Chris Cuthbert pointed out he's been unwilling to go to the net. He reminds me a lot of a younger Mason Raymond - his wheels just turn too fast for him to think and react at the right time. Kyle Wellwood has really picked up his game lately and when Steve Bernier comes back this team will be really deep up front. (And I'm terribly sorry Daniel, but I don't believe you were just "throwing the puck at the net." That was a set play and Burrows was the fly-by screen. If Daniel was truly throwing it there for Burrows to fetch the puck should've been shot five feet lower. That puck went top corner blocker side. Take a look at Burrows' route and where his stick was. He wasn't even going to bother tipping it. All he wanted to do was tie up Niedermayer. Video here.) The Canucks weren't stellar last night even though the score does suggest we dominated. The Canucks had six giveaways last night and four of them came from our defensemen. As much as the Canucks were successful in pinning the Ducks in their own zone, the opposite was true as well and had it not been for Raycroft the score would've been much closer. On more than one occasion Raycroft stood on his head. The Ducks are an interesting story this year, as their offensive production has absolutely gone downhill. After scoring 245 goals last year the Ducks sit only at 205 this year. Everyone except for Jonas Hiller, Corey Perry, and Bobby Ryan (what a fantastic set of hands he has) seems to have taken a step backwards. The bad news is that Scott Niedermayer may retire at the end of the year, which would end his distinguished career on a low note. If the Ducks finish out of the playoffs it'd be the first time since 1996 Niedermayer has failed to reach the post-season and he's two points shy of 100 career playoff points. The good news is that should Niedermayer retire, the Ducks will have lots of money to play with and their young core is already in place. The Canucks visit the reeling Sharks Saturday night on CBC. EDIT: I didn't realize this until I saw this just now, but a fight broke up between a Ducks fan and a Canucks fan last night. I only saw the TSN feed and they didn't say anything about it. Anyway, Mozy did a bang-up job writing it up and I wholeheartedly agree with him.
  4. The Canucks are on a high after picking up seven out of a possible eight points (3-0-1) but Number Crunching is going to take a page from Flo Rida's book and tell you about the "low, low, low, low, low, low" from this past week of Canucks hockey. But one thing that's definitely not low is the recipient of this week's Number Crunching Player of the Week Award, who will be revealed if you read on. THE BIG O <img src= class="imageFloatLeftFramed">Canucks head coach Alain Vigneault suggested on Sunday that, after playing their eighth game in 13 days, his team ran out of gas towards the end of game against the Flames and no statistic proves that better than the big goose egg sitting in the third period shot column. According the Canucks Media Guide, it is the fifth time in team history that the Canucks have failed to register at least a single shot in an entire regulation period. The last time that happened was over two years ago on October 21, 2007 in the second period of a game against the Columbus Blue Jackets. The Canucks did go on to win that game versus Columbus by a final score of 4-1 despite being out-shot 36-19 overall that evening. Oddly enough, in the same Sunday game against the Flames, the Canucks also had one of their best periods as far as shots-on-goal are concerned. Their 20 shots in the first period were just shy of their season-high of 22 in a single period set back on October 30, 2009 against the Anaheim Ducks when they notched the feat in the third period of a 7-2 loss. OPEN SEASON ON RAZOR <img src= class="imageFloatRightFramed">On Thursday in Phoenix, the Canucks saw goaltender Andrew Raycroft turn in one of his best performances of the season despite a shootout loss - even more impressive considering the lack of support they gave him in the form of blocked shots. Statisticians at the Arena in Glendale credited the Canucks with just three blocked shots in that contest, marking a season-low for Vancouver in that category. The previous season-low was five blocked shots, which the Canucks had recorded three previous times this season (Dec 10 vs ATL; Dec 14 vs LAK; Jan 7 vs PHX). The Canucks have failed to record double digits in blocked shots just 17 times this season through 69 games played posting a record of 9-7-1 in those games. Through 69 games this season, the Canucks have blocked a total of 841 shots - an average of 12.2 per game. You didn't really think this whole blog could make it through without looking at some of the highs from this week, did you? KES MAKES IT FIVE <img src= class="imageFloatLeftFramed">Ryan Kesler certainly provided a big high this week when he became the fifth Canuck to tally his 20th goal of the season joining Alex Burrows, Mikael Samuelsson, Henrik Sedin, and Mason Raymond. The five 20-plus goal scorers matches last year's total when the Canucks saw both Sedin brothers, Kesler, Burrows, and Demitra all reach the 20-goal plateau. With Daniel Sedin sitting at 19 goals this season, it is a matter of when and not if they will have at least six 20-goal scorers this season which would mark the most 20-goal scorers that Canucks have had in a single season since 1995.96. In 1995.96, the Canucks had seven 20-goal scorers in Alex Mogilny, Trevor Linden, Martin Gelinas, Russ Courtnall, Cliff Ronning, Markus Naslund and Jesse Belanger. Naslund and Belanger, however, joined the Canucks part-way through the season and scored the majority of their respective goals with their previous team. The last time the Canucks had six-or-more players score 20-plus goals all for the Canucks was in 1992.93 when they got 20-plus goals from seven players: Pavel Bure, Petr Nedved, Trevor Linden, Geoff Courtnall, Cliff Ronning, Greg Adams and Dixon Ward. They also had an eighth 20-goal scorer on the roster in Murray Craven although all of his 25 goals that season came with the Hartford Whalers before he was dealt to Vancouver. The most 20-goal scorers the Canucks have had in a single season is eight: 1980.81 and 1984.85. (Canucks goals only). TOP OF THE HEAP <img src= class="imageFloatRightFramed">Congratulations this week goes out to Henrik Sedin who recorded career assist no. 416, all with the Canucks, and in the process became the franchise's most prolific assists man surpassing the record held since 2008 by Trevor Linden. What is even more impressive is Henrik's rapid pace at scaling the assists mountain. His 416th assist came in his 715th game with the Canucks. Trevor Linden recorded his final assist as a Canuck in his 1,138th game with the team on April 1, 2008. For trivia fans, Linden's final assist as a Canuck came on a goal by Willie Mitchell against the Colorado Avalanche. NUMBER CRUNCHING PLAYER OF THE WEEK <img src= class="imageFloatLeftFramed">Mikael Samuelsson: Six goals and 10 points in four games played. If you close your eyes and listen real carefully, you can still hear the faint sound of sobbing coming from Swedish Olympic hockey coach Bengt-Ake Gustafsson. Samuelsson, who was snubbed by the Swedish Olympic team apparently because Mattias Weinhandl was going to be a better fit playing with Daniel and Henrik Sedin, finally got his chance to play on a regular basis with the twins this week and he definitely delivered the goods. Samuelsson opened the week with his first career hat-trick against the Avalanche on March 9 and by the end of the week had new career-high marks in goals (30) and points (53). The worst thing to happen to Samuelsson this week is he saw his career-high six-game goal streak come to an end on Sunday against the Flames although he continued his point streak with an assist in that contest giving him points in seven straight games to end the week. The seven-game point streak not only matched a season-high previously set from December 27, 2009 to January 9, 2010 but gives him another shot at going for a career-high eight game point streak when he faces the Islanders on Tuesday. CRUNCHED BY THE NUMBERS <img src= class="imageFloatRightFramed">Mason Raymond: 0 points and a minus-four rating in four games played. He had a rough start to the week in Colorado on March 9 when Coach V decided to bench him after he made terrible giveaway in his own zone resulting in a goal against in the game against the Avalanche (he had a season-low 8:06 of ice-time that night) and the week did not get much better for the third-year pro after that. A healthy Demitra and a red hot Samuelsson meant no room for Raymond among the top-six forwards and, consequently, the 24-year-old was dropped down to the third line playing alongside Kyle Wellwood and Jannik Hansen. His four-game point drought this week marks the third time he has gone four-or-more games without a point. His season-long point slump is five games set from November 29, 2009 to December 8, 2009.
  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. The Vancouver Canucks' motion for a victory was denied by the hot Ottawa Senators near Parliament Hill on Thursday night. Though they didn't all 'fall flat', the Canucks had to acknowledge the patient game the scalding hot Ottawa Senators are playing (Photo courtesy of Phillip MacCallum/ Getty Images) Thanks in large part to the play of sophomore goaltender Brian Elliot and center Jason Spezza, Ottawa extended it's team record winning streak to 11 games, defeating the Canucks 3-1. Elliot may have lost the shutout bid with 99 seconds remaining, but he beat his own team record with his ninth straight win. Captain Daniel Alfredsson netted three assists during the victory, while Jason Spezza extended his goal scoring streak to six games. "Ells (Brian Elliot) has been phenomenal, there's not enough we can say about how well he's played," noted Spezza. "He just keeps it going and it seems like every night he seems better and better, so it's going well for us." Mike Fisher of the Senators (#12) goes fishing for a rebound, but Raycroft left nothing en route to an 18 save performance (Photo by Phillip MacCallum/ Getty Images) After winning 7 straight, the Canucks have run into some hot teams from the East, first Montreal Tuesday, and now Ottawa on Thursday. But the road trip gains some optimism with a trip Saturday morning (10 am PST) to Boston, where the Bruins have lost nine straight, including a 3-2 overtime loss to the surging Montreal Canadiens. "We had been good on the road prior to these last two games and the game in Montreal, but that being said, we've got a lot of guys whose personal stats are as good on the road as they are at home," said coach Alain Vigneault with some concern in his voice. The Canucks finished with 30 shots, and threw a lot (including Kyle Wellwood) at the net, but Brian Elliot is enjoying a career season (Photo courtesy of AP Photo) Alain Vigneault decided to start Andrew Raycroft, after starting Roberto Luongo the past 26 games. In that span, Luongo's record was 17-6-3. Raycroft recorded his 100th career loss, right on the heels of his 99th career victory in a comeback victory over Toronto on Saturday. Raycroft made 18 saves on the night, with the 3rd Sens tally being scored into an empty net. Daniel Sedin fires a slapshot at Brian Elliot from the faceoff circle at Scotiabank Place Thursday night The Canucks have an immediate chance for some redemption when they take on the listless Boston Bruins, who have lost 9 straight, Saturday. But they also have a chance for retribution once they finish their landmark 14 game road trip. The Senators will play in Vancouver March 13th, the Canucks first home game back after this trip, with Luongo almost certain to get that start. Canucks fans do a fantastic job of representin' with the large Vancouver posse "in effect" at Scotiabank Place February 4th Kyle Wellwoods 2-1 marker vs Ottawa (courtesy of Pouya from CanucksHD, - just click) Larenzo Jensen, with files from Yahoo Sports, Getty Images and CanucksHD
  7. Please join us at and welcome Philip Yoe to our writing team. In his first contribution he looks at the contributions of Andrew Raycroft, and how the goaltender is aiming to get his career back on track with the Canucks. By Philip Yoe: When news broke that Roberto Luongo would be out of action due to a hairline rib fracture, Canuck Nation collectively were ready to hit the panic button. But thankfully, Andrew Raycroft has since pulled everyone back from the ledge with his solid play. Raycroft's performance in the games he has started since Luongo was injured has given Canucks fans all over a newfound confidence. Last year Luongo missed a total of 24 games when he tore a groin muscle in a game against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Over that span the Canucks went 9-12-3 as Curtis Sanford, Jason LaBarbera and Cory Schneider all saw some action. Overall, the Canucks held their own in Roberto's absence but definitely had a large amount of room for improvement. This summer Mike Gillis signed Raycroft as a free agent netminder this summer and it raised a lot of eyebrows. Most had considered Raycroft a bust despite winning the Calder trophy in 2004 as the outstanding rookie of the year. That season Raycroft backstopped the Boston Bruins to 29 victories while holding a save percentage of .926 and GAA of 2.05. The next year was the NHL lockout and Andrew Raycroft landed with Tappara Tampere of the Finnish SM-liiga. He appeared in 11 games, winning four of those games. When the NHL resumed in 2005 Raycroft was nowhere the goaltender he was before as he won just 8 games out of 30 with the Boston Bruins with a 3.70 GAA and .878 save percentage. Raycroft was eventually traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs for the rights to Tuuka Rask. Things did not improve for Raycroft in Toronto despite a decent first season that saw him pick up 37 wins in 72 games. Things got worse in 2007 when Raycroft was relegated to the backup role when the Leafs acquired Vesa Toskala from the San Jose Sharks. Raycroft appeared in only 19 games that season while winning just 2 of them. He was subsequently bought out by the Leafs and promptly signed a 1-year contract with the Colorado Avalanche as a backup to Peter Budaj in hopes of getting a clean slate. But yet again, things did not go well for the 29-year old Belleville native as he won just 12 games in 31 appearances with an .892 save percantage and goals against average of 3.14. So jump to this past offseason, Jason Labarbera signed a contract with the Phoenix Coyotes while Curtis Sanford left to join the Montreal Canadiens. This left the Canucks with their 2004 first round draft pick, Cory Schneider, as their only option as a backup to Luongo. As a result, on July 6th, Raycroft was offered a contract by GM Mike Gillis and signed the 1-year deal with the Canucks. Reaction around the hockey community was mostly of confusion or mockery, particulary from fanbases of the Maple Leafs and Avalanche who had seen how poorly Raycroft had played on a regular basis. But after five starts, the ones getting the last laugh are Mike Gillis and the Vancouver Canucks. Andrew Raycroft has compiled a very solid record of 4-1-0 in Luongo's absence. He also leads the NHL with a 1.60 GAA and is tied for first with a .936 save percentage. Has Raycroft regained the form that saw him win the Calder trophy 2004? Only time will tell as it is still just five games but he is off to a great start. Raycroft has given Canucks fans the confidence in the backup goaltender that has been missing since Alex Auld was still a Canuck. Auld, of course, was a part of the trade with Florida that involved bringing Luongo to Vancouver. Dany Sabourin, Curtis Sanford, Jason Labarbera and Cory Schneider have all tried and have not been able to perform as well as fans would have liked. Raycroft came in this summer with low expectations and has far surpassed those expectations. What happens from here is left to be seen, but surely should Luongo struggle or once again get injured, Canuck Nation will not need to hold their breath. For more original Canucks articles, visit us at: