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Two of the most dynamic offensive superstars in the National Hockey League. Two young, All-Star defencemen patrolling the blue-line. A relatively unknown starting netminder but one who has shown an ability to stand on his head from time to time. A coach who is considered one of the best hockey minds in the League. All together on a team that just a few short years ago was immersed in a period best described as the franchise's Dark Age. <img src=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/bc/images/images/inbydate05/dec2105/canada_t.jpg class="imageFloatLeftFramed">Sound familiar? The 2010 Stanley Cup Champions Chicago Blackhawks? Perhaps, but no. Rather, the description is of a team much nearer and dearer to the hearts of hockey fans in British Columbia: the 2002-03 Vancouver Canucks. A team captained by then four-time NHL All-Star Markus Naslund, who by season's end would become a two-time First Team All-Star and the recipient of the Lester B. Pearson Award. A team that featured a dominant power forward in Todd Bertuzzi, who posted a career-best 97 points during that year's regular season and would join his best friend Naslund as a First Team All-Star at the end of the 2003 season. A team that had two former first round picks on their back end in Mattias Ohlund and Ed Jovanovski, the latter a Canadian Olympic Gold medalist. A team whose number one goaltender, Dan Cloutier, was coming off a career-high 33 wins in the regular season and beginning to build a reputation as bona fide starting netminder. A team led by former Jack Adams Award and Stanley Cup winner Marc Crawford, who would go on to become the franchise's all-time wins leader behind the bench. A team that had missed the post-season for four consecutive seasons from 1996-97 to 1999-00 and saw attendance figures plummet to a franchise low in their new home of General Motors Place in 1990-00 but by 2002-03 would be playing to near sell-out crowds every night. A team that featured arguably the most talented group ever assembled under the Vancouver Canucks banner and would surely deliver the Stanley Cup to the city of Vancouver. A team that had the third-year Minnesota Wild on the ropes in their 2003 Western Conference Semi-Final series - leading the series three games to one at one point and later holding a 2-0 lead in Game 7 - and was ready to make flight plans to Anaheim for the Western Conference Final against the Mighty Ducks. <img src=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/bc/images/images/inbydate05/dec0705/nazzy_t.jpg class="imageFloatRightFramed">A championship team... ...that never came to be. A team torn apart by a violent, on-ice incident the following year that would scar both city and sport and a team that would be only a shell of its former self when the NHL reinvented itself in time for the 2005-06 season. A team that would eventually see three of its members going on to kiss the Stanley Cup - Brad May, Matt Cooke and Brent Sopel - but none of them together and none of them in Vancouver. A team that, though now mostly disbanded, undoubtedly watched on Wednesday as the Stanley Cup was paraded around the Wachovia Center in Philadelphia by the Blackhawks and had just one thought flowing through their collective minds: There, but for the bounce of a puck, goes us.
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=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2010/03/mar2410_burtwin_rr.jpg 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=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2010/03/mar2710_scrappy_t.jpg 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 Jobing.com Arena in Glendale, Arizona - home of the Phoenix Coyotes. Vancouver's winless streak at the Jobing.com 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=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2010/03/mar2710_face_t.jpg 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=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2010/03/032410_VAN_ANA_205d.jpg 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=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2010/03/mar2010_muddle_t.jpg 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.
<img src="http://nhluploads.invisionzone.com/canucks/1262568096/gallery_43389_43_54888.jpg" class="imageFloatLeftFramed">Notes: -Players will be listed according to their primary position during this decade. For example, Naslund will be listed as a left winger because he spent most of this decade as a left winger. -A player's success throughout the decade will be taken into consideration, not just individual season accomplishments. Second Team LW – Daniel Sedin After being feared that him and his brother Daniel would not develop into first line forwards, but whose saying they aren't now? Daniel Sedin has established himself as one of the top left wingers in Canucks history. A scoring threat in the offensive zone and a reliable defender in the defensive zone. Daniel has been the team's leading scorer two of the past three seasons. Honourable Mention(s): Alex Burrows C – Brendan Morrison If you needed a clutch goal, Brendan Morrison was the guy you'd look for as he is the franchise leader in regular season overtime goals. Morrison was solid at both ends of the rink and even on the point on the power play. Morrison also was an integral part of the West Coast Express with Markus Naslund and Todd Bertuzzi. At the line's peak in 2002-03, Morrison had 25 goals and 46 assists. In addition, Morrison holds the franchise record for most consecutive games played. Honourable Mention(s): Ryan Kesler RW – Trent Klatt I would have liked to say somebody else, but this decade the Canucks were just not blessed with many great right wingers. Klatt was simply the best out of the right wingers that have played. You could put Anson Carter in this spot, but he played in one season or maybe Alex Burrows, but he's had less than a year with the Sedins on right wing, or maybe Ryan Kesler, but only spent half a season on right wing. Klatt spent most of his time as a Canuck as the right winger for the Sedin twins on the second line. His best season as a Canuck came in 2000-01 when he potted 13 goals and 20 assists. Honourable Mention(s): Anson Carter, Ryan Kesler, Alex Burrows D – Sami Salo Although seemingly made out of glass, Salo has been key contributor when he's been in the lineup this decade and has been a stabilizing presence in the back end. Always a threat on the power play with the one timer, possesses the skill set to move players out from the crease, and is excellent at moving the puck up the ice. D – Willie Mitchell Since being acquired as a free agent in the summer of 2006, Mitchell has been rock solid defensively for the Vancouver Canucks and has come as advertised. The Canucks go-to guy as the shutdown defenceman and in the process has racked up decent point totals for a defensive defenceman. Mitchell has also won the last two Babe Pratt Trophies, the team's best defenceman as voted by the fans. Honourable Mention(s): Brent Sopel G – Dan Cloutier Quite simply there was nobody else to choose as Cloutier had been the team's number one goalie from 2001 to 2005. During his tenure, he posted three straight 30 wins season from 2001-02 to 2003-04 and ranks top-five in all franchise goalie records. Cloutier still remains the franchise record holder for best goals against average in a single season. Honourable Mention(s): Alex Auld First Team LW – Markus Naslund Although you could argue Pavel Bure was the more skilled and better offensive forward, there is no doubt that Naslund was the best left winger this franchise has had. Heading into the 2009-10 NHL campaign, he is the franchise leader in goals, points, power play goals, and shots as well as third in games played and assists behind Canuck greats Trevor Linden and Stan Smyl. Naslund along with Smyl are the longest serving full-time Canucks captains at eight years. In addition, Naslund was chosen as the team's most valuable player four times, led the team seven straight years in scoring, and was the winner of the Lester B. Pearson Award winner (awarded to the league's most outstanding player as voted by the members of the NHLPA). C – Henrik Sedin There were questions about whether Henrik Sedin and his brother Daniel could become legitimate first line forwards in the NHL after being picked second and third overall in 1999. The first five years of the decade, Henrik was mediocre at best, but the last five following the lockout has vaulted him into star player status. Henrik has developed into a dependable two-way forward who excels in both zones, a capable penalty killer, and a player who could win a key draw. RW – Todd Bertuzzi His time at stardom was short lived, but during that time he was the premier power forward in the NHL and was an integral part of hockey's most feared line, the West Coast Express. In the year that the Canucks were supposed to win it all (2002-03), Bertuzzi potted a career-high 46 goals and added 51 assists. His last two years with the Canucks in 2003-04 and 2005-06, he had a respectable 0.87 points per game average, but since his performance has tailed off. D – Ed Jovanovski Jovanovski did it all for the Canucks. He had skating ability, could score from the point on a slapshot or a simple wrist shot, go to the front of net to provide a screen, setup his teammates, send you through the boards with a hit, and fight. He was the complete package. D – Mattias Ohlund For most of this decade, Ohlund was the designated shutdown defenceman for the Canucks and logged upwards of 20 minutes a game nightly for the team playing on both the power play and penalty kill. Ohlund possessed great open-ice hitting ability as well and would always play through pain. Ohlund is also a four time winner of the Babe Pratt Trophy, the team's best defenceman as voted by the fans. Definitely one of the top defenceman in Canucks history. G – Roberto Luongo Need to say anything? In about three and a half seasons as a Canuck goalie, Luongo has already established himself as one of the best goalies in franchise history. Luongo holds the franchise records for the most wins in a single season, best save percentage in a single season, most saves in a single game, longest shutout streak at 242 minutes and 36 seconds, most shutouts in a single season, and most shutouts as a Canuck. Should Luongo finish his career as a Canuck, he is on pace to become the franchise leader in most goaltending categories.