Saturday, January 20, 2007


Vancouver Canucks 48-Game Review

By Gőlbez

Some people do reviews at the half-way point of the schedule, and some do them at the All-Star break. Me? I do them at Game 48 in honour of the strike-shortened season over a decade ago. So, there!

Current Record 48GP 27-19-2 56PTS
Goals For/Against: 124-122 (+2)
Power Play: 17.4% (17th)
Penalty Kill: 88.4% (1st)

It really has been almost two separate seasons for the Canucks this year. For a long stretch, they couldn’t score more than 2 goals a game to save their lives. Just before the All-Star Break, they lost just twice in a span of ten games and were burying the biscuit with regularity old people take supplements to achieve.
One worry I have, and that nobody mentions, is that the Canucks have a GF/GA differential of a .500 club. I don’t care if the Canucks have had lopsided games against and a hot streak, the smart money would be on a team like Calgary, who has a +22 goal differential. The Canucks are playing above their record, for sure.

Here’s a look at the goalies and defensemen.

Roberto Luongo – 45GP 27-16-1 2.38GAA, 91.8SV%
It’s no shock that the Canucks’ surge has coincided with Luongo’s exceptional play as of late. He struggled during the first part of the season, but now he’s 7th in SV% and is proving to be worth every penny. The worry? He’s played more minutes than every goalie except for Martin Brodeur. Roberto Luongo has never played an NHL playoff game, and we hope he isn’t pooped out by the time the Canucks (hopefully) get there.

Bonus point: He’s so good that ladies are getting his name tattooed on their asses.

Dany Sabourin – 6GP, 0-3-1 3.02GAA 88.5SV%

Poor Sabourin. He plays once a month, and gets chopped to death by the media when he does come in and can’t find Stella's groove. It’s so hard to gauge his talent, but last night’s shootout loss to Buffalo certainly proved that he isn’t horrible. I really think the Canucks should have kept Wade Flaherty or got a veteran keeper that could handle a role better than Sabourin. Dany has been a starter his whole life, so this role must have screwed with him.

Ministry of Defense:

Kevin Bieksa (48GP 8+20-28 -2) – He’s been labeled “Jovo Jr.” by some, and really does play a similar game, albeit feistier. He was expected to be a decent 3rd line defenseman, but he’s now a contender for the non-existant Most Improved Player award. The guy just has no fear and plays with the type of confidence of a 10-year veteran. He does make his share of boneheaded plays, but that comes with the territory. You can live with a few mistakes since the benefits far exceed the liabilities.

Mattias Ohlund (48GP 9-16-25 -2) – Earlier in the season, Ohlund was completely lost on the ice. He was taking bad penalties, getting owned like real estate, and couldn’t handle the pressure of being THE MAN! When he was paired with Willie Mitchell, Ohlund was allowed to create more offense and that just turned his whole game around. He’s back and better than ever.

Sami Salo (38GP 7-14-21 +9) – To me, Salo has been Vancouver’s best overall defenseman this year, and the Canucks were terrible without him. Salo, of course, was injured earlier this season, and that kind of thing has to be expected. It’s a shame he can never stay completely healthy, because the Canucks can’t afford to be without him.

Lukas “Don’t” Krajicek (48GP 2-7-9 -12) – Earlier this season, I was most impressive with d00d’s mad skillz, and still kind of am. He’s a good skater and puckhandler, and it’s easy to see that. It’s also easy to see that he’s more than a tad timid and hasn’t put all the tools in the toolbox. Constant mistakes and a lack of offensive output have led to Lukas’s role being reduced more and more, and we see why Florida finally gave up on him. Is his promise ever going to show with something concrete?

Willie Mitchell (36GP 1-3-4 -8) – The highly-paid defensive specialist with an 11-year old’s name, Mitchell has been getting rave reviews from coaching staff, media, and other bloggers. I guess I haven’t watched his game closely enough, 'cuz I just haven’t been blown away. I do realize that he helped stabilize Ohlund and does get the toughest assignments, so he’s obviously filling his role with SOME decency. We won’t see another Mitchell goal until about March, as his offensive ability rivals that of Wade Belak.

Rory Fitzpatrick (32 1-2-3 +5) – So, Scott Niedermayer drops from the All-Star game and they don’t pick Rory, the 3rd leading vote getter, to fill in? More fraud! *hmph*

Fitzpatrick has played a lot more than I would have liked/expected, but he’s done a decent job as a 6th/7th defenseman and hasn’t hurt the Canucks in his limited role. He does take a few dumb penalties due to a lack of skill and footspeed, but I have to say I’m pleansantly surprised at his play. At the very least, he’s given us one of the most interesting stories of the year.

Alexander Edler (16GP 1-1-2 +3)
The Canucks ought to keep drafting plenty of those lovely Swedes, because they seem to do a great job here. Maybe Vancouver reminds them of home? Who knows… In any event, I have been impressed with Edler during his two stints with the Canucks. He looks poised, appears to have some good skating ability, and should develop into something useful unlike…

Yannick Tremblay (7GP 1-2-3 -6)
He had one nice game and loaded up on Power Play points, and then sucked as he usually does. Thankfully, he injured or demoted or whatever. He’s just gone, praise Pavol!

Patrick Coulombe (7GP 0-1-1 -6)
He was the pleasant surprise of the pre-season, but looked woefully out of place during his short stint. He’s undersized and has a lot of developing to do before he’ll make the show.

The forwards? Maybe I’ll do them at Game 50 or maybe tomorrow. It all depends on how much praise you give Pavol over the All-Star Break.

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[i]Some people do reviews at the half-way point of the schedule, and some do them at the All-Star break. Me? I do them at Game 48 in honour of the strike-shortened season over a decade ago.[/i]

Ugh. You come off as a rather astute fan of this game... don't do it such an injustice as to call the '94 [i]lockout[/i] a strike. It was not a strike, it was 180 degrees from a strike.

It was 700+ NHLPA members who were ready to show up in October and were told to go back home.
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