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  1. After infamously being dubbed "the best player to not yet score in the NHL playoffs", Ryan Kesler scores twice in the Canucks 3-2 overtime win in Nashville. Kesler is surrounded by teammates after tipping home the overtime winner (photos courtesy of AP Photo) One year ago, during their playoff series against the Los Angeles Kings, Roberto Luongo was asked about the play of Ryan Kesler. "He's a warrior. That's all you can call him, a warrior." Canucks fans hearts sagged after a disappointing loss in Vancouver in double overtime. Much attention has been focused on the lack of offensive contributions from key Canuck sources, including (but not limited to) Henrik and Daniel Sedin, and Ryan Kesler. In Kesler's defence, though, many point to his shutdown performance on Jonathan Toews. Just prior to the playoffs, The Canuck Way examined Ryan's importance to the team, in several aspects of the game. Though he's had some very exciting performances throughout the regular season, lending over to the playoffs, Game 3 in Nashville might have been his most important in a Canucks sweater. He paid the price all night, scoring an important first powerplay goal, and set up Chris Higgins for another. With the Canucks on the power play for a hooking call that he drew against Shea Weber, he deftly tipped a Mikael Samuelsson point wrister for the win. "It feels good to get this one and good to go up 2-1 in this series," Kesler told reporters post-game. Former Canuck Shane O'Brien watches helplessly after he failed to block a Mikael Samuelsson wrist shot that Kesler deflects 5-hole on Pekka Rinne Fan reaction in Nashville closely emulated (Predator winger) Jerred Smithson's, who smashed his stick over the crossbar after Kesler's goal. Following suit, a fan threw their beverage onto the ice in the Nashville zone, while others rained their orange towels onto the playing surface as the Canucks celebrated. Predators coach Barry Trotz took a dim view of the penalty call that led to the overtime opportunity. "He chicken-winged the stick and kept moving, and really if you look at it, Webs is trying to pull his stick out of there. I've seen it before. One of the earlier games, he drew a couple of penalties by chicken-winging the stick and just holding it there, and keep moving and see if he can sell it." Predator center David Legwand, who opened the scoring shorthanded, echoed his coach's thoughts. "It's a horrible call. Obviously they're going to think it's a good call, but Kesler's obviously holding his stick. I don't know if (referee) Timmy Peel had a date or something, but he wanted to get out of here pretty quick, it looked like. It's a tough way to lose a game." In typical fashion, Kesler was unapologetic. "He was hooking me. I thought it was a good call. We were the harder working team tonight, and we deserved that one." Leading 2-1, the Canucks now have a chance to take a strangle-hold on the series. Game Four resumes at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville at 5:30 PST. With The Canuck Way playoff action, I'm Larenzo Jensen
  2. I wrote last week in my entry "Ups and Downs" that despite what everyone seems to think, this team was not in a slump. To recap, I think a slump is something like what the Kings are going through. The Kings, a team many picked to break out this year given their maturing young stars, finished October with 8 wins and 3 losses, and then kicked off 4 straight wins in December. By no stretch of the imagination was this a fluke - this is a team, after all, with a franchise centre in Anze Kopitar and Drew Doughty, Jack Johnson, and Jonathan Quick. As of right now the Kings sit 11th in the West. That's a slump. A team that obviously has the tools to win but short of firing Terry Murray or Dean Lombardi has tried everything it can to break out of its funk but only to fail time after time. The Canucks lost 4 in a row prior to a 7-1 drubbing of Dallas, but in those 4 defeats, 2 came in shootouts and one in overtime. That's not a slump, that's just a bump. Of course, having Kari Lehtonen play like he belongs in a beer league helps, but that's besides the point. It's also further proof that the Canucks (read: not specifically Luongo) are horrendous at shootouts, which again begs the question why Vigneault refuses to practise shootouts up until this year, but then you have to blame the Canucks for putting themselves in that position in the first place. <img src=""class="imageFloatRightFramed">If you're talking individual slumps, then you might have something there, but let's put everything into perspective. Stats are the most misleading aspect of sports. Nothing beats watching players and a game with a naked eye. If you're watching it live, even better. Sports scouting is not done through statistics. (Unless it's baseball, but that's a different topic altogether). It's certainly helpful and at least gives you an idea of how the player is performing, but by no means does it tell the entire story. A 20-goal scorer in the NHL, on average, will score a goal about once every four games. That's not bad, but remember that's the average. Since most scorers in the NHL are streaky and feast-or-famine type players, if that player scores a hat trick in one game, the law of averages say that he has a good chance of going the next twelve games or so without a goal. Take, for example, Mikael Samuelsson. His goal vs. Dallas was his first in 15 games. Before that dry spell, he was on a tear, with 5 points in 4 games (Dec. 20-26). Before that, he had gone 7 games without a goal (Dec. 1-18). Even before that, he had another 7-game goalless drought (Oct. 19-Nov. 4). Goalless droughts for him aren't unusual. So, 15 games is a little longer than anyone would like, but Samuelsson's still on pace for about 20 goals, which would still rank among his career highs. His feast-or-famine scoring ability couldn't be more apparent than last year when he got hot at the right time. Mason Raymond's 11-game goalless streak (Jan. 3-22) sounds terrible, but he had scored a hat trick two games before he got hurt. He's yet to find his groove, just less than one month removed from a hand injury and constantly bounced around in the lineup. Given his pace, he's still on track for roughly 20 goals, like Samuelsson. Manny Malhotra's gone pointless for an entire month, but he also went pointless last year in the month of May and had just one point in April and May combined. He's still on track for his career season averages of a dozen goals and 30-odd points. No more needs to be said about how streaky Raffi Torres can be. The only one that kind of baffles me is Jeff Tambellini, who's getting tons of scoring chances, shoots the puck very well, but just can't find the net. Even very good goal scorers, like Phil Kessel and Marian Gaborik, are prone to stretches of zero production. Before Gaborik's 4-goal outburst vs. Toronto he went 8 games without a goal and Kessel is currently mired in a 7-game drought for the third time this season. Neither Samuelsson nor Raymond are at that talent level so naturally I shrug when they don't score for 7 games. It's expected. When the Sedins are in a 7-game pointless drought, however, then you have a problem... When Dan Hamhuis scored, The Province's Tony Gallagher tweeted: "Hamhuis' first in 25 games not terribly meaningful but after that long we're pretty sure he'll take it." What? Does Gallagher even realize that with Hamhuis' current pace he's on pace to tie or break his career high of 7? Does Gallagher even realize that Hamhuis averages about 25 points per season? (I'm writing that 38-point season off, same with Samuelsson's 30 goals. Don't think we'll see either post those totals again). No one's mistaking Hamhuis for Shea Weber. I'm pretty sure Hamhuis isn't bothered by the fact that he hasn't scored in 25 games because that's not his game and he knows it. He's a dependable defense-first player that's occasionally seeing powerplay time this year because for whatever reason, Vigneault refuses to play Ballard (using Tanev instead vs. Dallas) on the man advantage. But I know better than to argue with results. Vancouver fans and media have been absolutely spoiled this year with such a great team that can, on most nights, seemingly score at will. Once we lost 4 games (3 of which we have collected points) everyone panicked. I like a win as much as the next guy but let's not lose perspective here. Had the Canucks continued their 3-2-4 "slumping" pace, that's still 91 points over a full season, a playoff-bound total. <img src=""class="imageFloatLeftFramed">Okay, enough Canucks. Let's move ahead. I've had some time to digest the Evgeni Nabokov situation. The whole fiasco is a complete microcosm of why the Islanders still stink: management constantly overrating their value. What do I mean? I mean that Garth Snow thinks Long Island and a decrepit Nassau Coliseum is an attractive place to play, even though Manhattan and the much more storied Rangers are across town. This is a guy who was convinced he had a legitimate shot at signing Ilya Kovalchuk. That he thinks Nabokov, a player who has clearly earned enough money and is much more interested in a lengthy playoff run, would want to play for a team that's headed towards the lottery is lunacy. Is it even in the Islanders' best interests to play veterans and try to win games? The Islanders can't flip him back to Detroit (or any other team) for a pick because Nabokov would have to clear waivers again (he won't). Neither camp is moving and so the Islanders have suspended Nabokov. Dumb. The Islanders are supposed to be geared towards their youngsters. They don't need this distraction and what does this tell Islander players of their current situation when a guy who couldn't find a suitor during the offseason won't come play? Nabokov made it clear his intention was to play for Detroit, and from the information I've gathered, the Islanders didn't bother calling ahead and gauging Nabokov's interest in joining them. There were reports that Nabokov had hung up on Snow on a phone call (after he was claimed), but only because Nabokov didn't realize it was Snow. Does that sound as fishy to you as it does to me? It's not like Snow's brand new to the scene. Snow's quickly garnered a reputation as a very aggressive and sometimes confrontational GM. When he found out Nabokov wasn't coming you don't think he could've went into Bruce Boudreau-mode? If I were Nabokov, I'd hang up on him too. I'm not trying to start rumours or conspiracy theories, but that's just the way I envision it went down. By all means, Snow played within the rules, but that doesn't mean it's not a dumb move (see also: Lowe, Kevin and Penner, Dustin). An equally baffling move is Eugene Melnyk's decision to stick with Bryan Murray and Cory Clouston even though he's essentially admitted that the season's lost. Doesn't that make Murray and Clouston lame ducks? Melnyk may want to keep Murray beyond this season as a senior advisor but for a team that is in dire need of a new game plan, a new perspective, isn't that counter-intuitive? If the re-build starts now, wouldn't it better to bring in a new guy now and let him sell off the assets at the deadline for picks and prospects to establish his own foundation of the team? It seems as though the Sens are delaying the process of moving in a much-needed new direction. And by keeping Clouston, whatever motivational advantage Murray would've had by saying "we're not making any coaching changes, so suck it up and play like he wants you to play" has simply disappeared. I mean, what kind of affect would that have on a guy like Alex Kovalev, who on some nights really looks like he couldn't care less? Or Sergei Gonchar, who is probably really regretting turning down the Pens' two-year offer. On the other hand, you could argue that by doing so you could really tell the difference between players who are self-motivated and those who aren't and need to be shown the door ASAP. Some players may simply wish to play hard because they're looking for that big deal in the summer (Chris Philips, Kovalev) but it's kind of an interesting way to see which players respond and which don't. It's not on the record, but there's a belief that there are only two untouchables on the current roster: Daniel Alfredsson (declining) and Erik Karlsson (stud). It might change over the course of the next two months. Sometimes, you just never know with Eugene Melnyk.
  3. We're doing the happy dance at Number Crunching this week after the Canucks completed a successful 4-2 first round series victory over the Los Angeles Kings but before we talk about Vancouver's next dance partner, we take a look back at the best numbers from round one in the Canucks/Kings series and in the NHL. NO EARLY BIRD SPECIAL <img src="" class="imageFloatLeftFramed">Conventional wisdom and statistics suggest that teams scoring the first goal in a game will win more often than not but if the Canucks/Kings series was any indication, then perhaps scoring the opening goal isn't all that it's cracked up to be. In the six-game series between the Canucks and Kings, the team scoring first accounted for just one victory - that was Vancouver's 7-2 win in Game 5 at GM Place - while the team trailing first won five of the six games. It certainly isn't a statistic backed up by the rest of the teams so far in the playoffs. Through playoff games played on Sunday in the first round, if you take out games from the Canucks/Kings series, teams that trail first in a game have a record of only 14-24 (19-25 if you add the Canucks/Kings series results). The Canucks are a perfect 3-0 when trailing first in a game and are tied atop that category in wins with the Boston Bruins (3-2) through Sunday. While it's not a statistic the Canucks will want to tempt fate with in the next series, it should be noted that last year the Pittsburgh Penguins led all playoff teams with six victories (6-4) when trailing first and they went on to capture the Stanley Cup. SHORT-COMINGS <img src="" class="imageFloatRightFramed">The Canucks set or equaled plenty of positive team records during their first round series against the Kings but one they'd like to forget about is the number of goals surrendered on the penalty kill. The 10 goals surrendered by Vancouver's PK not only leads all playoffs teams through Sunday's games but equaled a record for most power play goals surrendered by the Canucks in a single playoff series. That mark was initially set back in 1989 in Vancouver's Division Semi-Final series against the Calgary Flames. The Canucks are now already half way to the franchise mark for most power play goals ever surrendered in an entire playoff season. That mark of 20 was set back in 1994 during the Canucks run to the Stanley Cup. During the 2009 playoffs, Vancouver surrendered just a total of nine power play goals in 10 playoff games played. PREVENTION IS KEY <img src="" class="imageFloatLeftFramed">Observers of the Canucks/Kings series might note that Roberto Luongo was not as big a reason the Canucks won the series as perhaps in other playoff series in the past but that may have had more to do with the fact his team was much better this year at preventing the number of shots he faced. The Canucks surrendered 166 shots in six games to the Kings during their first round playoff series, an average of 27.7 shots per game. That total is the fewest average number of shots per game in a playoff series since Roberto Luongo joined the Canucks. The following is a breakdown of the average shots against in each playoff series the Canucks have played in since Luongo joined the team. Note, however, that some of the numbers may be skewed because of lengthy overtime games in certain series. 2010 WQF vs Los Angeles: 166 shots against in six games - 27.7 average shots against per game 2009 WSF vs Chicago: 175 shots against in six games - 29.2 average shots against per game 2009 WQF vs St. Louis: 131 shots against in four games - 32.8 average shots against per game 2007 WSF vs Anaheim: 198 shots against in five games - 39.6 average shots against per game 2007 WQF vs Dallas: 240 shots against in seven games - 34.3 average shots against per game NUMBER CRUNCHING PLAYOFF PERFORMER OF ROUND ONE <img src="" class="imageFloatRightFramed">Mikael Samuelsson: Seven goals and 11 points in six games played. What more is there to say about Mikael Samuelsson that hasn't already been said? Samuelsson was Mr. Fantastic and Mr. Consistency in round one for the Canucks and came just shy of setting several new individual player records as a Canuck in the process. He tied Pavel Bure's record for most goals in a single playoff series with seven (set back in 1995 vs St. Louis) and his consecutive streak of goals in five straight games from Game 1 to 5 tied for the longest playoff goal streak in Canucks history initially set by Cliff Ronning in 1991. Samuelsson finished one point shy of a team record for most points in a single playoff series (record is 12 by Pavel Bure in 1995 vs St. Louis) and his 28 shots in the series were just two shy of Bure's record for most shots in a single playoff series (record is 30 by Pavel Bure in 1995 vs St. Louis). (Note: The 1995 playoff series versus St. Louis where Bure set those team records took seven games to complete). Samuelsson's 11 points and counting is already one point more than any Canucks player had all of last year in the playoffs. Henrik and Daniel Sedin shared the team lead in playoff points in 2009 with 10 each. PLAYOFFS SUPER STATS PACK (UPDATED THROUGH ROUND ONE) Spewing statistics can make anybody sound smart (I wouldn't write this blog if it didn't!). As a gift to Number Crunching's loyal fans (yes, all three of you out there) here are some stats you can share with your friends to make you sound like an expert too: The Canucks' record when... <img src="" class="imageFloatLeftFramed">A defenceman scores: 3-0 Mikael Samuelsson scores: 3-2 Daniel Sedin scores: 3-1 Pavol Demitra scores: 2-0 Steve Bernier scores: 2-1 They score two-or-more power play goals: 1-0 They surrender two-or-more power play goals: 2-2 They don’t allow a 1st period goal: 1-1 They don’t allow a 3rd period goal: 2-1 Don’t allow a power play goal: 1-0 When getting more power play chances than opponent: 2-1 When getting fewer power play chances than opponent: 1-1 When getting equal power play chances than opponent: 1-0 Highs and Lows... <img src="" class="imageFloatRightFramed">Canucks Most - One Period Goals: 4 (APR.21.10 at LAK, third period) Goals allowed: 3 (APR.19.10 at LAK, second period) Shots: 17 (twice - most recent APR.21.10 at LAK, third period) Shots Allowed: 16 (APR.25.10 at LAK, first period) Canucks Fewest - One Period Shots: 4 (APR.17.10 vs LAK, first period) Shots Allowed: 2 (APR.15.10 vs LAK, third period) Canucks Most - One Game Goals: 7 (APR.23.10 vs LAK) Goals Allowed: 5 (APR.19.10 at LAK) Shots: 44 (APR.15.10 vs LAK) Shots Allowed: 32 (APR.25.10 at LAK) Penalty Minutes: 22 (APR.23.10 vs LAK) Penalty Minutes Opp: APR.23.10 vs LAK) Canucks Fewest - One Game Goals: 2 (APR.17.10 vs LAK) Goals Allowed: 2 (three times - most recent APR.25.10 at LAK) Shots: 22 (APR.25.10 at LAK) Shots Allowed: 26 (twice - most recent APR.23.10 vs LAK) Penalty Minutes: 6 (APR.19.10 at LAK) Penalty Minutes Opp: 6 (APR.25.10 at LAK) Canucks Largest - One Game Margin of victory: 5 (APR.23.10 vs LAK. 7-2) Margin of defeat: 2 (APR.19.10 at LAK, 3-5) <img src="" class="imageFloatLeftFramed">Individual Most - One Game Goals: 2 (three times - Mikael Samuelsson 2x, Steve Bernier) Goals Allowed: 2 (Michal Handzus - APR.19.10 at LAK) Assists: 3 (Daniel Sedin - APR.21.10 at LAK) Assists Allowed: 3 (twice - Jack Johnson, Drew Doughty) Points: 3 (three times - Daniel Sedin, Mikael Samuelsson, Pavol Demitra) Points Allowed: 4 (Drew Doughty - APR.19.10 at LAK) Saves: 30 (Roberto Luongo - APR.25.10 at LAK) Saves, Opp.: 41 (Jonathan Quick - APR.15.10 vs LAK)
  4. This week's inaugural playoff edition of Number Crunching explores the statistical oddities from the first week of action in the NHL post-season and looks into the wacky tacky officiating from the first two games of the Canucks/Kings series that leads us to wonder out loud if in fact the NHL really does have a bias against the Canucks. FLYING SAUCERS? OR JUST ZEBRAS ON THE SAUCE? <img src= class="imageFloatLeftFramed">Now, we're not saying there's some sort of conspiracy theory going on with the officiating in the Canucks/Kings first round series...oh wait, actually that's precisely what we're saying and we've got the numbers to back it up. Through the first two games of every 2010 playoff series (with the exception of the Nashville/Chicago series that had played just one game as of this writing on Sunday morning), the Canucks lead the League when it comes to penalty minutes with 31 in two games - an average of 16.5 per game. That's three more penalty minutes per game higher than the next highest penalized teams in the NHL playoffs - the Buffalo Sabres and the Boston Bruins who are tied for second place with an average of 13.0 penalty minutes per game. The Kings, meanwhile, have the second lowest average penalty minutes per game at just 9.0 - one minute on average more than the San Jose Sharks who bring up the rear after two games played with 8.0 penalty minutes per game. The Canucks/Kings series, through two games played, also has the highest differential in average penalty minute accessed to the two teams. Below is a breakdown of the penalty minute discrepancy in each series (minus the NSH/CHI series) after the first two games: MTL (9.5) vs WSH (9.5) = 0.0 BOS (13.0) vs BUF (13.0) = 0.0 DET (9.0) vs PHX (10.0) = 1.0 OTT (11.5) vs PIT (9.5) = 2.0 COL (11.0) vs SJS (8.0) = 3.0 PHI (10.0) vs NJD (13.0) = 3.0 LAK (9.0) vs VAN (16.5) = 7.5 *Bracketed numbers indicate respective team's average penalty minute per game through two games played Gary and Colin, Canucks Nation awaits your rebuttal. OH CANADA <img src= class="imageFloatRightFramed">With the Senators, Canadiens and Canucks all winning their opening playoff games this season, it marked the first time since the 1998 playoffs that every Canadian team in the post-season all won their opening playoff games. That year all three Canadian entrants - the Senators, Canadiens, and Oilers - entered the post-season as heavy underdogs (the Senators were an eighth seed in the East while the Canadiens and Oilers were seventh seeds in their respective conferences) but all managed to pull off Game 1 upsets in a manor resembling how this year's playoffs began for the Canadian teams. All three of those respective 1998 opening games involving Canadian teams were decided by one goal (just like this year) and two of the three contests were decided by overtime (also just like this year). The Senators knocked off the Devils 2-1 in overtime, the Canadiens knocked off the Penguins 3-2 in overtime, and the Oilers took a 3-2 regulation victory over the Avalanche. And how's this for an omen? That year, all three Canadian teams managed to win their series and advance to the second round. In fact, 1998 is the last time that all Canadian entrants in the playoffs managed to advance to Round 2. Unfortunately, all three would meet their demise by the second round that post-season. OPENING NIGHT OVERTIME CURSE? <img src= class="imageFloatLeftFramed">For the superstitious types, you may want to ignore this entry. Thursday marked the 13th time in Canucks team history that they have opened a playoff series with an overtime game. Historically, the Canucks haven't fared well in playoff series that have opened with a game requiring extra time. Win or lose in that first game, Vancouver's all-time record in series where Game 1 has gone to overtime is just 3-9. The numbers aren't much better even if the Canucks open the series with an overtime victory in Game 1 although it is slightly less troubling than what the aforementioned overall mark is. The Canucks are 2-4 in series when they win Game 1 in overtime. The last time the Canucks opened a series with an overtime game was back in 2007 with that memorable quadruple overtime game against the Dallas Stars. The Canucks prevailed 5-4 that night thanks to a 72-save effort by Roberto Luongo who was making his NHL playoff debut. The Canucks would go on to win the series four games to three. NUMBER CRUNCHING PLAYOFF PERFORMER OF THE WEEK <img src= class="imageFloatRightFramed">Mikael Samuelsson: Three goals in two games played. The Canucks brought in Mikael Samuelsson to be a key performer come playoff time and he certainly has lived up to that billing in the first two games of the series. Samuelsson scored twice on opening night, including the overtime winner in Game 1, and added his third goal of these young playoffs in Game 2 in a losing effort. Samuelsson's three goals is already more than halfway to his entire goal output from the 2009 playoffs when he recorded five goals in 23 games in the Red Wings Stanley Cup run that ended with a Game 7 loss to Pittsburgh Penguins in the Finals. Samuelsson is also halfway to establishing a new personal points record in a single series. His previous high was six points (0-6-6) set during the 2007 Western Conference Final against the Anaheim Ducks. Statistics and other information appearing in this blog are for entertainment purposes only and a sense of humour is recommended when reading. E-mail the author here or follow him on Twitter.
  5. 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.
  6. No one can accuse the Canucks of giving up. The Avs struck quickly, with Matt Duchene and budding power forward Chris Stewart scoring just 28 seconds apart. Duchene added another powerplay marker 13:26 into the first period to give them a 3-0 lead heading into the first intermission. Roberto Luongo, who didn't mince any words about his first period performance, said the intermission was the turning point: "once we got back in the locker room, we said 'just keep playing.' We have the confidence. We've done it before." And, boy, did they ever. <img src=""class="imageFloatLeftFramed"> Mikael Samuelsson opened the scoring for the Canucks, but a turnover by Mason Raymond led to a Peter Mueller score for the Avs to regain their three-goal lead. Mueller has looked absolutely rejuvenated recently after his trade from Phoenix in which Don Maloney publicly stated that it was Mueller who wanted out. Interestingly enough, this is the second Breck High School, Minnesota player that did not want to stay with the organization. The first, of course, was Blake Wheeler, now in Boston. The Canucks responded quickly, however, with Samuelsson completing his hat trick before the end of the period, giving him 27 goals on the year, 3 away from 30. In Samuelsson's past two season with the Red Wings, he TOTALED 30 goals. Needless to say, I think Samuelsson's trying to prove a point to Bengt-Ake Gustafsson for leaving him off the Swedish team. Vancouver just keeps reaping those rewards, and that's not mentioning Ryan Kesler's hot streak of late. The Canucks have benefited from getting balanced scoring from three solid lines this year and they may very well finish with three 30-goal scorers (Henrik Sedin, Samuelsson, Alex Burrows), three 20-goal scorers (Daniel Sedin, Mason Raymond, Kesler), a 100-point man (H. Sedin), two 70-point men (D. Sedin, Kesler), and three 50-point men (Burrows, Samuelsson, Raymond). Alex Edler and Christian Ehrhoff may finish the season averaging more than half a point per game and Luongo could reach 40 wins, the first time he's done so since his first season in Vancouver. No doubt that the comeback was entertaining to watch. There was a time when I was used to turning off Canucks games after they trailed because in the past they've always had a tendency to give up, and even when they had the lead, I've seen them blow too many of them. The Canucks' tenth comeback win when trailing after two periods is the most in the league, a winning percentage of .370. While the act is commendable, it's a little alarming to see that the Canucks have trailed after the second 27 times (10-16-1). Out of the top ten teams in that category that are playoff-bound (if they started today), Washington (17), Chicago (22), Colorado (17), LA (26), Pittsburgh (26), and San Jose (18), have all played less games than Vancouver in those types of situations. The Canucks are a third-best 19-3 when leading after the first and 25-1 when leading after two. They cannot play the same game last night in the playoffs because the margin for error is much smaller. Teams are going to be aggressive and staging a comeback when trialing after two periods will be that much more difficult. Credit to the Canucks for playing hard for 40 minutes, but let's not forget that the Avs also had 13 turnovers. You could argue, however, that those numbers really don't mean anything. Washington and San Jose, two teams that rarely trail after two periods, had disappointing playoff runs last year and San Jose's playoff woes are particularly well documented. For Chicago and Pittsburgh, on the other hand, to say that they've been successful lately is a huge understatement. Both teams are considered to be Cup contenders. I've noted before that should the Canucks wish to make the playoffs they have to finish their road trip with a winning record and even if they lose to the Coyotes tonight. The Canucks are now 18-16-1 on the road (started 10-11-1) and despite a small four point difference between them and the second place Avs, they've pretty much locked up the division title (woooo!!!!). Despite not having played at home for over a month, the Canucks' 23 home wins is still third best in the conference. With a strong home record and 10 of their last 16 games at home, the Avs would be hard-pressed to catch up especially if they play like they did last night. Let's make it road win #19 tonight.
  7. 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.
  8. The turn of the calendar provides an opportunity for some reflection so this week's column (our seventh edition for those keeping count...ever wonder why I never numbered them before? Seems a bit silly) looks back on the best of December, reveals the true meaning of a New Year's Bash, and counts down a list of those we have forgotten over the past decade. Also, read on to find out who takes home this week's coveted Number Crunching Player of the Week Award. (Published Sunday, January 3rd, 2010 - despite what the Entry Date may suggest). 10-4 ON ONE GREAT DECEMBER <img src= class="imageFloatLeftFramed">Thursday's improbable come-from-behind win over the St. Louis Blues not only ended 2009 in style for the Vancouver Canucks, it also helped the Canucks to close out the calendar year with a record-setting month. With the victory, the Canucks finished the month of December with an impressive 10-4-1 record marking the first time in team history the Canucks have ever reached double digits in the wins column in December. Their previous best December came during the 1992.93 season when they went 9-1-1 during the final month of the calendar year. It also marked the first time the Canucks have hit a double digit win total in a single month since March 2009. Last season, Vancouver's record during the month of December was 6-7-1. A VERY "GOD JUL" FOR THE TWINS <img src= class="imageFloatRightFramed">December was not only a record-setting month for the Canucks as a team, it was one to remember for both Daniel and Henrik Sedin who each set new personal career-highs for points in a single month. Daniel netted 22 points (9-13-22) in 15 contests during December surpassing his previous career-high of 20 points in a single month (also 15 games) which he set back in March 2007. The only Canuck to record even greater numbers in December was Henrik who amassed a staggering 25 points (5-20-25) in 15 games tying him for fifth spot for most productive month in Canucks history with Alex Mogilny who also had 25 points (12-13-25) back in February 1996 (albeit Mogilny played in two less games). Henrik's previous high for most points in a single month was 19 (7-12-19) recorded back in the 15 games he played in March 2009. The record for most points in a single month by a Canuck is still held by Stan Smyl, who netted 31 points (10-21-31) in 16 games played during March 1983. NEW YEAR'S BASH INDEED <img src= class="imageFloatLeftFramed">Nashville may be Music City, but apparently the best hits these days emanate from Dallas. According to the stats trackers at the American Airlines Center, the Canucks nailed their opponents with a season-high 40 hits (their previous high was 27 achieved twice earlier this season) in their first game of 2010 on Saturday afternoon only to be out-done by the hometown Stars who responded by hitting the Canucks back 49 times - marking the most hits a Canucks opponent has netted this season (eight more than Carolina's 41 back on December 5th). The 89 combined hits between the Canucks and Stars also marked a season-high in a single game for the Canucks this season. The previous high for most combined hits in a single game for Vancouver this season was 63. Guess where that game took place? Dallas (November 6th). THE BEST OF HORDI <img src= class="imageFloatRightFramed">Number Crunching would like to congratulate forward Darcy Hordichuk who appeared in his 400th career NHL game earlier this week on Tuesday in Phoenix. In honour of the 29-year old's milestone mark, Number Crunching presents the top four Hordi stats of the season: 1. Canucks record when Hordichuk records a point: 2-0-0 (that one was easy!) 2. Canucks record with Hordichuk in the lineup: 17-9-1 3. Canucks record when Hordichuk gets into a fight: 3-3-0 4. Canucks record when Hordichuk records a shot on goal: 3-1-1 WE HARDLY KNEW YE <img src= class="imageFloatLeftFramed">Inspired (or perhaps uninspired) by Mathieu Schneider's short-lived career as a Vancouver Canuck - which unofficially came to an end this past week after just 17 games and five points - Number Crunching goes through the history books to pick out this past decade's top five We Hardly Knew Ye Canucks: <img src= class="imageFloatRightFramed">5. Magnus Arvedson: 8-7-15 in 41 GP, 2003.04 After six seasons playing with the Ottawa Senators which included a Selke Trophy nomination in 1998.99, GM Brian Burke managed to lure the then-32 year old free agent away from our nation's capital and to the West Coast proclaiming him to be not only a great defensive forward but also a solid secondary scorer as well. Things didn't quite work out that way for Arvedson. He struggled early to put up points and just when he started to look more comfortable with his new team, he suffered a knee injury in a game against the Washington Capitals that proved to be career-ending. <img src= class="imageFloatLeftFramed">4. Marc Chouinard: 2-2-4 in 42 GP / Tommi Santala: 1-5-6 in 30 GP, 2006.07 A pair of Dave Nonis acquisitions from the 2006.07 season share the fourth spot on our list. First, there was Marc Chouinard who had just come off a career-high 30 point season with the Wild and was supposed to be the answer to all of Vancouver's third line worries. He managed just two goals and four points before being placed on waivers and banished to the AHL. He hasn't been back in the NHL since. At last report, he was plying his trade with the Cologne Sharks in Germany. At the same time, there was Tommi Santala - heralded as the best fourth line centre money could buy. A combination of healthy scratches, injuries and time spent in the minors limited Santala to just 30 regular season games with the Canucks. He somehow did manage to crack the lineup for one playoff game that season. After 2006.07, Santala went home to Finland. <img src= class="imageFloatRightFramed">3. Mats Sundin: 9-19-28 in 41 GP, 2008.09 Well we all knew this was coming didn't we? It's not that Sundin's stint as a Canuck was terrible but for the former Maple Leaf, the buzz was bigger than his bite. It took until mid-December before Sundin officially put his name on the dotted line but it took even longer for the player the Canucks thought they would be getting to finally show up. Sundin looked slow and sluggish to begin his Canuck career and when he finally did find his game in the playoffs (eight points in eight games), he wasn't able to help extend Vancouver's season beyond the second round. After a brief flirtation this past summer, Sundin officially announced his retirement prior to the start of the 2009.10 season. His time in Vancouver may have been short-lived but he did set one unofficial record for selling the most number of jerseys with a shelf-life of less than four months. <img src= class="imageFloatLeftFramed">2. Steve McCarthy: 2-4-6 in 51 GP, 2005.06 It had all the makings of a great story: local boy returns to play for his hometown team. What could go wrong? Everything as it turns out for Steve McCarthy. The Trail, BC native was a point producing defenceman during his days in junior playing with the Edmonton (later Kootenay) Ice but never did seem to find that part of his game in his first five NHL seasons in Chicago. The Canucks hoped bringing him back to his home province would spark a resurgence of that offensive flair but that would not be the case. McCarthy lasted just 51 games in a Canucks uniform before being dealt to the Thrashers. Upon his departure, he made some less than kind remarks about the Canucks organization mostly concerning the relationship between team captain Markus Naslund and Todd Bertuzzi. McCarthy spent the 2008.09 season in the KHL before returning to North America this season where he is currently playing with the Chicago Wolves of the AHL. <img src= class="imageFloatRightFramed">1. Martin Brochu: 0-3-0 record with a 4.17 GAA in 6 GPI, 2001.02 After opting not to re-sign veteran netminder Bob Essensa during the off-season, GM Brian Burke decided in the early part of the season that the best backup to pair with the still relatively fresh-faced Dan Cloutier was the immortal Martin Brochu, who had all of two NHL games worth of experience prior to joining the Canucks. Needless to say, the Brochu era in Vancouver didn't last very long. The Anjou, Quebec native made just six appearances in a Canucks uniform (clearly he didn't last long on most nights as he racked up just 216 overall minutes) and had a .856 save percentage. He was soon after replaced by Peter Skudra, who lasted parts of two seasons with the Canucks. After his short Canuck stint, Brochu played just 32 more total minutes in the NHL. NUMBER CRUNCHING PLAYER OF THE WEEK <img src= class="imageFloatLeftFramed">Mikael Samuelsson: Two goals and three points in three games The week did not start off very well for the veteran Swede who learned last Sunday that he won't be participating in the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in February after being left off Team Sweden. The snub was clearly taken personally by Samuelsson who made some rather off-colour, although very straight-from-the-heart remarks regarding not being selected. Team Sweden's loss was the Canucks' gain, however, as Samuelsson seemed to use the disappointment from being left behind as motivation. He snapped a 14-game goal drought with his tally against the Coyotes on Tuesday (his first goal since November 28th versus Edmonton) and added another marker on Thursday helping his team recover from a 3-0 deficit for a win in St. Louis. Samuelsson ended the week riding a four-game point streak - his longest since a five-game streak back in late October. CRUNCHED BY THE NUMBERS <img src= class="imageFloatRightFramed">Rick Rypien: Zero points and 15 penalty minutes in three games Ignore the zeroes in the respective points columns because we all know Rick Rypien's primary focus isn't to provide offence, but the feisty forward from Coleman, Alberta nets the dubious distinction this week for his match penalty on New Year's Eve in St. Louis. We figure Rick's to blame for the whole hand-taping incident since referees never make mistakes, right? For the record, the 15 minutes worth of penalties in that contest for Rypien marked a regular season career-high in a single game for Rypien. Last season in the playoffs, he did manage to rack up 24 penalty minutes in a single game on May 2nd - Game 2 of Vancouver's Western Conference Semi-Final series against the Chicago Blackhawks in which his team lost 6-3. On that night, Rypien earned a 10-minute misconduct just over six minutes into the game and then earned another 10-minute misconduct in the final frame to go with a pair of minor penalties.
  9. 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 Larenzo Jensen, with files from AP Photo / The Canadian Press, Getty Images, TSN and Yahoo! Sports
  10. <img src="" class="imageFloatLeftFramed">Rogers Sportsnet Canucks game host @sportsnetmurph is reporting center Ryan Johnson has been placed on injured reserve, which means his foot injury will keep him out of the lineup for at least one week. This brings the Canucks active roster down from the maximum of 23 to 22 players. With Johnson on injured reserve, this will enable the Canucks to call-up a forward from the Manitoba Moose with Michael Grabner as the leading candidate. However, the Canucks may be in no rush to call anybody up given the Canucks have won two straight games and Darcy Hordichuk's strong play last night. In 8:03 of ice time, Hordichuk had a team-high six hits with the Raymond, Bernier, Kesler, Glass, and Bieksa next with two hits each and drew a penalty in the third period on Steve Staios by driving hard to the net. Since being sent down on December 19, Grabner has yet to get into a game as the Moose just finished a one week Christmas break. The Moose host the Abbotsford Heat tonight and Grabner is expected to be in the lineup playing on a line with Marty Murray and Matt Pettinger. Although Grabner's demotion was not officially deemed as for conditioning purposes by the Canucks, if it were the Canucks probably would want him to get into a few more games before a call-up. Mikael Samuelsson will have to pickup his play or he will find himself on the third line soon. Samuelsson has one point in five games and is simply not scoring enough for a top-six forward or making contributions in other areas.
  11. 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.