Ask Katie About the Canucks: Bieksa, Schneider and Pleasant Surprises

[Every Monday, Katie Maximick takes your questions and gives her take on the Canucks in her own cantankerous style. If you have any questions about the Canucks, send it to her via Twitter (@canucksgirl44)]

Cory Schneider, Vancouver Canucks

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Happy New Year, Canucks fans! I hope everyone celebrated (safely) after the Canucks’ 4-1 victory over the Stars on New Year’s Eve.

On that note, I believe I’m not the only one out there who’s surprised Kevin Bieksa is starting 2011 with a four-game point streak and a plus-13 rating. Did anyone see this coming two months ago? I didn’t think he’d be performing this way right now, but this is the kind of situation where I don’t mind being wrong. The entire roster is playing well as a unit and, as Lia (@7thCanuck) put it on Twitter, “It’s an awesome feeling having 2 good goaltenders and 4 lines that can deliver.”

Regardless of a successful winter and being first in the NHL after last night’s win over the Avs, some fans are still talking trades and injuries, especially with no cap space and Salo’s return this spring.

Paul (@PabloPenguin74) asks: If the Canucks were to deal, hypothetically, are there any deficiencies to fill?

That’s kind of hard to say right now with the Canucks’ recent dominance. The team’s been pretty strong in all areas, and with how Bieksa and Alberts have been performing, the fans don’t even have our usual goats. Of course there are areas to improve on, but I’m pretty satisfied with the team right now. All lines seem to be firing with the ice time they’re given, and even some of the young guns we’ve been bringing up from the Moose (Bliznak, Volpatti and now Bolduc) have performed better than expected.

I’m sure others will feel differently than I do, but what I would like to see on the team is a big power forward who uses his size and strength to move the puck and get in the way of the other team’s goaltender. Clearly I’m thinking the likes of Holmstrom, Byfuglien or Bertuzzi. Since Bertuzzi left the Canucks, this void hasn’t really been filled. Pyatt had the potential to be a great power forward but rarely used his size the way he should have. Like I said, this isn’t a necessity for the Canucks, but I think it would be a nice addition to an already well-rounded team.

Also, when Schneider is traded Vancouver will need another backup, but if anyone has had the privilege to see Eddie Lack play like I have, we know there’s not much to worry about.

Speaking of Schneider, so far he’s looking like Vancouver’s most solid backup goalie since the lockout, although he only has eight games under his belt.

@obstacleone asks: What’s the best record a Canucks backup has had?

I looked up the stats of our most prominent backups since the lockout. From the looks of things, Schneider is on pace to be Vancouver’s best backup goaltender since 2004, although some are hard to compare when backups like Auld played 67 games back in 2005/2006. Regardless, there definitely seems to be an improvement in Vancouver’s backups in the past few years when you look at their stats:

  • 2010/2011: Cory Schneider: 6-0-2, .923 save %, 2.38 GAA
  • 2009/2010: Andrew Raycroft: 9-5-1, .911, 2.42
  • 2008/2009: Curtis Sanford: 7-8-0, .906, 2.59
  • 2008/2009: Jason LaBarbera: 3-2-0, .915, 2.66
  • 2007/2008: Curtis Sanford:  4 -3-1, .898, 2.83
  • 2006/2007: Dany Sabourin 2-4-1, .906, 2.63 (there were other backups this year, but Sabourin played the most games)
  • 2005/2006: Alex Auld 33-26-6, .902, 2.94

Whether or not the Canucks will trade Schneider at the deadline or wait for the offseason, I think it’s safe to say that Vancouver will get a lot in return for our Ginger Jesus. It’s nice to be confident about the present and future of the Canucks’ organization.

Happy Monday guys, and enjoy being first in the NHL while you can — it doesn’t happen often enough!

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