After two weeks on the road and almost a week with a nasty cold, I finally got around to watching some Canucks hockey. I don’t know how Mike does it, but it’s damn tough to stay up and watch the boys when the games start at 10:00 PM or 10:30 PM. Anyway, I know I’ve got some catching up to do so here goes.
- At 201 minutes and 8 seconds, Roberto Luongo’s current shutout streak is nothing short of impressive. If he shuts the door through the first 11 minutes and 4 seconds of tonight’s game, he’ll break his own record that he set just last season. I went with a colleague of mine from Ottawa to Thursday night’s game – he’s a Sens fan first and a Canucks fan second – and at one time he remarked, “So this is what it feels like to have a goalie”. After years of Garth Snow, Felix Potvin, Bob Essensa, Kevin Weekes, Dan Cloutier, Johan Hedberg, Rob McVicar and the list goes on, I smiled and agreed.
- Luongo, of course, credits his teammates for the streak (Ben Kuzma, Vancouver Province). But a lot of the credit probably has to go to the penalty-killing units, who have started turning it around after a rough start to the season. Currently, the Canucks rank a good 11th in the league in goals-against (but was as low as 28th, I believe), but only a mediocre 20th in PK% (80.0%) and 22nd in PPGA (15). Removing the PPGA from the equation and the Canucks rank 5th in even-strength goals against. And in fact, the team did not allow a single powerplay goal in 7 of their 9 wins this season. It’s great to see the boys scoring with more frequency these days, but guess where the secret to their success lies this season.
- To give credit where credit’s due, Kyle Wellwood is leading the Canucks in goalscoring with 6 goals in 10 games. Who would’ve thunk it? With Jannik Hansen and Pavol Demitra coming back soon (Jim Jamieson, Vancouver Province), coach Alain Vigneault has a nice little dilemma.
- One more thing on Wellwood. There was a lot of disappointment in this city when Fabian Brunnstrom signed with the Dallas Stars instead of the Canucks. (Hello Ed Willes.) I know it’s early, but so far anyway, Wellwood has produced as much as Brunnstrom. Both have 7 points (6G-1A), though Wellwood has played in 3 less games. Also, Wellwood has a plus-3 rating while Brunnstrom has a minus-7. And the kicker? Brunnstrom is making $2.25 million this season while Wellwood is making under a $1 million. Moneyball at its finest.
- I’ve heard the Ohlund for Vermette and Ohlund for Jordan Staal trade rumors out there. Mattias is an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season and the Canucks obviously don’t want him to walk away for nothing. Personally, I don’t want to see the longest-serving Canuck to walk away at all, but I do realize that this is the salary cap era and fans have to get used to seeing players come and go. Now, I’m not validating the credibility of these rumors, but if Mike Gillis is considering trading Mattias – and Mattias is willing to waive his no-trade clause – the return has to be significant. He is a number two defenseman on any team (maybe except on the Ducks). Also, the Canucks have depth on defense right now, but admittedly, they’ve been lucky and relatively injury-free to start the season. Can they stay that way?