January 18 2014 03:26PM
Image via Earl Sleek
The Vancouver Canucks have fallen on hard times lately. There aren't a lot of things going right for them these days, with all of the injuries and losing. As weird as it is to say this given the fact that they had endured a 9-1 drubbing the night before, I think the loss to the Phoenix Coyotes may've been something of a rock bottom for the team.
It was kind of the perfect microcosm for everything that has gone wrong in January; they looked completely listless for large stretches of the game, the power play was mindblowingly ineffective, they suffered a couple of injuries to players of varying importance, and they once again lost.
Fortunately, they're about to embark on a much more forgiving stretch in the schedule (we'd think), and it all starts when the Calgary Flames come to town on Saturday night.
Puck Drop: 7:00 PM PST
TV: CBC (*)
(*) This is a total blessing. You guys will be getting Rick Ball(er) on the call, escaping the wrath of Mark Lee. Regardless of the outcome of the game, you're all winners solely based on that piece of news. I keep saying "you" instead of "we" because I'll actually be at The Rog for this one. Dan Hamhuis will be on for After Hours, and I'll miss it, so if you'd be so kind I'd appreciate it if you'd let me know whether he cracks a smile at any point of the segment.
Canucks trolling with these "game time decisions". #embracethehate— Taj (@taj1944) January 18, 2014
That's of course in reference to the lack of concrete news we're receiving out of the Canucks camp heading into this game, particularly as it relates to Henrik Sedin. As recently as last night Murph, who's pretty plugged in when it comes to these things, tweeted that Hank was "50/50 at best" to play tonight.
And quite frankly, he probably shouldn't, given how much his injuries appear to be bringing down his overall game.. but he has a 679 game ironman streak going, and as un-Henrik Sedin-ish as he has been, the team still desperately needs him out there. Even against the Calgary Flames, sadly.
In other injury news, Mike Santorelli will be out tonight (and for some time beyond that I'd assume, after having been seen in a sling following Thursday night's game). That's a blow to the Canucks, no doubt, but it means that THE LAIN TRAIN will be making its NHL debut in his stead. He's enormous, and I like him going forward more than some others, but he certainly won't do anything to help this team put the puck in the net.. so it's hard to get overly excited about this piece of news.
Someone that may, though, is ironically enough a player that has no goals in 17 games this season. That player is Alex Burrows, who makes his return from a broken jaw he suffered all the way back on December 1st. The team has really missed his presence, averaging ~6 shot attempts/game fewer without him in the lineup. He's expected to jump right back on the top line with the Sedins, and on the top PP unit as the net front presence (putting an end to the KB3 fiasco). In turn, this means that Zac Dalpe is the odd man out for now, which is quite the turn of events (quick recap of his past 24 hours: Sedins 3rd wheel --> Healthy Scratch).
And finally, Roberto Luongo is back between the pipes. I'm sure that people will hold their breath every time someone brushes up into him around the crease, but by all accounts he's good to go (having been out this long as a precautionary measure more than anything else). It's nice that he gets to ease back into the mix with what may be the cakiest of cake matchups possible for a goalie right now..
Let's get to the underlying numbers:
|Corsi Close %||51.3% (11th)|
|5v5 GF/60||2.29 (14th)|
|5v5 GA/60||2.11 (9th)|
|5v4 GF/60||4.50 (27th)|
|5v4 SF/60||60.2 (T-3rd)|
|4v5 GA/60||3.82 (1st)|
|4v5 SA/60||39.9 (1st)|
For once, it appears that the Calgary Flames are committed to completely and utterly bottoming out. Which is wise, and also something they've seemed to be incapable of doing in recent years. They're 2-9 in their last 11 - which is the same number of wins as the Canucks have in that time.. wait a second, what?! - having scored a grand total of 12 goals in that time, and being shut out 5 times. Yep, that's bad. As is this graphic:
Considering all of that, you know what the hilarious part is? They still have 3 more points on the season than the Edmonton Oilers, with 2 games in hand. That is so perfect on so very many levels.
As bad as they've been they have a couple of very interesting pieces on that there team. One, is Michael Cammalleri, who unfortunately for them is out with a concussion right now (but is ultimately a player I'd assume they'd be able to get a nice little deadline return for, given his impending UFA status). In that same boat is Matt Stajan, who has managed to stay afloat in the possession game this season despite handling some vicious minutes (35.8 OZ start %, 0.944 Corsi Rel QoC). He's a legitimate two-way 3C that a contender would be wise to acquire on the cheap.
Mark Giordano is having a whale of a season, and really legitimately worked his way into the discussion for Team Canada at Sochi. TJ Brodie, his partner on the top pairing, is a legitimate shutdown defenseman at the NHL level. There's not much more than that, though. As you can see by the numbers they're basically horrendous at everything - except for special teams, with their PP being more efficient than that of the Canucks (lol) and their PK being somewhat decent.
|Corsi Close %||44.3% (27th)|
|5v5 GF/60||1.81 (28th)|
|5v5 GA/60||2.73 (29th)|
|5v4 GF/60||4.92 (23rd)|
|5v4 SF/60||45.6 (27th)|
|4v5 GA/60||6.57 (18th)|
|4v5 SA/60||49.3 (13th)|
[Stats via extraskater.com]
This bit may've been swept under the rug having been posted late Friday afternoon, so I figured I'd plug it again here. Our buddy Cam Charron did a nice job taking a look at the declining production for the Sedins. It's kind of depressing, but also informative and presented in a worthwhile manner. It's very Charron.
"Hockey is a cyclical game by nature and we're beginning to realize that with the Sedins. Don't expect them to produce like they have, points-wise, between now and the end of the season, but keep in mind they are hockey players, they are in their 30s, and the Canucks have to find a way to make the last juicy productive years out of them meaningful in some way."