Courtesy Fuck Yeah, Chris Higgins
[Note: this doesn’t include Friday’s game against the Blues]
Last week when we chatted the Canucks were running on fumes after two consecutive losses to the Oilers and Blues, the latter being Vancouver’s third depressing shutout of the short season. Since then they blew up for 12 goals in two wins over the Caps and Flames before the Wild smacked them back down to earth. Sigh.
This week we praise some offensive depth and get irked at lazy Swedish twins. No not the Westerholm’s.
Living High Off The Hog
> Maxime Lapierre: Lapierre’s five points (3G, 2A) are more than either Guillaume Desbiens or Alexander Bolduc – two of Vancouver’s fourth liner pluggers last season – had in 2010-2011 combined. But forget points (if you’re looking to the fourth line for consistent offense your name may be the Columbus Blue Jackets) and consider how Vigneault is using Lapierre: he’s doing some heavy lifting in the defensive zone, trailing only Volpatti, Ebbett and Weise for offensive zone starts, leaving The Puck Stops Here to suggest (albeit far prematurely) that the Joker is the early Selke nominee. Ponder that for a second. Angus J took a closer look at him as well.
> Chris Higgins: The Professor deserves to stick around here for a second week: three points (all goals), including a power play marker against Washington and despite being shuffled back to Malhotra’s line in favor of Hodgson playing with Kesler. He currently leads the team in goals and forwards in blocked shots (6). He’s proving to be the best deadline acquisition Vancouver has made since Eric Weinrich! (reminding you that guy and his yellow visor were actually on the team in exchange for a 2006 third rounder that could have netted the Canucks Clutterbuck or Marchand is mean and you have my humble apologies…mainly for mentioning Marchand).
Your Sins Will Find You Out
> The Sedin’s PIMs: Guess who ranks behind the entire fourth line and both top minute guys on defense (Bieksa/Hammer) in terms of most PIMs? Yup, the twins who each have 14 PIMs in 13 games. Daniel is tied for the worst hooking offender (snicker) in the league with three infractions so far (in truth he may lead the league right now after his hooking call against Minnesota but CBS hasn’t updated yet). Two problems here: first the "vaunted" Vancouver PP is less vaunty when you put one of them in the box. Secondly their penalties are often when the opposition breaks out of their zone and they’re caught out of position or lost a stride on the puck carrier. In other words they’re lazy and usually avoidable.
> Bieksa? Edler? Hammer? Fine everyone on defense not named Sulzar: Only twice last year did an opponent score five goals against the Canucks but this season they matched that effort in just 13 games. This isn’t about pointing at Luongo or Schneider. This isn’t even about missing Ehrhoff, losing Salo for a spell or missing the defensive stalwart that is Aaron "I texted" Rome. Collectively, the defensive regulars have brought the suck far more frequently than is acceptable. Even his three points against the Capitals didn’t save Edler from more defensive miscues and all around questionable timing. In the loss to the Wild Bieksa’s frequent snow angels forced him to call it one of his worst performances ever. When the big guns stumble the deck of cards falls apart and opponents have clued in on that.
The Spirit Is Willing But The Flesh Is Weak
> Manny Malhotra: Of 670 players tracked on NHL.com, Mr. Money ranks at #669 with a gaudy +/- of -10 which, incidently, is also the worst on the team. Some of this isn’t his fault: as the Canucks have struggled offensively, he’s been subject to new wingers and overall poor production. He is still dealing with the fallout from his eye injury back in March. Despite these issues he’s still ranked 2nd on the team in face-offs (59.4%) and leads all forwards in PK TOI. It’s one thing if he isn’t the Malhotra we grew to love last season, it’s another to cough up a -4 as he did against Minnesota which was a game where they needed their checking line to step up and limit the waves of opposition chances.