Edler Powers the Canucks
Prior to the opening season face-off it was speculated in this blog that Alex Edler was one of a select group of players that needed to step up for the Canucks in order to enhance their chances of returning to the finals. Edler has tremendous physical tools, with speed and great size and his calm demeanour also portends well for sound decision making.
So, will this be the year he moves to the front of the stage?
The early reviews look good. Following the road game in LA, Edler has scored an impressive 16 points in 16 games and is currently tied for first place in NHL defensemen scoring alongside Marc-Andre Bergeron of the traptastic Tampa Bay Lightning.
Last year Edler was 39th in defensemen scoring with 33 points in 51 games, his play then being limited due to recurrent injuries.
Taking last year’s harm plagued campaign out of the equation, if we go back to the 2009/10 season a fairer comparison can be made to demonstrate Edler’s progress.
In that year (over 76 games played) the big Swede managed 42 points, for a per game average of 0.533 points, as opposed to the current 1.000/game average.
The only negative on the stats front at this time for Edler is the -2 rating he holds at this point.
However, that fact is mainly symptomatic of the Canucks lacklustre start to the season, which does appear to be fading somewhat with the prominent wins in Chicago and LA.
The Vancouver power play, which features Edler’s play at the point, has improved dramatically following some early season hiccups.
Edler’s confident play proves that the loss of Christian Ehrhoff to the Buffalo Sabres has not caused the Canucks man advantage form to slip as many thought it might when the German departed for the larger contract, which was untenable for the Canucks under their meagre salary cap space.
Interestingly, Ehrhoff’s play seems to have regressed somewhat in the frigid environs of upstate New York where he has posted but 8 points in 14 games, and carries a plus/minus of negative 5.
So, how has Edler been able to elevate his play so successfully to date this year?
Well, it cannot hurt that Vigneault and Gillis had vocally expressed their assurances that Edler was ready to take command on the backline.
Once Ehrhoff had departed, the Canucks management was quick to announce that they did not feel it necessary to replace the German and that has done wonders to inspire Edler.
It was also very much a sage move on the part of coach V to pair Edler with the ageless Salo on a regular shift. Salo’s sound positioning and intelligent moving of the puck providing a template that the Swede can use to continue developing his game.
This early season form from Edler has been a beacon of stability for the Canucks as they emerge from their opening campaign fog.
Though he may not maintain this scoring pace all year, as long as Edler continues to learn to round off his game from his venerable defensive partner in Sami Salo, he will give Vancouver the type of go-to rearguard that the more successful teams require.
The soft spoken Swede will never offer the type of media friendly sound bites of a Bieksa or Kesler, but as long as his on ice play continues to do the talking for him, the Canucks management and the supporters will remain content.