Alex Burrows is Crushing it Defensively this Season

Thomas Drance
April 11 2013 02:57PM

There's another side to Alex Burrows beyond the plethora of even-strength goals: his stellar defense.
Photo Credit: Jeff Vinnick via NHLI

The Frank J. Selke Trophy - awarded to the NHL's best defensive forward every season, as you probably know - is kind of like a Gold Glove in baseball: it tells us more about a player's reputation that it does about their real defensive utility.

Consider the example of Ryan Kesler, unquestionably one of the league's best two-way players over the past five seasons. For years Ryan Kesler was Vancouver's primary defensive ace, and a deserving Selke nominee (even winner). That was true up until 2010-11 when Kesler was deployed in a calibrated offensive role by Vancouver's coaching staff. With Manny Malhotra soaking up the toughest matchups, the most short-handed ice-time among all Canucks forwards, and the bulk of defensive zone draws - Kesler took advantage and scored forty goals on his way to winning, ironically, the Selke.

It's telling that Ryan Kesler, a defence-first forward for the majority of his career, finally won the award for "best defensive forward" in the NHL during the one season in his career that he had the least defensive responsibility. Anyway, one guy who won't be considered for the Selke this season, and who probably shouldn't be despite being an absurdly effective defensive presence all year, is Alex Burrows. We'll elaborate on the other side of the jump.

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On Mason Raymond's Playoff Production, or Lack Thereof

Thomas Drance
April 11 2013 11:13AM

Photo by Gerry Thomas/NHLI via Getty Images

For a variety of reasons, most notably his slender build and the fact that he had a tremendous run of awful puck luck in 2010-11, and followed up on it with a disappoiting season in 2011-12 coming off of a serious back injury, Mason Raymond catches a lot of flack from Canucks fans. He's a perimeter player who falls down a lot is the general critique - nevermind the solid underlying numbers - and his offense dries up in the playoffs.

But does it really when you break it down? In comparison with your average NHL player, does Mason Raymond have a unique habit of suddenly becoming an ineffective offensive player once the playoffs begin? I'll look into it on the other side of the jump.

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Chris Higgins and the Art of the (Penalty) Kill

Jeff Angus
April 11 2013 10:06AM

Chris Higgins is a very good hockey player. We have seen him thrive as a Canuck since coming over at the 2011 trade deadline, and the team rewarded his strong play with a $10 million contract extension last week. Higgins is currently out with an injury (somewhere on his lower body we have been told), which should keep him out of the lineup for an undetermined period of time. How's that for a report?

He is the type of player who can have no shots on goal, no goals, and no assists, and still have a strong game. Don't get me wrong, for $2.5 million per season (starting next year), the Canuck are hoping/expecting 15-20 goals a season. But Higgins does all of the "little things" at such an elite level, that he makes life a lot easier for his linemates and teammates.

Against the Oilers last week, his ability to excel at said "little things" was on full display.

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Roberto Luongo Reminds Us He's Still Good, Canucks Score 3 Late to Win 4-1: Recap and Chance Data

Dimitri Filipovic
April 11 2013 12:28AM

Roberto Luongo was called upon unexpectedly, and wound up reminding us that he's still very good.

Just hours before the drop of the puck for Wednesday night's game between the Calgary Flames and Vancouver Canucks, news broke that Cory Schneider was dealing with a flu bug and would not be able to be between the pipes. Enter Sandman Roberto Luongo, who was making just his first start since March 18th (a span of 11 games).

Not only did he show no rust, but he made 40 stops to keep his team in it until the skaters decided to get going roughly halfway through the 3rd period. After a barrage by the blue'n'white which saw them beat Miikka Kiprusoff three times in the span of 290 seconds, the Canucks held on for a 4-1 victory, padding their lead atop the Northwest Division.

Scoring Chance and Analysis of the Game Just Past the Jump.

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Game #40 Preview: Canucks @ Flames

Thomas Drance
April 10 2013 02:32PM

Photo Credit: The Canadian Press, Darryl Dyck

The Canucks are currently riding high in the saddle - they've won their last three games and have looked damn good doing it - and will kick off a five game roadtrip, their longest of the season, in Calgary tonight against the directionless suckhole franchise known as the Flames. 

Calgary were sellers at the trade deadline and have lost four of their last five - including a five-two loss to Vancouver this past weekend. They're in full on "hit the skids for Poppeye's kid" mode at the moment, and will be further short-handed tonight as Matt Stajan and Jiri Hudler will be out of the lineup per Brad Ziemer

The Flames are the worst and this should be an easy win for the Canucks. That is unless they take it too lightly and Kiprusoff stands on his head, in which case it could be a potential trap game. That's probably not how this contest will unfold though. Read more on the other side of the jump!

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