Above & Below The Call of Duty
27 games into this season, we’re finally starting to get a feel for the 2011 version of our northwest / westcoast boys the Vancouver Canucks.
8-2 in their last 10, they’ve shaken off the hangover and are back to rubbing shoulders with the Western elites.
This seems like a good time to take a look and the surprises of the year, both good and bad.
Here is Version 1.0.
Overachievers are individuals who “perform better or achieve more success than expected.”
Chris Higgins has been the most consistent Canuck forward. He was humming along with 17 points in a major bounceback year before succumbing to a Staph infection this week.
He’s certainly one of the Canucks‘ best trade deadline pickups.
As Jannik Hansen has found spot duty in the top six this year, there have been some who doubt his ability to play an offensive role.
After a slow start to the year, Hansen has used his speed to match his career high in goals already. He has 4 goals in his last 3 games.
Hansen won the Unsung Hero award last year but he keeps his play up he’ll have everyone singing his praises.
This list wouldn’t be complete without mentioning Cory Schneider who has made things very interesting in the crease.
His hot streak caught everyone’s attention, most of all Roberto Luongo who had the best seat in the house for a lot of the games.
The Avalanche dangled the first round pick they eventually used on Semyon Varlamov at Mike Gillis during last years draft and after Schneider’s start this year his trade value has only gone up.
But he could also be the ultimate insurance policy in case of Lumergencies.
You can’t have your cake and eat it too.
An underachiever is “a person who fails to achieve his or her potential or does not do as well as expected.”
There was a lot of hope when Keith Ballard finished a beautiful Sedin play in the season opener but since then Ballard has been Ballard.
With a full injury-free summer of training and training camp it was hoped Ballard would bounce back. So far, he’s been practically invisible save for some early season defensive gaffes.
At $4.5 mill, at some point his chances are up.
Manny Malhotra‘s struggles are not surprising given his injury but he looked like a shadow of last year in the first two months.
It was more sad than frustrating as you began to wonder if he would regain his level of play.
Thankfully, he’s picked up in the past few weeks, aided by the contributions of Max Lapierre and he can still win faceoffs but he was just awful in October.
Finally let’s take a moment to remember how bad Marco Sturm & Mikkael Samuelsson were.
Before Gillis packaged them as magical beans and gave them to Florida, Samuelsson was still limping from a sports hernia that had been bugging him for 8 months and Sturm was a gamble on a pair of reconstructed knees that had come up snake eyes.
For $5.25 mill combined, the Canucks got a return of 1 goal, 2 assists, and a combined -6 in 12 games.
And one of those guys would have had to play with Kesler practically out of default.
Somewhere out there a parallel universe exists where Gillis did not turn these over the hill players into David Booth and I’m sure it’s absolutely horrible.