[Inspired by Arsenio Hall's "Things That Make You Go Hmmm…", Clayton Imoo talks about Canucks-related things that make him go hmmm… You can follow Clay on Twitter at (@canuckclay) or on his website, Clay's Canucks Commentary. Clay is also a finalist in the "Replace the KB" blogging competition for the Province and you can see all of his submissions for the contest here.]
With back-to-back victories over the Washington Capitals and Calgary Flames last week, it looked as if the Vancouver Canucks were going to put a mediocre October safely in their rear-view mirror. Well, the Canucks didn’t get too far before returning to their middling October ways with losses to the Minnesota Wild and St. Louis Blues. Let’s call a spade a spade and look at 5 things that make me go hmmm…
- Who are you? Booth Booth, Booth Booth. (If you didn’t figure it out, you were supposed to sing that to the tune of The Who’s “Who are You”). David Booth has 2 points in his first 6 games with the Canucks. Extrapolated over a full-season, that would amount to about 27 points. Except that he already had played 6 games with Florida before being traded here, and he only had 1 point in those 6 games. So extrapolate those three points in 12 games over 82 games (though the maximum he’ll be able to play is 80 games) and you get 20 points. That’s an unacceptable number for a second-line forward making $4.5 million (cap hit of $4.25 million). I know it’s still early in his Canucks career, but I’m already wondering who David Booth is. Is he the dynamic player who scored 60 points and was plus 10 just three seasons ago? Or is he more like the player who struggled to get to 40 points last year while amassing a dreadful minus 31? I hope it’s the former, despite early returns indicating the latter. Case in point: he’s tied with Dale Weise in team scoring.
- You’ve Got the Minus Touch. Speaking of plus/minus, have you seen some of the alarming numbers just 14 games into the season? Manny Malhotra is a minus-10, David Booth is a minus-9 and Jannik Hansen is a minus-8. With the Canucks at only a minus-3 in overall goal differential, it means that they are being badly out-played at even strength. Add in Chris Higgins’ minus-1 and things don’t look good for the Canucks’ third line. Especially when the third line isn’t supposed to be scored on. It’s not much better on defense, with Keith Ballard at minus-9 and Kevin Bieksa at minus-8. The term “Replace the KB” seems appropriate here for the two struggling defencemen.
- Gaudy Goalie Numbers. When you look at the top 5 goalies in terms of goals against average, the Canucks have already played against 3 of them: Nikolai Khabibulin of the Oilers (twice), Josh Harding of the Wild, and Brian Elliott of the Blues (twice). These same 3 goalies are among the top-5 in save percentage as well. That means that 5 of the Canucks’ first 14 games have been against 3 of the top goalies in the league (stats-wise). Looking at the Canucks’ offensive woes, this is a classic chicken and egg example. Have the Canucks struggled to score because the opposing goalies are so hot right now? Or has the Canucks’ inability to score helped contribute to the gaudy numbers? The answer is probably a bit of both. But one thing’s for certain: the Canucks better find their scoring touch soon before they slip further in the standings. Remember, this is the same team that led the league in scoring last year.
- O Canada. Who would have thought that one month into the season that the Canucks would be only the 5th-best team in Canada? Looking at win percentage (as opposed to total points as all the teams have played anywhere from 12 to 14 games), the Canucks are behind the red-hot Oilers and Maple Leafs, and Canadiens and Senators. Vancouver is ahead of only the Flames and Jets and it’s by less than a percentage point. So it’s conceivable that after the game against Chicago on Sunday that the Canucks will be the worst team in Canada. Unfathomable at the start of the season.
5. National Anthems. Lastly, and staying on the Canada theme, just a small thing I noticed last year that bugs the heck out of me. Why is that all 3 networks (CBC, TSN and SN) only show Canucks during the Canadian national anthem and never during the American national anthem? Let me explain. I get the fact that when playing at Rogers Arena against a team from a US city, that the Canucks are obviously the “home team”. And vice-versa when then Canucks are playing in the States. And I get the fact that when playing in the States, they are only playing O Canada because it’s the Canucks. But I still find it funny that we as viewers are to presume that all Canucks are Canadians and other opposing players are American. I first noticed it in the Chicago Blackhawks playoff series last spring. During the Star Spangled Banner, the camera would focus on crowd shots and the Blackhawks, including Jonathan Toews, Duncan Keith, and Brent Seabrook (before he got knocked out) – all 3 stalwarts on the Canada’s 2010 Winter Olympic Team. And then, during O Canada, we got shots of not only Luongo (Canadian) but shots of the Sedins (Sweden) and Kesler and Higgins (American) as well. Although admittedly unrealistic, I would love it if the cameras focused on American-born players from both teams during the American anthem and Canadian-born players for the Canadian anthem. Look for this during the next few games on TV.
The Canucks barely have any time to lick their wounds as they face their nemesis Chicago Blackhawks on Sunday. This will likely go one of two ways: either the Canucks pick their game up for one of their biggest rivals or they come out with even less confidence and more discombobulated than they already are. What will happen? Hmmm….