Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images
The Canucks have become harder to push around.
After nine games, the Canucks have taken seven major penalties, tying them for seventh in the NHL standings, according to hockeyfights.com. In 2010-11, when the team was widely accused of being pushed around by the Boston Bruins in the Stanley Cup Finals, they took just 31 majors all year, ranking them 22nd overall.
Boston was third that year, by the way.
Vancouver remains a skill team whose speed is its biggest asset. Last season, the Canucks got tougher and that trend continues this year. So far, Aaron Volpatti, Bieksa, Kassian and Dale Weise have all dropped the gloves. Other willing pugilists on the roster include Max Lapierre, Keith Ballard and Booth, as well as extra defensemen Andrew Alberts, Cam Barker and Jim Vandermeer.
Using Kassian, in particular, in a top six role helps to ensure that other teams won't take liberties with players like the Sedin twins. Henrik has shown some spunk of his own, too, laying the most meaningful hit of the night on public enemy No. 1, Duncan Keith, last week against the Chicago Blackhawks.
Henrik has eight hits in nine games and is easily on track to surpass his total of 32 from all of last season. As a team, the Canucks have moved up the hit chart from 18th last year to 12th so far in 2012-13. If they continue this physical style of play, the Canucks' reputation as a hard team to play against can only increase.