This is a photo of Daniel Sedin that I like. I call it "Pensive Ginger". (Credit: USA TODAY Sports)
This is a regular Friday feature combining a healthy mixture of observation, analysis, and foresight on the Vancouver Canucks. If you’d like to get at me about anything covered in this column, follow me on Twitter at @yyjordan and let’s start a textual relationship (wink).
1. It was great to see Kevin Bieksa back in the Canucks lineup last night, even if he sort of had a forgettable night. Ironically, I think he showed how valuable he is to this team as much in his absence as he did with his play before he hurt his groin. When the top six is missing its only right-handed top 4 defenceman, it looks like its being held together by spit and sock tape. Only question is who his long term partner is now.
2. Do you hear that? No? Just silence? Exactly. That’s the sound of the Jason Garrison haters. Despite playing a shutdown role alongside Dan Hamhuis and getting no significant power play time, he’s on a 12-goal pace for a full season, only 4 short of his much-talked about 16-goal performance last season. Gee it’s almost as if Canucks fans are too quick to write off new players or something.
3. Speaking of ridiculous fan criticism, remember when everyone used to give Mason Raymond shit for skating around the perimeter and never driving the net? Well, David Booth does that every single time he has the puck, and fans still give him shit. Some people just need something to complain about.
4. Would anyone be surprised to see Roberto Luongo take over the crease again for the next little while? He’s pulled the team out of a 4-game skid and has been christened with the coveted start against the Red Wings on Vancouver Millionaires night. He wasn’t sparkling against Nashville, but he did what he had to do. The upcoming schedule is fairly grueling, with 6 games in 9 nights including two back-to-backs, so Cory Schneider will get his chance again very soon.
5. How great was the Luongo/Schneider bit on TSN last night? Here it is if you missed it. Luongo has done a handful of those with James Duthie over the years, which is confusing because I’ve been led to believe that Luongo only started being a funny and relaxed guy once he became a backup! Can we officially lay that dumb narrative to rest now?
6. Jannik Hansen had a heck of a game last night. He’s riding the percentages a bit right now but who cares. If the Canucks were Community he would definitely be Abed. I bet he does his pre-game warm-ups in his private Dreamatorium. "Raymond and Hansen in the moooorning!"
7. Following the lead of teammate and other potential Canucks trade target Stephen Weiss, Kris Versteeg will undergo season-ending surgery. This should safely put Florida in the "Losouin for Drouin" sweepstakes, if they weren’t already. It’s too bad, because the man they call "Verbeauty" would have looked nice in a Canucks uniform. Dale Tallon seems comfortable starting the Jakub Markstrom era now, and with Weiss and Versteeg out long-term and Nick Bjugstad not on the table, I don’t see a fit between the Panthers and Canucks anyway. Sorry, Gina Luongo.
8. Stat shap: Dan Hamhuis, the team’s best overall defenceman, is -1 on the year. The past two season he’s been a +29. Has he actually been worse this season? No, he just has the lowest on-ice save % of any player on the team with 20+ games at 0.882. He’s the only defenceman under 0.900. Meanwhile, he’s handily winning the Corsi battle against tough competition. He’s the same guy he’s always been.
9. Steve Pinizzotto was probably the most hyped "energy player who’s never played an NHL game" in Canucks history, but he showed signs last night of why the team has been so anxious to get him in the lineup the past couple seasons. If he does prove to be "Aaron Volpatti with actual puck skill" as advertised, then that 4th line is looking pretty reliable.
10. More stat shap: Andrew Alberts starts nearly 67% of his shifts in the defensive zone, but he finishes 52% of his shifts in the offensive end. He’s pushing play forward, and with his big frame it’s relatively easy to see why AV is favoring him over Keith Ballard at the moment.