That wonderful video is courtesy of Paul Almeida and it pretty much sums up everything wrong with the Canucks powerplay right now: they’re generating a lot of shots, they can’t score on any of their shots, and Dan Hamhuis is on it. Now, we’re big Dan Hamhuis fans here on Canucks Army, but the simple fact of the matter is that Vancouver is better off having literally anybody on the powerplay in place of Hamhuis at the moment. The good news is that it looks like Mike & Gully have heeded our desperate pleas ahead of tonight’s game against the Phoenix Coyotes and have taken Hamhuis and Kevin Bieksa off the first unit powerplay in favour of Jason Garrison and Yannick Weber.
The bad news is that this comes at the expense of David Booth.
Now, I can hear some of you snickering right now. "David Booth!?" you may say. "What the hell good is David Booth!?" you may say. Well, David Booth is absolutely a useful player, and benching him, especially in light of recent injuries and scoring woes, is an insane move. We’ll get into why after the break.
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Expecting Booth to be out tomorrow and the Canucks to dress 7 dmen (Y. Weber on 4L)
— Jason Botchford (@botchford) January 25, 2014
This means that the Canucks coaching staff feels like a collection of Zac Dalpe, Brad Richardson, Tom Sestito, Dale Weise and Kellan Lain give the team a better chance to win than David Booth does. First of all, despite all of his well-documented goal scoring struggles, Booth is 6th on the Canucks in goals/60 min in the past 3 seasons despite an atrocious shooting percentage. He’s also 140th in the league during this time, which puts him comfortably in "top-6 forward" territory. This is also a more prolific rate than David Backes, Henrik Zetterberg, Loui Eriksson, Paul Stastny, Dustin Brown, Bryan Little, Mike Richards, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, and TJ Oshie. Dimitri pointed out yesterday that Booth has scored at a 17-goal pace for the Canucks in his past 105 games, which would put him second on the team this year.
Of course, this isn’t even taking into consideration all the little less-noticable things that David Booth does to help gain the Canucks small advantages. By now, you all know he’s been a traditionally strong possession player. That’s taken a hit this year, mostly due to dragging Brad Richardson (his most frequent linemate) around the ice:
Even so, David Booth is still 4th on the Canucks in on-ice GoalsFor% this year, has a positive RelCorsi%, and draws a ton of penalties while taking extremely few. In other words, when David Booth is on the ice the Canucks are more likely to either score the next goal than they are to concede the next goal, or they are more likely to be put in a position where they have a greater chance of scoring the next goal.
The fact that David Booth is overpaid is irrelevant. You have to win hockey games, and the fact of the matter is that David Booth in your lineup gives you a better chance to win a hockey game than having Zac Dalpe or Kellan Lain does. Especially since Vancouver’s forward depth has taken a major blow at the hands of Martin Hanzal, guys that have the potential to score a goal or even generate a scoring chance shouldn’t be removed from the lineup before TOUGHNESS and BIG BODY PRESENCE are. At least the guy taking Booth’s spot (Weber) looks to be suiting up on the powerplay.
|Corsi Close %||51.6% (10th)|
|5v5 GF/60||2.28 (14th)|
|5v5 GA/60||2.08 (8th)|
|5v4 GF/60||4.52 (26th)|
|5v4 SF/60||60.4 (3rd)|
|4v5 GA/60||3.86 (2nd)|
|4v5 SA/60||39.9 (1st)|
If you remember last time the Canucks and Coyotes met, Martin Hanzal made it his personal duty to not only defeat the Canucks, but to eradicate them from the NHL. His campaign of carnage started with a cross-check to the face of the aforementioned David Booth, earning him a $5,000 fine. He then caused a reported shoulder injury to Mike Santorelli off of a faceoff that may cause the smaller Canuck to miss the remainder of the season. Hanzal capped off the hattrick of destruction with a stiff crosscheck to Henrik Sedin’s ribs. Sedin suited up for part of the next game before being shut down by John Tortorella, and hasn’t played since.
Vancouver is understandably not very happy with Mr. Hanzal. Dale Weise had some ominous words for the Coyotes forward here, but we’ll see what happens tonight. It’s difficult to imagine with all the time and effort that Tortorella have poured in to making Vancouver "tougher" and "stiffer" that Hanzal will escape this game without at least dropping his gloves.
Granted, it would be in Vancouver’s best interest not to get transfixed on exacting revenge. The Coyotes sit just 4 points behind Vancouver in the Pacific Division with a game in hand, so these are two points that Vancouver desperately needs.
|Corsi Close %||49.4% (17th)|
|5v5 GF/60||2.35 (12th)|
|5v5 GA/60||2.25 (15th)|
|5v4 GF/60||7.11 (7th)|
|5v4 SF/60||52.1 (13th)|
|4v5 GA/60||7.53 (27th)|
|4v5 SA/60||60.0 (25th)|
Here’s to hoping that Mike Smith gives up more than zero goals tonight.