October 28 2010 11:30AM
Let's face it folks. We have six days between games and there isn't much to talk about in Canucks land right now.
The Rypien saga looks to be mostly contained. The Canucks don't have rookies in the lineup where they need to send them back to the minors or to junior. And the supposed goaltending "controversy" was all for naught.
So let's review the Canucks season so far. Why not, eh?
Let's start by looking at the Canucks' history in October in recent years. Since the lockout, the Canucks have only had one October where they finished below .500 (07-08, 5-7-0, 0.417). That year, the Canucks missed the playoffs. So the good news for Canucks fans in that Vancouver finished this October over .500. In fact, in terms of points percentage, this is their best October in four years. So there is hope, despite a couple of lop-sides losses already (6-2 in MIN, 4-1 in LA).
The Sedins continue to impress, both of whom are off to torrid starts offensively. Daniel already has 7 goals and 12 points, while Captain Henrik has 11A, which is tied for the league lead. However, they have been questionable on the defensive side of the game so far. While Henrik finished last year at +35, he finishes this October at -1. Same for Daniel, who was +36 last year, but is Even on +/- so far. Given their point totals to start the year, the +/- is a little alarming, especially for players who are known for their responsible play.
Despite 6 points through 9 games, Mikael Samuelsson has been mostly terrible this season. He's make poor decisions, had an uncountable number of his shots blocked, and seems to be labouring when he's on the ice. Maybe this is a conditioning issue, maybe he's fighting a bit of an injury or maybe he was simply unprepared to start the season. Whatever the reason, let's hope that Sammuelsson is using this break to refocus and recharge and hopefully get back to his "Sweden can go f--- themselves" form from last year. His linemates Kesler and Raymond appear to have finally warmed up, after a cool start. My personal feeling on their collective slow start is because of the rotation on the top 2 lines to try to get a matching that worked for everyone. Once Jeff Tambellini was put on the first line and the second line was reunited, they all seemed to find their form. Once Alex Burrows returns, which should be Monday or Tuesday, we should expect those top two lines to remain as such for a while.
Christian Ehrhoff and Alex Edler, both with 6 points thus far, have had to pick up some extra load with the injury absenses of Dan Hamhuis and Keith Ballard. Both Ehrhoff and Edler have played well, but have had games where they were clearly off. Both are used to playing with a more defensive partner, but because of those injuries, they've been paired together. So this is likely just a case of getting used to a new dance partner. With Hamhuis due back shortly, and everyone keeping their fingers crossed that Ballard will follow suit, both Ehrhoff and Edler will be able to return to a more stable defensive pairing in relatively short order.
As for some of the new additions, Manny Malhotra has been simply fantastic in the faceoff circle as well as defensively. He has been an anchor for the Canucks penalty killing unit and is bringing some much needed calm when he's on the ice short-handed. I can't say that I have been impressed with Raffi Torres thus far. He's had one tremendous game, and then been largely invisible. Granted he hasn't done anything to really hurt the team, so given that the Canucks are only paying him $1m for the year, they're getting their value out of him thus far. Of course, we'll give a pass to both Hamhuis and Ballard given their small sample set because of their respective injuries.
As for Roberto Luongo, he seems to have shaken off his typically slow starts earlier than normal. Yes, he did have a rough ride to begin the year, but he always does. He has been positively exceptional in his last two starts, going 1-0-1 with 4 total goals against. There is no goaltending controversy, but there is some healthy competition and two very capable goalies. And Canucks fans should be saying only one thing. FINALLY. Finally the Canucks have some stability and presence and strength in net that can last for an entire season and into the playoffs.