Yet Another Shootout
If you’ve been watching the Vancouver Canucks in 2012, you would agree that the team is slumping. The Sedins are off, the the second periods have been appalling, and in a throwback to the Dave Nonis era, the goaltenders have been keeping the Canucks in games.
So how do you explain that the Canucks are the league’s hottest team right now, 7-1-2 in their last 10? How do you explain that they’re only a point out of first overall in the league with a game in hand?
And of course, the division lead over Minnesota has been stretched to 13 points.
This team is winning grimey-er than Grimes.
I can’t explain it, I won’t explain it, and I can’t explain it.
What I can do is offer you my Canucks vs. Predators Love’ em & Hate’ em.
1. Road Warriors
Somehow I’ve slept on the Canucks’ road record this year, just now noticing that the team is 18-9-1 in the road whites. That’s impressive and the second best road record in the NHL.
It makes you wonder if the backlog of home dates could actually be this team’s undoing (ok not really).
Looking at the West, it offers the Canucks a distinct advantage. Detroit is unbeatable at home but middling in the road, St Louis and Nashville actually have losing road records, and San Jose is the only other contender with a respectable record away from home base.
Of course, when half of your road games contain a couple thousand Canuck fans, it’s easy for the Canucks to have a little bit of extra jump on tour.
2. I For One Welcome Our New Shootout Overlord
Even stranger than the fact the Canucks are winning during this losing streak is that they’re doing it through shootouts, mainly thanks to the superb play of Roberto Luongo.
Tuesday night against Nashville was Vancouver’s fifth shootout of the year and their second in a row. The Canucks last five games have gone to a shootout or overtime, contributing to the amazing stat that in their last 12, the Canucks have two regulation wins but also just two regulation losses.
And if that last paragraph wasn’t strange enough, again, I stress this: the Canucks are winning games in the shootout thanks to the fantastic performances in the skills competition by Roberto Luongo.
Not since Ahmad Bradshaw did his best not to get into the end zone last Sunday while the Pat’s defence tried to convince him otherwise has my sports world been turned so upside down.
3. Ballroom Bitz
In just his second game with the Canucks, Byron Bitz has more goals on the year than Scott Gomez. The big man also added an assist playing with Henrik Sedin as AV put his lines in a blender in order to get the team out of it’s first-place funk.
Scoring his first goal since 2010, Bitz proved to be an underrated Sedin linemate and perhaps the best trade deadline acquisition Mike Gillis made in July. He’s big, he hits, he fights, he has some offensive talent.
In fact, if he had just dropped the gloves Tuesday, Bitz would have picked up the Gordie Howe hat trick in Smashville.
1. Look At That Sleepy Hansen
Jannik Hansen, one of 20 players in the league nicknamed Honey Badger, has reverted to his start of the season form wherein he was absolutely invisible. He has just two goals in 2012 while not contributing much else, leading to his benching last night.
If the message got through, it wasn’t acted upon last night. Hansen was the Canuck’s unsung hero last year and it’s safe to say no one is singing his praises right now.
If you can compare the Canucks slump-streak to a labour dispute, the Canucks are running on essential services (Kevin Bieksa, Roberto Luongo, Cory Schneider, Ryan Kesler, Stanchion), and Jannik Hansen is an extracurricular activity.
2. Shea Weber
Is still not a Canuck.
3. They Shoot Henrik Don’t They?
Scary, scary moment in the first when Henrik Sedin took a Kevin Klein slapshot off the ankle and looked like he was headed to the glue factory.
Henrik out for a long period of time would leave the Canucks more inept than Kevin Kline in A Fish Called Wanda.
By the way, to further underscore theincongruities and cognitive dissonance required when talking about the slump-streak, Henrik still leads the league in assists by six despite phoning it in during most of 2012.
And with a flute up their nose, the Vancouver Canucks.