Now that every team has played their 40th game, it’s time to even the playing field once again and see what’s really been going on in the NHL.
Last time, I made special mention of a team’s special teams, goals for and goals against performance for the season.
This time, to learn a bit more about an individual team’s strengths and weaknesses, each squad was ranked in six categories*:
Teams were then ranked and put into groups of five, with those ranking 1-5 in each category designated “great,” 6-10 “good,” 11-15 “above average,” 16-20 “below average,” 21-25 “poor,” 26-30 “awful.”
(* – Stats were taken as of Thursday, January 12th, once all teams had played their 40th game.)
The Western Conference After 40 Games:
1. San Jose Sharks (53 points)
Games 21-40: 3rd in Conference (26 points)
Games 1-20: 1st in Conference (27 points)
SVPCT: Good / SHA: Great / GF: Above Average / GA: Good / 5-on-5: Great / SHF: Great
Notes: One of the most complete teams in the NHL and one of the toughest teams at 5-on-5 (tied with St. Louis for 3rd overall). Surprisingly, Michal Handzus (1 goal, 10 assists) had almost as many points as Joe Thornton (3 goals, 11 assists) in the second quarter. Martin Havlat, who found a way to hurt himself hopping the boards onto the ice, has been a bust.
2. Chicago Blackhawks (52 points)
Games 21-40: 5th in Conference (25 points)
Games 1-20: 3rd in Conference (27 points)
SVPCT: Poor / SHA: Above Average / GF: Great / GA: Below Average / 5-on-5: Good / SHF: Good
Notes: This is a team getting it done with offense, as the penalty kill and goaltending have been inconsistent all season. Marian Hossa (20 pts in the second quarter) looks like he’s five-years younger. Secondary scoring was absent in games 21-40. Dave Bolland (3 goals), Viktor Stalberg (4 goals) and Michael Frolik (2 goals) struggled.
3. Vancouver Canucks (51 points)
Games 21-40: 1st in Conference (30 points)
Games 1-20: 11th in Conference (21 points)
SVPCT: Good / SHA: Above Average / GF: Great / GA: Good / 5-on-5: Good / SHF: Good
Notes: A dominant second quarter revealed the Canucks look ready again for a long playoff run. Ryan Kesler was almost a point-per-game player in December (14 points in 15 games). For all the fan criticism, Keith Ballard was +10 in the second quarter.
4. Detroit Red Wings (51 points)
Games 21-40: 4th in Conference (26 points)
Games 1-20: 5th in Conference (25 points)
SVPCT: Good / SHA: Great / GF: Great / GA: Good / 5-on-5: Great / SHF: Great
Notes: Those of us waiting for the Red Wings to collapse into a rebuild will probably wait forever, as it looks like Valtteri Filppula (9 goals, 18 points in the second quarter) and Jiri Hudler (9 goals, 16 points) have finally established themselves as scoring threats. Meanwhile, Pavel Datsyuk (24 points) and Henrik Zetterberg (just 4 goals but 20 points) keep rolling. Interestingly, Nicklas Lidstrom had a pedestrian games 21-40 (2 goals, 7 points).
5. St. Louis Blues (51 points)
Games 21-40: 2nd in Conference (29 points)
Games 1-20: 9th in Conference (22 points)
SVPCT: Great / SHA: Great / GF: Below Average / GA: Great / 5-on-5: Great / SHF: Good
Notes: It didn’t take long for the Blues to play Hitchcock hockey did it? Sure, St. Louis still has trouble scoring, but the powerplay’s improving (9.2% in the first quarter, 18% during the second quarter). Meanwhile, the Blues goalie tandem was dynamite in games 21-40. Both Brian Elliott (7-4, 1.91 goals against, .931 save percentage) and Jaroslav Halak (6-0-3, 1.95 goals against, .929 save percentage) played like all-stars.
6. Minnesota Wild (48 points)
Games 21-40: 11th in Conference (21 points)
Games 1-20: 2nd in Conference (27 points)
SVPCT: Great / SHA: Awful / GF: Awful / GA: Great / 5-on-5: Below Average / SHF: Awful
Notes: It seems pretty clear that amazing start to the season was built on a house of cards – there’s a lot not working in Minnesota. After a hot start, Niklas Backstrom has been average lately (.908 save percentage in December), while the team’s goals against in the second quarter was almost a full goal higher than the first quarter (from 1.98 to 2.75).
7. Dallas Stars (47 points)
Games 21-40: 8th in Conference (23 points)
Games 1-20: 7th in Conference (24 points)
SVPCT: Above Average / SHA: Awful / GF: Above Average / GA: Below Average / 5-on-5: Good / SHF: Below Average
Notes: The Stars will be one of the teams in the Western Conference fighting tooth-and-nail for a final playoff spot. After a great start, Sheldon Souray was cooling off in the second quarter prior to his injury (3 assists, -1 in 14 games). Meanwhile, Stephane Robidas was a -6 during games 21-40. In Kari Lehtonen’s absence, Richard Bachman was solid (2.56 goals against, .917 save percentage) while Andrew Raycroft was not (3.49 goals against since November 23rd).
8. Nashville Predators (46 points)
Games 21-40: 10th in Conference (22 points)
Games 1-20: 6th in Conference (24 points)
SVPCT: Above Average / SHA: Poor / GF: Above Average / GA: Above Average / 5-on-5: Below Average / SHF: Awful
Notes: Another team trending downward thanks to disappointing goaltending play. Pekke Renne was rather human for games 21-40 (2.95 goals against, .904 save percentage). Rookie Craig Smith had just 1 goal in the second quarter, while Patric Hornqvist had 2.
9. Los Angeles Kings (45 points)
Games 21-40: 9th in Conference (22 points)
Games 1-20: 8th in Conference (23 points)
SVPCT: Great / SHA: Good / GF: Awful / GA: Great / 5-on-5: Poor / SHF: Good
Notes: During the second quarter, the Kings only scored three or more goals four times. Stats like that are why coaches get fired. Simon Gagne went goalless for December (2 assist in 12 games), while Jack Johnson was -6 during games 21-40. The team desperately needs a sniper – do they have enough to put into a package for Zach Parise? Goaltender Jonathan Bernier would have to be in the mix.
10. Colorado Avalanche (43 points)
Games 21-40:6th in Conference (24 points)
Games 1-20: 12th in Conference (19 points)
SVPCT: Below Average / SHA: Good / GF: Poor / GA: Below Average / 5-on-5: Awful / SHF: Above Average
Notes: For being a young, skating team, the Avalanche sure have a tough time scoring. Youngsters Matt Duchene (3 goals, 8 points), Paul Stastny (5 goals, 8 points) and David Jones (2 assists) all struggled in the second quarter.
11. Phoenix Coyotes (42 points)
Games 21-40: 12th in Conference (17 points)
Games 1-20: 4th in Conference (25 points)
SVPCT: Good / SHA: Poor / GF: Poor / GA: Good / 5-on-5: Above Average / SHF: Below Average
Notes: Pretty easy to see why they fell so far in the second quarter – Mike Smith returned back to earth (13 games, 5 wins, 3.38 goals against, .894 save percentage). Key forwards Shane Doan (3 goals, -7) and Martin Hanzel (2 goals) were MIA during games 21-40.
12. Calgary Flames (41 points)
Games 21-40: 7th in Conference (24 points)
Games 1-20: 13th in Conference (17 points)
SVPCT: Above Average / SHA: Below Average / GF: Awful / GA: Above Average / 5-on-5: Poor / SHF: Poor
Notes: It hasn’t been a great season in Calgary, but the Flames were a playoff team during the second quarter. One of the reasons was an improved powerplay, which helped the team score enough to win games. Naturally, Jarome Iginla was at the centre of this improvement (9 goals, 21 points, +7 in 20 games), although Olli Jokinen was right behind (7 goals, 19 points, +2). In the absence of Mark Giordano, Derek Smith stepped up (9 points), leading all Flames defensemen in scoring in the second quarter.
13. Edmonton Oilers (35 points)
Games 21-40: 15th in Conference (13 points)
Games 1-20: 10th in Conference (22 points)
SVPCT: Above Average / SHA: Below Average / GF: Above Average / GA: Above Average / 5-on-5: Poor / SHF: Awful
Notes: Introducing the worst team in the Western Conference during the second quarter. Yes, their defense is AHL-caliber, but some blame on the Oilers’ collapse should fall on the shoulders of the team’s veterans. Shawn Horcoff (4 goals, -8) and Ales Hemsky (2 goals, -4) underperformed, while Ryan Smyth (4 goals, 12 points, +2) was only marginally better.
14. Anaheim Ducks (30 points)
Games 21-40: 14th in Conference (14 points)
Games 1-20: 14th in Conference (16 points)
SVPCT: Awful / SHA: Below Average / GF: Poor / GA: Awful / 5-on-5: Awful / SHF: Awful
Notes: The fabulous core of the Ducks got rolling in the second quarter. Teemu Selanne (7 goals, 20 points), Corey Perry (11 goals, 21 points), Bobby Ryan (10 goals, 16 points) and Ryan Getzlaf (3 goals, 15 points) sparked the offense. However, a lack of depth and poor goaltending (Jonas Hiller had a 3.32 goals against and .892 save percentage in games 21-40) has kept Anaheim near the bottom of the Western Conference.
15. Columbus Blue Jackets (27 points)
Games 21-40: 13th in Conference (15 points)
Games 1-20: 15th in Conference (12 points)
SVPCT: Awful / SHA: Good / GF: Awful / GA: Awful / 5-on-5: Awful / SHF: Above Average
Notes: At the time of this study, Columbus was one of only six teams with a team save percentage under .900 (they were at .894). For what it’s worth, league average at the time was .912. Players playing their way out of town: Antoine Vermette (3 goals, 2 assists in the second quarter); Derick Brassard (2 goals, 5 assists); and Vinny Prospel (2 goals, 10 points). Could someone explain how keeping Ryan Johansen in the NHL (2 goals, 4 assists during games 21-40) is helping him develop into a top-six NHL forward?
[Every week, Caylie King looks at the Canucks week that was and the Canucks week ahead. You can follow Caylie on Twitter (@CayKing).]
Since the epic win against the Bruins, the Canucks are 2-2-0 and haven’t looked like the team that rolled through much of November and December. You can even say they were lucky to win against the Lightning and Blues. In their most recent loss, against the 14th place Anaheim Ducks, the Canucks looked out of synch and were outshot and outhustled most of the night. That said, the great thing about an 82-game season is that the Canucks have every opportunity to right their wrongs and move on from these recent lackluster performances.
46 GP, 28-15-3, 59 points (1st in Northwest Division, 2nd in Western Conference)
Cody Hodgson has made quite the impression by being one of the better and more consistent Canucks on the ice. Since December 11, CoHo has not gone more than 1 game without recording a point. Despite logging an average of 12:44 minutes of ice-time per game, he has 11 points (5G-6A) in his last 14 games (0.79 points/game).
Hodgson is currently tied for 4th in rookie scoring with 26 points (11G-15A) and has a plus-10 rating. Last week, he was selected to participate in the rookie All-Star weekend festivities.
Chris Higgins has been plagued with a mysterious infection twice already this season. In late December, he missed a few games due to a swollen hand, but ever since his return at the beginning of January, Higgins has struggled to find the scoresheet. In his last 7 games, Higgy has just 1 assist; prior to that, he had 6 points (2G-4A) in his previous 7 games.
Despite this setback, Higgins has recorded 10 goals and 14 assists already this season, and is on pace to exceed the 28 points he recorded all of last season. With David Booth also back in the lineup, the American Express line is back together, and hopefully, they can find the same chemistry they had before Higgy’s and Booth’s injuries, and start producing more consistently again.
Tuesday, January 17, 2012 vs. Los Angles Kings (7:00 PM start, home)
Only 6 points separate the Canucks and the Kings as they meet for the third time this season. So far, both teams have won one game each in this series. In their last meeting, on New Year’s Eve, the Canucks lost 4-1 to the Kings at Staples Center.
The Kings are 3-4-2 against Northwest opponents so far this season. Both teams have a good penalty-kill; the Kings’ PK is ranked 3rd in the NHL (87.6%) and the Canucks’ PK is ranked 4th in the NHL (86.7%).
Anze Kopitar leads the Kings in goals (14), points (42) and has been their best player against the Canucks. He has 3 points (1G-2A) and a plus-2 rating in their first two meetings. He is currently on a 4-game point streak (3G-3A-6P).
Saturday January 21, 2012 vs. San Jose Sharks (1:00 PM start, home)
With another early afternoon game this Saturday, it’s the perfect time to head down to the Hog Shack for the Canucks Hockey Blog tweetup as the boys take on the dangerous San Jose Sharks.
The Sharks have had a great start to the month of January going 6-1-1 in their first 8 games. They currently lead the Pacific Division; they also sit in 3rd place in the Western Conference, just 4 points back of the Canucks, with 4 games in hand.
The Sharks have played great against the Northwest Division this season. They’ve taken points in 8 of 10 games – a 5-2-3 record – against Northwest Division opponents. This will be the last regular season meeting between the two teams this season.
In three games against the Canucks this season, Patrick Marleau leads the Sharks with 3 points (2G-1A) and about 23 minutes of ice time.
He is also tied with Joe Thornton for the team lead in scoring with 36 points (17G-19A), and is tied for the team lead with 4 powerplay goals with 3 other Sharks (Joe Pavelski, Brent Burns and Ryan Clowe).
If someone you know is in a car crash, the first thing you want to know is how badly hurt they are.
The 2011-12 season of the Columbus Blue Jackets has been an epic car crash.
But in the grand scheme of things, they’re not too badly hurt.
Why? Just like someone struggling with addiction, sometimes you have to hit rock bottom to start your way back to the top.
For the Blue Jackets, this year has been rock bottom – and the path to the top is pretty clear.
Here’s why the future isn’t all that dark in Columbus:
1. The first overall pick this year is a dandy.
Nail Yakupov has been heralded as the best Russian prospect since Alex Ovechkin and has drawn comparisons to Pavel Bure. Unlike many of the Russian forwards that come to play in the NHL, Yakupov has strong on-ice vision and knows how to use his teammates (witness the 4-assist game against Canada in the World Juniors). A torn meniscus shouldn’t dampen his NHL future, and he’s already stated he doesn’t want to play in the KHL. If the Blue Jackets remain as the worst team in the NHL and don’t lose their first overall pick in the draft lottery, Yakupov could have the same impact as Crosby, Malkin, Ovechkin and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins have had on their respective teams.
2. They already have a veteran superstar to build and market the team around.
Rick Nash has never had an elite centre to play with, and for the most part has been almost a lone-gunman his team’s attack, making it easy for the opposition to defend against him. However, he remains an elite talent, with great speed for a power forward and terrific goal-scoring hands. In many ways, he could become what Jarome Iginla came to mean to the Calgary Flames, both on the ice and in the community. The Blue Jackets would be fools to move him. Besides, teams when trading a superstar of Nash’s standing rarely get equal value back in a trade (witness the Joe Thornton deal from Boston years ago).
3. Their attendance woes are greatly exaggerated.
One of the great myths propagated by hockey media (particularly Toronto hockey media) is that Columbus is just another failed NHL expansion team destined to move.
Well hold on a minute.
From 2000-2004 Columbus was actually a top-15 market attendance-wise in the NHL, peaking at 8th overall in the league in 2001-02. Granted, years of on-ice incompetence eventually wore the lustre off of going to Blue Jackets games. But if you look at the history of the franchise (2000-present), they’re actually only 21st in league attendance:
|Rank||Team||Average Attendance (2000-present)|
|2||Detroit Red Wings||18, 859|
|21||Columbus Blue Jackets||16,168|
|24||Carolina Hurricanes||15, 441|
|25||New Jersey Devils||15, 157|
|26||Anaheim Ducks||14, 988|
|27||Nashville Predators||14, 935|
|29||Phoenix Coyotes||13, 823|
|30||New York Islanders||13, 090|
The success or failure of a hockey market can only truly be measured once the local team has experienced both sustained success and failure.
Columbus has only known failure. It’s not a stretch to think the team will fill their building again once the team enjoys some success.
4. It doesn’t take a rocket science to see where this team needs to improve.
Let’s get this out of the way first. Scott Howson has been at best mediocre, at worst a failure, as Blue Jackets general manager. The remainder of this season, and what he can accomplish in the off-season, will decide if he remains the team’s architect in 2013.
Howson has already stated Columbus is open-for-business. There’s a nice breakdown of who could be moved here. Who the team ships out though is almost secondary to the importance of what it brings back.
In this case, the only acceptable return is a goalie who can make a difference night in, night out at the NHL level.
The Steve Mason era has to end. Other than during Mason’s rookie season, the team’s goaltending has been among the league worst. A great team can win with average goaltending. A rebuilding team can only win with great goaltending.
The Blue Jackets need to find that goaltending – that is priority no. 1. Maybe it’s Jonathan Bernier in Los Angeles; Cory Schneider in Vancouver; Thomas Griess in San Jose; Anders Lindback in Nashville; or Sergei Bobrovsky in Philadelphia. Maybe it’s 2012 unrestricted free agents Tomas Vokun in Washington or Ray Emery in Chicago. Maybe it’s a a draft pick like Andrei Vasilevski. Maybe it’s prospect Mark Dekanich, who has been knocking on the door in Columbus for awhile but can’t seem to stay healthy.
Whoever it is, the Blue Jackets must turn that perennial weakness into a position of strength for the team to turn around.
The most consistently successful teams in NHL history are those that build from the goaltender out. It’s time Columbus followed the blueprint.
THOUGHTS ON THE FLY
[Every week, Caylie King looks at the Canucks week that was and the Canucks week ahead. You can follow Caylie on Twitter (@CayKing.)]
The Canucks looked to end 2011 with a California sweep, unfortunately they just fell short due to a poor effort against the Los Angeles Kings.
A new year brings the same expectations. They had a fantastic month of December and we expect much of the same to finish off the season and continue on into the playoffs.
Captain Henrik and his crew head back to Rogers Arena to play two home games and then head to Beantown for a rematch against the defending Stanley Cup Champions.
39 GP, 24-13-2, 50 points (1st in Northwest Division, 2nd in Western Conference)
Henrik Sedin was just named the NHL’s 3rd star in the NHL ffor the month of December after recording 22 points (2G-20A) in 15 games. He currently has 6 points (1G-5A) and plus-3 rating during an active 4-game point streak.
Not only is Captain Henrik leading the Canucks with 36 assists and 46 points, he is also leading the NHL in those two categories. He is player that leads by example – he isn’t the strongest, biggest or fastest on the ice, but he does what he needs to do and can change the game with one slick pass to his brother, Daniel. He has also shown in the last few games that he won’t allow the opposition to push him around; he has been a little bit more feisty. Albeit, his feistiness won’t intimidate other players but at least he is standing up for himself.
Kevin Bieksa had a slow start to the season, struggling with his defensive responsibilites and not finding the score sheet consistently. Since the middle of November, Juice has turned his game around for the better and has become an offensive threat while improving his plus/minus rating. He is currently on a 6-game point streak and has 7 points (1G-6A) during that stretch.
But also, Bieksa – along with defensive partner, Dan Hamhuis – have been the Canucks’ shutdown duo and have done a commendable job. Hamhuis’ calm presence and poise allows Bieksa to be more adventurous offensively. Likewise, Bieksa has been smarter about his pinches so as to not leave Hamhuis in a bad spot.
Monday January 2, 2012 vs. San Jose Sharks (5:00 PM start, home)
The Canucks and Sharks met up just last week in one of the best – if not the best – games of the season thus far. The intensity and atmosphere at the Shark Tank made it feel like a playoff game. It was a physical battle between two teams who clearly do not like each other. In that last game – a 3-2 OT win for the Canucks – Joe Thornton taunted and stuck his fingers in Henrik’s face while they were talking to the referee. To say that there is animosity between the teams is an understatement, so it should be interesting to see how the Canucks respond.
Patrick Marleau is tied for second on the team with 27 points (13G-14A). Marleau has great speed and when he is on his game can be very effective on the ice for his team. He has been hot with 10 points (3G-7A) and a plus-4 rating in his last 7 games.
Wednesday January 4, 2012 Minnesota Wild (7:00 PM start, home)
Before last week, the Wild lead the Northwest Division but they have been struggling as of late. They’re 1-6-3 in their last 10 games, which is a complete turnaround considering that they were, just before that, on a 7-game win streak.
The Canucks have won 2 of the 3 previous meetings against the Wild this season, including a decisive 4-0 shutout before Christmas. In that game, Roberto Luongo was stellar in stopping all 33 Minnesota shots.
Pierre-Marc Bouchard, who recorded the GWG in the Wild’s lone victory against the Canucks this season, has 3 points (1G-2A) in 3 games against Vancouver (same with Matt Cullen). He currently has points in consecutive games and has 22 points (9G-13A) in 36 games this season.
Saturday January 7, 2012 vs. Boston Bruins (10:00 AM start, away)
It won’t be hard for the Canucks to find motivation against the Bruins on Saturday. This is the first meeting between the two clubs since Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals. We all know how that ended, so it will be fun to see the two team renew their rivalry from the finals. Canucks fans will never get over the Cup final loss but many are moving on, but it willl be interesting to see what sort of emotions will arise. Brace yourself, Canucks Nation, for countless reminders of what happened in June and the hostility from Bruins fans.
The Bruins, like the Canucks, are playing very well right now. They had a very successful December going 9-3-0; while the Canucks went 10-4-1. It’s safe to say that both teams are on top of their game which can only mean an entertaining battle come Saturday.
Second overall pick, Tyler Seguin, is far from experiencing the dreaded “Sophomore Slump”. He is currently leading the Bruins in goals (15) and points (32). He has 6 points (2G-4A) and a plus-6 rating in his last 5 games.
Although the Canucks did not win (or deserve to win for that matter) the game against the Kings, there are a few positives to take out of that game.
The biggest thing that stood out was the fact that players like Andrew Alberts and Keith Ballard stood up for their Captain and their teammates. The topic of team toughness is as prominent in Vancouver as the Kardashians are in Hollywood. They may not have fighter or an enforcer – nor do they necessarily need one – but if they can play together and stand up for one another, there’s no telling how far they can go (again) in the playoffs.
The bottom line, like Henrik said, is that we didn’t lose the Cup Finals because of team toughness we lost because we couldn’t score. So while the assertiveness and physical play of players is a positive, the team needs to stay focused on their game and what makes them successful.
[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.]
I know it’s been three weeks since my last “Things That Make You Go Hmmm”, but I was a bit pre-occupied with Christmas and creating this year’s Canucks Christmas Carol called “Under the Minneso”. Unfortunately (or fortunately), it was rendered irrelevant on Boxing Day when the Canucks passed the Wild to take over top spot in the Northwest Division. So check it out now if you haven’t seen it yet, before it fades into YouTube oblivion.
For my last “Things That Make You Go Hmmm” column of 2011, I am going to focus solely on Andrew Ebbett’s overtime goal that lifted the Canucks to a thrilling 3-2 win over the Sharks in San Jose last night. I have three things that made me go hmmm:
I’ll admit I found it funny to see Joe Thornton try and taunt (troll?) Henrik Sedin by repeatedly putting his fingers in Hank’s face.
To be honest, I don’t know if it was more an indication of his lack of respect for Hank and the official – this incident occurred while both captains were conferring with the referee – or if he was simply channeling his inner douchebag-iness.
The thing is, Max Lapierre took a lot of heat during last season’s Stanley Cup Finals for putting his finger in Patrice Bergeron’s face.
I wonder if the media will similarly call out Thornton for doing the same thing. Or, you know, do a montage of it on Hockey Night In Canada.
[Every week, Caylie King looks at the Canucks week that was and the Canucks week ahead. You can follow Caylie on Twitter (@CayKing).]
All is right in Northwest Division again. With last night’s win, the Canucks are finally atop of the NW standings. The Canucks ended their four-game homestand with an entertaining and physical battle against the Edmonton Oilers on Boxing Day; Andrew Ebbett lead the team with his first career multi-goal game, while the bromance of Burrows and Kesler combined for two goals, including the game winner.
The three games prior to Christmas break included a clinic put on by the Sedins against the Minnesota Wild, a furious start against the Detroit Red Wings that ended 4-2 for the boys in blue, and then a lackluster effort in a 3-1 loss against the Calgary Flames.
Vancouver now heads out to California for a three-game road trip.
36 GP, 22-12-2, 46 points (1st in Northwest Division, 2nd in Western Conference)
Cody Hodgson might not be AV’s favourite player but he deserves to be recognized for his play as of late. He is currently on a four-game point streak (1G-3A).
CoHo spends most of his time between the 3rd and 4th lines, and if that isn’t happening he is most probably being benched by Alain for some unknown reason. Through all of that he has been a professional and makes the most of ice-time when he gets it. When he’s rolling, Canucks Nation sees glimpses of what made him a top-10 pick. He is very effective along the boards or in close quarters, he has great hockey sense and he has been doing a better job of coming back and taking care of his defensive responsibilities.
Alex Burrows seems to be everywhere on the ice. He always seems to be in the right place when playing with the Sedins. He is constantly a beast on the penalty-kill; he not only sacrifices the body but he is also able to be an offensive threat while being shorthanded.
Burr has 8 points (5G-3A) in his last six games while going a plus-5 in that stretch. He is tied with Daniel Sedin for the most goals on the team (14) and is tied for 5th in team scoring (23 points). He also boasts a team-best plus-16 rating.
Wednesday December 28, 2011 vs. San Jose Sharks (7:30 PM start, away)
In their first meeting of the season, the Canucks went into the Shark Tank and stole two points from San Jose. Andrew Alberts was the unexpected hero in the game, recording the GWG, while Cory Schneider stopped 43 out of 45 shots to get the victory.
San Jose has had some success against the Northwest division this season going 4-2-1; while outscoring their opponents 21-17.
Logan Couture is tied with Joe Pavelski for the team lead in goals with 15. Couture has 6 points (4G-2A) in his last 6 games and is tied for 3rd in team scoring with 26 points.
Thursday December 29, 2011 vs. Anaheim Ducks (7:00 PM start, away)
At the start of the season, not many people would have guessed that the Anahiem Ducks would have 10 wins in 35 games and be in 14th place in the Western Conference. The Ducks fired head coach, Randy Carlyle, and brought in Bruce Boudreau hoping that he would provide the lift that they needed. So far that move hasn’t paid off. They have just 3 regulation wins in their last 11 games (3-6-2) under the former Caps coach.
Although the Ducks are not playing well, this is a team that the Canucks cannot take for granted especially since Anahiem won the first meeting 4-3 back in November. In that game, Andrew Cogliano led the Ducks with 2 points (1G-1A); while Jannik Hansen had two goals for the Canucks.
The ageless Teemu Selanne leads the Ducks with 35 points (11G-24A) and is always deemed a “Canucks-Killer” because he always seems to find the score sheet when the two clubs meet. He hasn’t scored in his last two games, but just prior to that, he was on a 9-game point streak (3G-10A-13P).
Saturday December 31, 2011 vs. Los Angles Kings (7:00 PM start, away)
The Canucks look to end 2011 with a win against Drew Doughty and company. The Kings are still fighting for a playoff position in the tough Western Conference; they currently sit in 10th place.
Aaron Rome got the game winning goal against the Kings in their meeting back in November. Talented defenseman Drew Doughty led the Kings with 1 goal, 1 assist and a plus-1 rating in that game; while also having the most ice time with over 26 minutes.
Anze Kopitar is currently riding a four-game point streak; he has 5 assists in that stretch. Kopitar leads the team in assists (24) and points (34).