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  1. With just one Canucks playoff game to dissect this week, Number Crunching takes a page out of the playbook of our road warriors and gives Game 1 the full court press with the best stats from the Round 2 series opener. And because we're just so darned nice out here on the West Coast, we decide to give a shout out to a long-lost friend who just couldn't be here with us. BALANCING ACT <img src= class="imageFloatLeftFramed">By combining on Vancouver's fifth and final goal of Game 1 against the Blackhawks, Michael Grabner and Rick Rypien became the 17th and 18th players, respectively, to tally a point during the 2010 playoff run for the Canucks - giving the Canucks the same number of players with a point they had in their entire 2009 playoff run. Through all Game 1's played in second round (i.e. excluding games played on Sunday), Vancouver not only leads all currently active playoff teams in goals with 30 (tied with the Pittsburgh Penguins) but their 18 players with a point also leads all teams still in the post-season. The Sharks and the Canadiens are right behind the Canucks with 17 players each with a point so far in the 2010 post-season, while the Blackhawks bring up the rear with just 14 players to have recorded a point. The Canucks also saw Kyle Wellwood and Michael Grabner become the 13th and 14th players, respectively, to tally a goal for them in this year's playoffs - giving them the lead among all active playoff teams in that category as well. The Red Wings and Penguins have the next highest total with 13 goal scorers each while the Flyers have the fewest among teams still alive with only eight different goal scorers. Last season, the 2009 Stanley Cup Champions Pittsburgh Penguins finished the playoffs with 16 different goal scorers and 20 different skaters who recorded at least one point. PLAYING KEEP-AWAY <img src= class="imageFloatRightFramed">A big reason the Canucks managed to keep the Blackhawks' potent offense largely in check during Game 1 was because of their puck control. The Canucks committed just four giveaways in Saturday's contest - the fewest so far for them in the 2010 post-season. The low number of giveaways was actually a trend for the Canucks during the regular season at the United Center as well. In their two regular season contests played in Chicago, the Canucks combined for just five total giveaways. Vancouver's record during the regular season when they committed five-or-fewer giveaways in a game was 19-8-2. During their first round series against the Kings, the Canucks committed an average of 10.7 giveaways per game - the most being 16 (Game 6) and the least being seven (Game 5). ONE AND DONE <img src= class="imageFloatLeftFramed">Roberto Luongo had one streak entering Game 1 on Saturday that he was more than happy to see come to an end. Luongo gave up just a single goal to the Blackhawks in the series opener snapping a streak of 10 consecutive games where he had given up multiple goals-per-game dating back to April 1 in the regular season. The streak of 10 games where he had personally given up two-or-more goals was the third longest single season streak for the netminder since he joined the Canucks in the 2006.07 season. Luongo's longest streak as a Canuck where he gave up multiple goals each game was 14 games from January 15, 2009 to February 24, 2009. Followers of the Canucks will remember that span took place upon Luongo's return from missing 24 games with a groin injury. His second longest streak was 11 games from January 8, 2008 to February 5, 2008. Luongo's longest streak of multiple goal games surrendered during the 2009.10 regular season was six games. He suffered through two such streaks during the regular campaign - first from January 9 to January 21 and again from January 25 to February 9. ON THIS DAY IN STANLEY CUP HISTORY (MAY 2) <img src= class="imageFloatRightFramed">Number Crunching is a fully fledged member of Canucks Nation but that doesn't mean we don't welcome fans from across the NHL to read this blog. Today, we offer this little shout out to any Number Crunching fans reading this from Toronto. We know your beloved blue-and-white was not invited to this year's playoff party (your invitation must have been accidentally sent to Boston) but here's something that will turn that frown upside down: 1967: With the oldest lineup in Final history, the Toronto Maple Leafs defeated the Montreal Canadiens 3-1 in Game Six to win the 1967 Stanley Cup. The Leafs' roster included 42-year-old goalie Johnny Bower and 41-year-old defenseman Allan Stanley as well as seven others at least 30 years old. Toronto center Red Kelly played his 65th game in Final competition, setting a Stanley Cup record later tied by Montreal's Henri Richard. (Courtesy of Total Stanley Cup - NHL 2010 Playoff Media Guide) 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.
  2. <img src="" class="imageFloatLeftFramed">Jersey change? It was brought to our attention by in blog posts on both December 1, 2009 and December 3, 2009 that the Canucks may be switching to their modernized stick-in-rink jersey as their home jersey for the 2010-11 NHL campaign. It's interesting to note that on Sunday at the team's annual SuperSkills event, Team Blue wore the team's third jersey featuring the modernized stick-in-rink as the main crest and the Johnny V logo on the shoulders as opposed to their home jersey with the orca on the front and the modernized stick-in-rink on the shoulders. If something isn't up, it's a bit weird that the Canucks would choose to wear their thirds as opposed to their home jersey. Needless to say, we know which one the Canucks like better as an organization. However, the Canucks mascot Fin and the player's kids were wearing the home jersey. Maybe it's an attempt to throw the fans off and make the switch less obvious, but also ever so slightly hinting towards a possible switch. The colours of the Canucks are awesome, but the logo needs to change. The orca logo was designed with blue-silver-red in mind, not the blue-white-green of our current jersey. <img src="" class="imageFloatRightFramed">Vigneault gets it right in the third I don't like to question the coach's decision because he is the one getting paid the big bucks to do it, but it completely puzzled me as to why the plan Wednesday night was scratch Kyle Wellwood, move Steve Bernier to the second line, move Demitra to centre on the third line, and drop Samuelsson down to the third line. Glass has been a great story this year, coming to training camp this year, he was expected to be with the Manitoba Moose all season long and probably won't even get a sniff at the NHL with the Canucks. He defied the odds made the team and has set career highs in every statistical category. However, Glass is not a third line player; he has four goals and five assists all season. Glass is a banger and is not going to snipe any passes he gets from Demitra. News broke late that Rick Rypien had the stomach flu and they could not get Ryan Johnson of long-term injured reserve in time, Wellwood had his spot in the lineup salvaged. Vigneault puts the fourth line player in Glass on the third line and puts the third line player in Wellwood on the fourth line. Puzzling. The lines of Raymond-Kesler-Bernier and Glass-Demitra-Samuelsson all looked lost out there especially Glass. Thankfully, Vigneault saw that and reunited the Raymond-Kesler-Samuelsson unit and formed the dream third line of many Canucks fans of Demitra-Wellwood-Bernier. Wellwood's played with Steve Bernier for the most part in their times as Canucks and Wellwood has displayed the ability to put up points when put with skilled players. Raymond, Kesler, and Samuelsson are a line that have been together all season long. It ain't broken, why fix it? The second and third lines didn't generate the goal to tie the game, but they were a threat to score and put on pressure in the offensive zone. Tonight's going to be an easy decision on whose going to come out of the lineup for Ryan Johnson's expected return. Tanner Glass, Jannik Hansen, and Darcy Hordichuk then didn't see a single shift five on five in the third period, so it's easy to say one of them will come out. <img src="" class="imageFloatLeftFramed">Nylander treatment for Laraque News broke this morning that the Montreal Canadiens will part with veteran enforcer Georges Laraque because head coach Jacques Martin has lost confidence in Laraque and thinks the team will be better off without Laraque. At this moment, it doesn't appear Laraque will be placed on waivers or traded, but rather will be getting the "Michael Nylander treatment." Which is we will continue to pay your salary, but you are not welcomed to be near the team at all and you can just sit at home all day. I personally believe that you need an enforcer in the NHL despite the fact this is the post-lockout era. Just take a look at last night for the Canadiens, Carey Price gets run over by Cam Janssen (or you could say Janssen got run over by Price), but would that have happened had Laraque been in the lineup? I would like to lean towards no. Take the Washington Capitals for example, who are without an enforcer, star defenceman Mike Green gets hit from behind by David Koci and gets blindsided by Colton Orr, and their captain Alex Ovechkin almost had to fight Steve Downie of the Tampa Bay Lightning. From a previous blog post of mine: Having an enforcer is important and look no further than the last four Stanley Cup champions coming out of the lockout. Last year, Eric Godard was there to serve and protect for the Pittsburgh Penguins. In 2008, there was Aaron Downey on the Detroit Red Wings. In 2007, there was of course George Parros and Shawn Thornton on Brian Burke's Anaheim Ducks. In 2006, there was Jesse Boulerice for the Carolina Hurricanes, albeit for four months of the season before being traded as part of the Doug Weight deal. Questionable hits so far this year in the NHL this season have also been committed to mostly teams that have lacked a heavyweight enforcer. Both Jarkko Ruutu and Alexander Ovechkin's respective hits on Patrick Kaleta of the Buffalo Sabres, David Koci on Washington's Mike Green, Ovechkin on Tim Gleason of Carolina, Mike Richards on David Booth of Florida, Carcillo's cheapshot on Matt Bradley of Washington in a fight, or Georges Laraques knee on Niklas Kronwall of Detroit. Oh noes! This briefly appeared on the Ice Chips page: The whole Canucks team is injured and will be missing tonight's game!
  3. <img src="" class="imageFloatLeftFramed" width="320" height="240">I was disappointed when I found out that Darcy Hordichuk would be scratched in favour of Rick Rypien because in my eyes he's been invisible all year long. I made it my goal to watch Rypien carefully and critically Monday night. My assessment is in and Rypien should not be in the lineup over Hordichuk and Hansen. As a whole our fourth line was owned by Buffalo's. The line was benched for the entire third period and Ryan Johnson only got shifts on the penalty kill. Individually, Rypien was invisible all night. As the team's supposed energy player I expect him to be banging bodies when he's not fighting. On Monday night, he was credited with one hit. That is simply not enough for your energy forward. By my count, he got hit at by the opposition more than he made attempts to take runs at people. If he's not hitting, then Rypien just becomes the one-dimensional goon. If he's going to be a one-dimension goon, I would rather have a legit heavyweight in the lineup like Calgary's Brian McGrattan or Minnesota's Derek Boogaard who can intimidate the opposition. Let's face it; Rypien is not going to be intimidating anybody on the ice with his 5'11" and 170 pound frame other than the Darcy Tuckers of the world. Luongo's words after Rypien defeated the 6'7" Boris Valabik in a fight: "I've never been so pumped up after a fight in my whole life," said Luongo. "I was happy for him and he deserves it. He's a great guy. Obviously great fight, so it was pretty impressive." It's great that Rypien can bring energy through his fights, but when he's not in fights, he's invisible man out there. This season, Rypien's established himself as one of the best, if not the best middleweights in the league. As a result, it is going to be hard for him to find a dance partner unless he steps out of his weight class like St. Louis' Cam Janssen and start fighting the heavyweights. People like to bring up the fact that between Rypien and Hordichuk, Rypien has the better offensive game. But it's the fourth line, I don't expect them to score. I expect them to bring energy, emotion, and strong forecheck. If they can chip in the odd goal, great. But it's energy, emotion, and a strong forecheck first. Hordichuk is everything Rypien isn't. Hordichuk's constantly dumping the puck in and flying in on the forecheck to bang bodies. In my eyes, Hordichuk's the guy that makes the fourth line go. On Saturday night, the fourth line unit with Hordichuk and Glass on the wings and Ryan Johnson in the middle was as effective as I've seen the fourth line all year long. The line was fast; they got the puck in deep, and were on the forecheck banging bodies almost instantaneously. For the first time, we finally saw some vintage Ryan Johnson, something we haven't seen at all since he signed in Vancouver. On Monday, you replace Hordichuk with Rypien and the line seemed lost out there. There was absolutely no forecheck from the line and they were more often than not trapped in the Vancouver end of the ice by Buffalo's fourth line. Rypien had a bout with the stomach flu and lost weight from it, but why is he in the lineup if that's stopping him from playing his game? A guy like Alex Bolduc was willing to fight 6'8" John Scott to keephis spot in the lineup, but Rypien keeps on getting a spot handed to him even though he's been absolutely useless and invisible all year long five-on-five. Bolduc got the scouting report on Scott from both Darcy Hordichuk and defenceman Shane O'Brien, but still proceeded to fight Scott because he wanted to impress the coaches and keep his job in the NHL. Perhaps Rypien's body cannot hold up to the constant banging, but I rather have an oft-injured Rypien that makes a difference in the lineup once a year, than the useless Rypien we are seeing right now.
  4. <img src="" class="imageFloatRightFramed">Ryan Johnson's anticipated return to the Canucks lineup on Wednesday night against the Edmonton Oilers will mean a decision will need to be made on who comes out of the lineup. Winger Steve Bernier and defenceman Aaron Rome could also return. After a 6-2 drubbing of the Pittsburgh Penguins, it's hard to pinpoint a particular player who had a bad game. As usual, the obvious candidates to take out of the lineup are Jannik Hansen and Darcy Hordichuk. You have to believe that Jannik Hansen's spot in the lineup is safe after helping to setup Henrik Sedin's bank-in goal at 14:42 of the first period and then scoring himself on a slap-pass from Henrik Sedin at 3:04 of the second. You can't take Darcy Hordichuk out of the lineup either. Since his return to the lineup on Boxing Day against the Edmonton Oilers, Hordichuk has been a physical and agitating force on the ice in his limited ice time. On Saturday night, Hordichuk drew three penalties and led the team with Brad Lukowich in hits with four. You noticed Hordichuk every time he was on the ice for the right reasons and on one occasion, he had a huge one in the corner on Sidney Crosby. And Rypien, nothing. With the exception of a shot off the post, Rypien was invisible out there and for pretty much most of the season five-on-five. I expect more of a contribution from Rypien in the hitting department as one of the fourth line energy players. Rypien has dressed in 41 games and has 62 hits. Hordichuk's played in 33 games, eight less than Rypien, and has 77 hits for third on the team. Rypien has played in more games and averages more ice-time a game than Hordichuk. On the official scoresheet for Saturday night's game, he had two hits in the game, anybody see any of those? Rypien's made a name for himself for the league already as one of the best pound for pound fighters in the NHL, if not the best. So it's not going to be easy for him to find a dance partner each game to provide energy for the team. He has to hit and he hasn't been doing that. Between him and Hordichuk, he's the better player in every aspect and the far better skater. Hordichuk always seems to have troubles staying on his feet both while playing hockey and in fights. Rypien should be able to fly into the forecheck a lot quicker and adjust accordingly to make the hit. But it's not happening. Defenceman Aaron Rome could make his return to the lineup after missing more than a week with a concussion. In the four games this season, Brad Lukowich has been steady on defence for the Canucks while Aaron Rome during the time Kevin Bieksa's been out has been guilty of trying to do much on a few occasions. Don't expect a change until Lukowich really screws up in a game. In addition, winger Steve Bernier could return as well after missing the past three games with a groin injury meaning another forward may need to come out of the lineup. Needless to say, my candidate to come out of the lineup for Ryan Johnson on Wednesday is Rick Rypien. If Steve Bernier is fit to play, the other forward for me would be Tanner Glass, not because he's played bad this season or Saturday night, but him and Rypien were the worst of the best and two players in particular that I did not notice much of on the ice. How about we see that hit on Matt Cooke by Shane O'Brien again? <object width="640" height="383" id="embed" classid="clsid:d27cdb6e-ae6d-11cf-96b8-444553540000"><param name="movie" value="" /><param name="quality" value="high" /><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true" /><param name="allowScriptAccess" value="always" /><param name="flashVars" value="hlg=20092010,2,718&event=VAN449&server=" /><embed name="embed" pluginspage="" src="" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="640" height="383" quality="high" allowFullScreen="true" allowScriptAccess="always" flashVars="hlg=20092010,2,718&event=VAN449&server="></embed></object>
  5. <img src="" class="imageFloatLeftFramed">Edmonton interested in Boucher and Biron Allow me to be the first to report, the Edmonton Oilers are interested in the services of Brian Boucher of Philadelphia and Martin Biron of the New York Islanders after learning that Nikolai Khabibulin will be out indefinitely following back surgery. In both Philadelphia and New York, Boucher and Biron both have been outplayed and now are their respective team's third-string goalie. Am I the first or has Eklund's "sources" told him already? Make sure you come back here for the latest "rumours." <img src="" class="imageFloatRightFramed">"Hordickhuk" How about this for a typo from the guys at the Toronto Sports Network? You'd think they have an editor that proofreads an article before something like "Hordickhuk" gets published on Canada's largest sports site. Names can be tough sometimes, like Nino Niederreiter. But "dizzzy?" Zzzzzzzzzzzzzz. "The coach is making us fight you guys." So the other story coming out of Wednesday night's loss was Derek Boogaard telling Michael Russo of the Minnesota Star-Tribune that Hordichuk told him "the coach is making us fight you guys." Missing from the TSN and other reports was that Boogaard said "I don't really agree with that." Both Hordichuk and Vigneault denied these allegations. This comment on by "arrowsno13ban" pretty much sums it up: <img src="" class="imageFloatRightFramed">Massive Props to Alex Bolduc Earlier in the game, Rick Rypien was dumped at the side of the net by John Scott. Rypien collected himself and made a straight bee line back to the bench not even daring to give Scott a glare. So massive props to Alex Bolduc for taking on 6'8" Scott...props for even giving him a stare. Bolduc is listed as 6'1" and 178 pounds on, but he is in actually 6'3" and 200 pounds. So don't feel as bad, he only gave up about 50 pounds and five inches. How about John Scott as a Canuck? Since we're on the topic of John Scott, how about him as a Canuck? Earlier on in the season, there were unsustainable rumours that the Canucks were talking to the Wild about possibly acquiring his services. Obviously, the trade hasn't happened yet and probably won't happen. Both Scott and Derek Boogaard are unrestricted free agents at the end the season and chances are the Wild won't be keeping both. Boogaard will make $1,025,000 this season, while Scott made the league minimum of $500,000 and will get a raise. In eight NHL career fights, Scott has decisively won them all and has displayed the ability to play a regular shift on defence as the sixth man or a regular shift on the fourth line. If he hits the open market, go for it Gillis, sign Scott to a multi-year deal at $1 million per season. He'd be perfect as seventh defenceman or 13th forward. A million bucks is about right. Colton Orr's getting $1 million in Toronto. Brashear is getting $1.5 million in New York. Laraque is getting $1.5 million in Montreal. Hnidy's holding on tight! Shane Hnidy was holding pretty tight with his fight with Tanner Glass last night. So tight that Glass's jersey ripped. Why even challenge somebody if you're going to bear hug the person?
  6. Larenzo

    "Nasty tone"

    In the third period of Saturday's match between the Canucks and the Calgary Flames, CBC Commentator Mark Lee described the game as having a "Nasty tone". Rick Rypien vs Brandon Prust - Part I (AP Photo / The Canadian Press, Darryl Dyck) Particularly in the third period did both teams dish out physical punishment. Both coaches, Alain Vigneault and Brent Sutter, regularly dispatched their third and fourth lines, trying to match brawn. In a couple of instances, the result brought most players on the ice together in scrums, face-washes, punches, and take-downs. As pictured, Rick Rypien and Brandon Prust threw the gloves to the ice twice, comprising the 'Main event'. Rypien had a slight edge in the first bout, while the second had to be declared a tie. The camera man captured Prust in the box after the second fight, so exhausted he could barely hold his (slightly disfigured) head up. If you missed it, here is Part I (courtesy of Pouya of CanucksHD, just click on it): Rypien vs Prust: Part I Tanner Glass was one of the most physical players on the ice in the playoff atmosphere game Featured ( Fan-Zone contributor Jason C touches on it a lot more in his most recent article, but the referreeing by Bill McCreary and Stephon Walkom had as much to do with the rough stuff as the players. Essentially, they 'let the players go', and, as Jason C points out, it seemed more to Calgary's advantage, particularly in the case of Dion Phaneuf. Phaneuf easily could have made 3 more trips to the penalty box for his shananigans after the whistle, giving Daniel Sedin and Alex Burrows extra punches and cross-checks right in front of McCreary, who turned a blind eye. In my opinion, Alex Edler was one of the best players on the ice, making several key defensive plays Roberto Luongo, the games' 2nd star, made 38 saves and kept Vancouver in it all night. The game was tied 1-1 after the opening period, and 2-2 after the second frame. "We're disappointed with the loss, obviously, but we found a way to get it to overtime. So the game was right there for us." Red hot Alex Burrows was stymied in his quest to become the 1st NHLer to record three straight hat tricks, but had an assist on Daniel Sedin's tally (see link below). "Louie was great, that's for sure," said the 6'1 Pincourt, Quebec native. "I think, for the most part, they outworked us in a lot of areas." More Sedin magic... Courtesy of Canucks HD (just click) Alex Burrows trips up Rene Bourque, with Stephon Walkom viewing proceedings (AP Photo / The Canadian Press, Darryl Dyck) Evan Oberg and Brad Lukowich both stepped into defensive roles for the Canucks, who lost both Sami Salo and Aaron Rome to facial lacerations Thursday in their win over Phoenix. Veteran Lukowich, who has a Stanley Cup ring with the Tampa Bay Lightning, set the tone early with a big hit on Rene Bourque behind the Canucks goal. He didn't look out of place at all, and though it was Oberg's first taste of NHL action, he too jelled nicely with teammates. Coach Alain Vigneault refused to use the injuries to the blueline as a crutch. "Four of our defence had a little bit more minutes than usual. It can be challenging but at the end of the day, whether they get a few minutes or not, that shouldn't stop the rest of the group from playing real hard and we just weren't good enough tonight." Brent Sutter was a little less gracious post match. In an attempt to steer attention away from some of the none-calls his club received from McCreary, he ranted about the Canuck fan that had a laser pointer. "It was brought to the attention of the refs and security, and it's hard to believe that can go on for 60 mintues in a hockey game and it's not located and not found." Sutter went on to reiterate this, in a multitude of different ways, post game. Though HNIC viewers got a glimpse of the green laser pointer that Brent Sutter cried about, Daniel Sedin was the only distraction on this shot The Flames now hold the Northwest division lead by 1 point, thanks in part to call-up Jamie Lundmark from their AHL affiliate, the Abbottsford Heat. He scored the tying marker, and ended the game with his shootout conversion. The 28 year old Edmonton native was drafted 9th overall in 1999, but has failed to bring his junior scoring knack to the NHL. "It was huge," said Lundmark of the win. "From last night coming off a loss, I think everybody stepped up tonight and played well." He partially has goaltending coach Jamie McLennan to thank for the shootout move. He backed up Luongo earlier in his career, and knows Luongo's tendencies. Next up: The Predators are back in town for a swipe at the Canucks on Monday. notes: Current NHL Ironman Jay Boumeester played his 387th consecutive game, while Henrik Sedin, played his 380th. Larenzo Jensen, with files from AP Photo / The Canadian Press, Yahoo Sports and Canucks HD
  7. 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.
  8. <img src="" class="imageFloatLeftFramed">After being cleared to begin skating by himself last week, Michael Grabner joined the team for their practice today at General Motors Place and looks poised to return to playing hockey by the end of December. But the question is where? The first choice appears to the Canucks farm team, the Manitoba Moose. The Moose do not have the sexiest top six in the AHL on paper and with the re-addition of Grabner should be a spark a team that is three games above .500. Prior his call up, Grabner also displayed great chemistry with Russian winger Sergei Shirokov. But at the same time, Grabner could be a spark to the Canucks who are four games above .500 and displayed great chemistry on a second line with fellow speedsters Mason Raymond and Ryan Kesler. How the Canucks play in the time between now and until Grabner's activation of injured reserve will determine where he goes and if the game against the Anaheim Ducks last night was just a blip. The fact that the Canucks are at the 23-man roster limit with Pavol Demitra still on injured reserve will definitely play a role. All players presently on the roster are waivers eligible and all hold one-way contracts with the exception of Tanner Glass and Jannik Hansen. Grabner on the other hand is not waivers eligible and is on a two-way contract which puts him at a disadvantaged position. The popular consensus among Canucks fans is that Grabner has played well enough in his nine games thus far with the Canucks this season and should be given a spot on the team upon his return and Darcy Hordichuk should be dispatched to the minors because he's a floater and is useless. <img src="" width="300" height="257" class="imageFloatRightFramed">Are we expecting too much from Hordichuk? I tend to think so. Yes, he was hailed by Mike Gillis as this great fourth line enforcer who could play a regular shift, bring energy, and be a deterrent to extracurricular activities on the ice. Much like how Dave Nonis hailed Tommi Santala as the league's best fourth line centre. But he is an enforcer after all, is he not? A floater, a four minutes a night guy, dumb penalties, questionable hits, and a bench warmer in the third period is what you get for an enforcer in the NHL. Hordichuk brings a decent skating to the table, something many enforcers in the NHL are unable to do. Having an enforcer is important and look no further than the last four Stanley Cup champions coming out of the lockout. Last year, Eric Godard was there to serve and protect for the Pittsburgh Penguins. In 2008, there was Aaron Downey on the Detroit Red Wings. In 2007, there was of course George Parros and Shawn Thornton on Brian Burke's Anaheim Ducks. In 2006, there was Jesse Boulerice for the Carolina Hurricanes, albeit for four months of the season before being traded as part of the Doug Weight deal. Questionable hits so far this year in the NHL this season have also been committed to mostly teams that have lacked a heavyweight enforcer. Both Jarkko Ruutu and Alexander Ovechkin's respective hits on Patrick Kaleta of the Buffalo Sabres, David Koci on Washington's Mike Green, Ovechkin on Tim Gleason of Carolina, Mike Richards on David Booth of Florida, Carcillo's cheapshot on Matt Bradley of Washington in a fight, or Georges Laraques knee on Niklas Kronwall of Detroit. So, in short, I believe Darcy Hordichuk has a place on this team and I would say his job is safe on the team. <img src="" class="imageFloatLeftFramed">As well as Tanner Glass has played this year and as bad as Hordichuk has played this year and his reluctance to get into a fight, I would say Glass's job is in danger, if not more than Hordichuk. After surprisingly making the team out of training camp, Glass has played exceptionally well so far this NHL campaign and already setting career highs in goals, assists, and points in a single season. But two things are working against Glass. Waivers. If the Canucks choose to put Darcy Hordichuk on waivers to clear the requisite roster space for Michael Grabner or Pavol Demitra's return in January, he will most likely get claimed by a rival NHL club. Carolina, Detroit, New York Islanders, and Washington are all without a heavyweight. Surely, any one of these could put a claim in or any of teams that already have a heavyweight could as well as it is not easy finding one that can skate. Even if Hordichuk manages to clear waivers and gets sent to the minors, he will be subject to re-entry waivers if the Canucks ever want to bring him back up at which point you run the risk of having a rival team claim him and have half of his cap hit count towards the Canucks' cap. Glass has the higher probability of clearing waivers and is a player not subject to re-entry waivers. Redundancy. Both Tanner Glass and Rick Rypien are similar players. They both are quick on the forecheck, like to run guys through the boards, great middleweight scrappers, decent puck skills, and solid defensively. Needless to say, I think Rypien wins. Whatever the decision is, when Michael Grabner returns and Pavol Demitra in January, it is a decision for Alain Vigneault and staff to make, and not ours.