Written by: Larry "The Nucks IceMan" Johnson
So here we are at the twenty game mark and it’s time for some beefs, bouquets, surprises, and disappointments.
Let’s start out with the surprises .
Injuries and the amount of them after just 20 games into the season—must be some kind of a record.
No less than 10 players have been out of the lineup for extended periods of time. Through all this the Canucks have been able to post a 10-10 record, which is tied for seventh spot in the Western Conference.
Coach Vigneault has done a remarkable job in juggling the bodies he does have, getting the team to play that shut down style of hockey, which has allowed them to stay in the hunt with the rest of the pack.
Another surprise is the remarkable play of Andrew Raycroft. In filling in for Roberto Luongo, Raycroft has posted a four and two record, a GAA of 2.18 and a save percentage of .916.
Sure he has been pulled in a couple of games, but in all fairness to him, the team in front of him stunk up the joint.
Although not a surprise, because I had already made that suggestion before he actually played as a forward, I thought Kevin Bieksa played pretty decently up front. I still feel he would make a better forward and it would not be the first time that has happened, if you think back to Scott Walker.
Cory Schneider, what a pleasant surprise and did he ever play well against Dallas. If he gets the opportunity again and follows up with another one of those exclamation marks, maybe the Canucks will have a blue chip prospect after all.
Michael Grabner before he went down, looked like he had found his NHL scoring touch and was here to stay. Who knows what the lineup will look like when he returns, but if he can get back to his pre-injury play, someone's going to be on the outside looking in.
You hear that Mr. Wellwood.
Willie Mitchell with two goals topping Sami Salo and Alex Edler, both with ZERO goals!
The Canucks with all the injuries being able to play at a .500 level followed closely by Andrew Raycroft.
I’m not going to repeat what I wrote about in my last article “Vancouver Canucks: Two Pieces of the Puzzle,”but instead, comment on what I’m waiting to see, as in waiting to see what the team will look like with a healthy lineup.
You really can’t judge this team until that happens, and I’m sure at some point in the season that will materialize.
Henrik Sedin, without his twin brother Daniel, sure does look lost out there. He’s not the only one that misses Daniel, speak to Alex Burrows about that also, but this is about Henrik.
To his credit though, he still is churning out the point a game average and leads the Canucks in scoring.
That said, too many nights you barely notice him.
No it’s not Alex Edler, but instead a player that I thought would remember the agitating style that got him to the NHL, Alex Burrows.
Rumours have it that he’s playing with an injury but because of the numbers, he’s toughing it out. If so, he gets a mulligan.
With the team so badly beat up, I think I’ll pass on it this time.
Who would have ever though that Christian Ehrhoff would be the top defenseman, not only in points but overall play? That was a shrewd move by GM Mike Gillis, when the thinking was, what are they going to do with eight Dmen?
Ehrhoff has brought mobility to the back end, a presence on the power play and has taken care of his defensive responsibilities with a plus-six rating.
What a quick turnaround. After being on my disappointment list after the ten game mark, Mason Raymond goes out and posts six goals in the next 10 games.
Not only is Raymond playing with new found confidence but he looks on line for his breakout year. With the already “speed to burn” quickness, you now add in some scoring touch, and you get a player who looks dangerous every time he touches the puck.
Without a doubt, Ryan Kesler has been the best Canuck to date this year. He’s currently second in team scoring, brings it every night, at both ends, leads by example, plays with passion (you hear that Alex) and is my choice for a Frank Selke candidate.
He just keeps elevating his game and if you thought he had a good season last year, well this year should top that.
Right now he is the heart that pumps the Canucks fragile body.
So with the positive view that the Nucks will get back most of the injured players in the next 10 games, I look forward and visualize what the real team will look like.
Now that looks promising!