James C Edgington
January 08 2010 12:58PM
A few months ago the fate of the Vancouver Canucks was far from glorious. Currently it is very hard to find fault with the team. Vancouver is doing every thing right; unless there is a major disaster this team should easily secure a place in the playoffs.
One of the reasons the Canucks are now looking like a formidable team is due to the performance of the Sedin twins especially Henrik Sedin. Henrik is not only proving to be one of the most valuable members of his team he is also officially one of the best players in the league as he leads the NHL in points with sixty one. If that wasn’t enough he was awarded the title of NHL player of the month for December. When Daniel Sedin missed 18 games due a foot injury, questions were asked as to how Henriks play would be affected with his brother’s absence. The answer was that Henrik managed to cope very well without his shadow Daniel. Since Daniel’s return the twins along with fellow line mate Alex Burrows have been showing teams that the Canucks first line is a force to be reckoned with. In last night’s game against the Coyotes, Burrows scored his second consecutive hat trick. That makes Burrows the first Canucks player to score three goals in succession since the 1986-87 season when Petri Skriko did it last.
Vancouver’s present success cannot only be attributed to the first line; players like Raymond, Kesler, and Samuelsson have all been contributing to the team’s current string of victories. There are approximately five Canucks players who are on pace to score twenty or more goals.
Kyle Wellwood unfortunately may struggle to score twenty goals this season. Wellwood’s season has so far not gone to plan with only four goals in thirty seven games, on a plus note he does have four points in the last eight games. Wellwood does appear very suited to his role as a third line centre man, however he needs to improve and increase the amount of goals he scores during the remainder of the season. Wellwood’s line mates of Bernier and Glass have both played a valuable role on the team.
Defensively Vancouver fairs well compared to other teams in the league. Vancouver is sat seventh in the league with goals against (105). The most notable name on defense for Vancouver is Christian Ehrhoff. Ehrhoff leads all NHL players with a plus minus rating of + 23 he is also fifth in the NHL for most goals scored by a defenseman, he has nine goals. Clearly Mike Gillis made the right decision when he acquired Ehrhoff from San Jose. Certain players like Sami Salo and Alex Edler need to produce more offensively.
Having a good goalkeeper can often be paramount to success in the NHL. After a somewhat shaky start and then enduring another injury, Luongo is now playing on top form. In thirty seven games he has a save% of .923 and a GAA of 2.21.When backup keeper Raycroft has played he has shown that he can play well, winning four of the seven games as the starter.
Vancouver’s special teams performance is quite reasonable too, the PP% is fourth in the league. The PK% is thirteenth in the league. Vancouver has played forty-four games thus far, with thirty-eight left on the schedule. Vancouver currently has the potential and talent to evolve into one of the best teams in the Western Conference. If the Canucks continue to perform in the same vain that has helped to elevate them to the fifth place in the West then the season could well be a memorable one for all the right reasons.
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