Those of you who visit this space on a regular basis (and I thank you thank you thank you!) probably realize that I’m not exactly known for your “typical” post-game Blogs that you can read in the daily newspaper or the thousands of websites that fill up The Tubes … so in the spirit of trying to keep you on your toes (and to re-energize myself and in honour of our (pending) new look) I decided today’s piece would be completely different than normal, whatever normal is.
** Please note this was written Monday and you’ll see “last night” more than a few times … I could change them to “against the Av’s” etc but I already have a lot of that in here too … once you read the piece you’ll see I tried to use as much variety as I could instead of the same term/phrase over and over throughout, which is something I’m always trying to avoid in my Blogs. **
322 – With his assist on Alex Edler’s insurance marker late against Colorado Mattias Ohlund, in what is more than likely his last season as a Vancouver Canuck, finally got his 322nd point passing both Dennis Kearns and Jyrki Lumme as the highest scoring Dman in franchise history. His 91 goals are also the most by any Canuck blue-liner. Ironically, if Ohlund is plying his trade somewhere else next season the Canucks will have bid adieu to arguably the 3 most reliable players the organization has ever had in the short span of about 12 months: after having seen their all-time goals and point getter (Markus Naslund) as well as the all-time games played and playoff point leader (Trevor Linden) play their final games in a Canuck uniform last season … the times they are a’changing.
250 - Sunday night’s 4-2 win over Colorado was the 250th consecutive sellout at GM Place, and Mrs Aquilini the Vancouver Canucks thank you!
81 – The Canucks now have 81 points on the season which has them 10th best in the league and 9th best when the points per game played are thrown into the mix.
29.1 – By holding the Av’s to 20 shots the Canucks have allowed 29.1 per game, which is 10th best amongst the 30 teams in the NHL.
28.7 – Canucks are averaging 28.7 shots on goal per game against the other guys, including the 23 generated versus Colorado, which is only 23rd best in the league.
27 – Willie Mitchell, perhaps the team’s most under-appreciated player, is now a plus 27 after adding 2 more to his season-long tally on Sunday which is 6th best overall in the league and 2nd best amongst all Defensemen. His last game that had a minus beside his name in the stat box was Jan 20th against San Jose, and also of note is that his current 21 points is a new career high. The guy is flat-out a rock on the back-end for this team even with his giveaways that people love to harp on … watch the games closer people is all I can say as he is playing extremely well from where I sit.
26 – After getting 1 measly goal in his previous 26 games Kyle Wellwood’s lighting of the lamp for the early 1-0 lead last night means he has 2 in his last 3 games and he is now looking as confident as he has all season. His defensive play has been very good and if he can contribute offensively he makes the 3rd line go which makes the Canucks a very balanced team up front.
23 – With his 3 assists against Colorado (the first time he has done that in the NHL) Ryan Kesler has 23 points in his last 19 games, which is 25% (’ish) of a full season so I think it’s safe to say that this is not a blip on the radar … neck-and-neck with Burrows for team MVP and a true leader.
23 – Canucks are now a very not-so-shabby 23-0-3 when leading after two periods.
22 – Lots of talk about the Sedins and their contract negotiations as well as them “slumping” again as the games become more important down the stretch; however, did ya know that Henrik has 22 points in his last 22 games (none last night)? Me neither.
21 – A 79.7% Penalty Killing percentage has the Canucks a very mediocre 21st best overall with basically the same guys who were #1 two years ago, but it is getting better as they have successfully killed off 18 of their last 19 after holding Colorado to a 1-for-7 night.
20 – Pavol Demitra somehow manages to put up points without standing out as one of the best players on a nightly basis, and his assist versus the Av’s gives him 20 points in his last 19 games.
18.5 – The Power Play has been another bone of contention with this team and their 18.5% efficiency rating has them 16th league-wide after batting .500 last night going 2-for-4 with the man-advantage.
18 – It’s been 18 games that the Canucks have played since they started winning more than they were losing and on those 18 occasions Mats Sundin has put up a respectable 15 points (nada last night), which is pretty damn good for a guy who would have a tough time beating Dana Murzyn in a race. Having said that, he has but 2 goals in his last 15 games and almost half of his points in the last 18 games came in the first 3 games when Kesler was put on his line … it is clear that Sundin’s play overall has been much less than most would have expected from him and if he is unable to regain his form he will more than likely retire after this year.
15 – As always, just like his twin brother, Daniel is feeling the heat from Canuck Nation. Game #68 extended his goal-less drought to his last 10 games, although he has managed to produce 15 points in his last 15 games … the quietest point-per-gamers in the league.
14 – Since returning from his groin injury Roberto Luongo has a record of 14-2-1 … we won’t mention his other stats … just win baby! By far the best news for the Canucks is the fact that they are winning hockey games when their best player is not quite playing up to his usual standards. His play over the years has set the bar incredibly high and has led to great expectations, even perfection, and it is very unfair to expect it every single night … rest easy Canuckleheads, Lui will be there when his mates need him most.
14 – Since the beginning of February the Canucks are 14-3-1 in their last 18 games which is easily the best record in the league over that time.
14 – Kevin Bieksa, up and down in Canuck fan’s hearts and with his play on the ice over the last 2 years, does have 14 points in his last 22 games even without getting a point against the Avalanche.
13 – Also contributing from the back-end of late has been Ohly Jr, aka Alex Edler, whose goal last night now puts him at 13 points in his last 19 games played.
11 – The win over the Av’s was the Canucks 18th game versus North West teams and they are now a very impressive 11-4-3 within the Division.
10 – What has long been a sore-spot with this team and has held them back in recent years is putting the freaking puck in the net, so when you see the Canucks’ 2.98 goals per game placing them 10th best in the NHL you have to smile just a little (or a lot!) inside.
9 – After setting a franchise record for futility on home-ice by losing 9 straight games, they have flipped that stat on its head by winning the next 9 games at GM Place to tie the team’s record set in 1992. Not going to check up on it because I don’t have a spare 50 hours or so to spend researching it, but I’d be willing to bet no team in NHL history (or any Professional Sports League) has ever lost 9 straight then won 9 straight playing at home, or anywhere else for that matter.
8 – Coming into yesterday’s game the Avalanche had won 8 straight games over the Canucks (Luongo had lost 7 straight) so with 3 more games left against them in Vancouver’s last 14 the win was far
more important than your usual 5th pace versus 14th place match-up.
8 – With their league-best play in the last 6 weeks or so the Canucks are now 8 points up on 9th place in the west … Canuck fans can start to sleep better after witnessing one of the worst late-season collapses in the team’s oh-so-sorry franchise history last season.
7 – Alex Burrows’ short-handed marker last night (his 22nd overall and his 4th shorty, when two seasons ago he only got 3 goals of any kind) was another beauty that underlines the determination and work ethic that he shows, without fail, every single game he plays. The new $8 Million Dollar Man now has 7 goals in his last 7 games (6-in-6 since signing his new contract).
7 – Considering Luongo missed 2 months of the season, the fact that the Canucks are 7th best in the league defensively with 2.69 goals against per game is truly outstanding.
6 – As mentioned, the Canucks held Colorado to 20 shots on Luongo and have now allowed no more than 22 shots against in 6 of their last 10 games … as sure a sign there is that the team as a whole is playing the type of game that has a chance of success in the post-season.
5 – Unthinkable just weeks ago, the lead for the North West Division leading Flames is only 5 points on the Left Coasters and they have played 1 more game, so 3rd place in the West is hardly out of the question for Vancity although they have 4 less wins than the Flames so they’ll need to pass them in points as the first tiebreaker is wins.
4 – I said I wouldn’t mention Lui’s other stats, but letting in bad goals, real stinkers the likes of which we have never seen from him before, is becoming a very bad trend of late and last night’s Darcy Tucker goal from the corner makes it 4 of ‘em in the last 4 games.
3 – Columbus is only 3 points behind the Canucks and look to be a lock to make the playoffs for the first time in franchise history (Congrats Blue Jacket fans!), but they have played 2 more games than the locals. As well, both teams have 36 wins on the year, and that is the first tie-breaker should the teams finish with the same records … no where to look but up in the standings for The Whale.
2- Speaking of looking up in the standings, Chicago’s hold on 4th place is down to a very slim 2 points over the Canucks, although they do still have a game-in-hand on the Canucks.
1- The Canucks have 14 games left in the regular season and only two of them are against teams ahead of them in the west: 1 each versus both Calgary and Chicago which is gonna make things fun down the stretch and is keeping the impossible dream(s) alive.
There’s only so many curveballs I can throw at ya’s so just to make sure that you remember where you are with the new-look STB Website and all, the regular staple of this space to close it out:
The Grades …
A … Burrows
B … Mitchell, Salo, O’Brien, Kesler, Raymond, Johnson
C+ … Luongo, Bieksa, Edler, Ohlund, Henrik, Daniel, Demitra, Wellwood, Hordichuk
C … Sundin, Pyatt, Bernier
About the Author
Written by Mark Gage