Weekly Canucks Report: Week of January 16-22
Who Had a Good Week:
Henrik Sedin- You had to know Henr1k would be here. Not only did the captain hit a major milestone, he ended the week with two game winning goals and an assist in three games. Best of all, Henrik seemed to control the play better than he has all season, and was definitely the catalyst in the improved play of his line.
Daniel Sedin and Loui Eriksson- Daniel and Loui didn’t have quite the week that Henrik did, but the entire unit played much better than on previous stints together. This line seems to be just on the verge of finding major chemistry and breaking out offensively.
Ryan Miller- Miller is the number one reason the Canucks have climbed so high in the standings. His play in the week’s two wins, in particular, was very strong, and even in the loss to Chicago he put up 31 saves. If the Canucks remain in playoff contention, they realistically can’t trade a goalie that is playing this well.
Luca Sbisa- Sbisa is making a good case for Las Vegas to take a good, hard look at him. Sbisa is playing extremely solid hockey on a pairing with Chris Tanev, and even put up two points in three games this week. One of the few players that consistently hits.
Nikita Tryamkin- Tryamkin seemed to rediscover his physical game this week, and it had predictably dramatic results. He is at his best when he uses his size to his advantage, and that requires bodychecking, so it will be interesting to see if Tryamkin can maintain the physical play.
Who Had a Rough Week:
Reid Boucher- It wasn’t much of a debut for Reid Boucher. Despite it being a game against one of his former teams, Boucher played six minutes and didn’t make much of an impression. He did have a nice hit, but wasn’t given a chance beyond that. Desjardins must be unimpressed with something in his game.
Troy Stecher- Stecher started the week sick, and had a tough time recovering. His offensive game continued to be strong, but he was noticeably overwhelmed on a couple of occasions by top opponents, particularly against Chicago. It may have been wiser to keep Stecher out of the lineup to recover, and just playing Pedan or Subban.
Markus Granlund- When Granlund isn’t contributing offensively, he can often appear invisible. Again, having Jayson Megna on his line can’t be helping, but this was still an off week for Granlund.
The Trade Deadline is fast approaching, and every pending game becomes that much more important in determining the Canucks’ roster strategy. If this strong play continues, there is no way the team sells anyone at the deadline, even if it resists the temptation of rental players. Fans hoping for a windfall of draft picks may be disappointed unless the next month sees a major losing streak.
The return of Jannik Hansen might be the thing that stops the Canucks from acquiring any rentals at the deadline if they remain in playoff contention. The reasoning will be that reinserting Hansen is better than any potential rental, and thus no draft picks will be expended.
Drew Miller, brother of Ryan, is on waivers, and some have mentioned the possibility of the Canucks reuniting the brothers. While a veteran fourth liner is far from a need on the Canuck roster, Miller does bring a lot of experience playing under Mike Babcock’s system. As far as intangibles go, he wouldn’t be the worst fill-in until Dorsett returns, assuming the team is finally willing to send Megna or Chaput back down.
Another NHL coach, Jack Capuano, was fired this week. Most preseason predictions named Willie Desjardins as the coach most likely to get the axe, but now it looks almost certain that Desjardins will finish the year as head coach.
Seeing Henrik Sedin score his 1000th point was great, but the fact that it came against long-time antagonist Shawn Thornton was the icing on the cake.
The traditional structure of the Comets’ schedule was altered this week, with them playing a mid-week back-to-back and only one weekend game. That did little to stop the roll that the Comets are on, as they won all three. The first game occurred Tuesday in St. John, a 5-2 win. Richard Bachman was in net, as he was for every game this week. Cody Kunyk and Pascal Pelletier each got two goals and an assist, and the suddenly surprising Evan McEneny picked up the reverse. Mike Zalewski also had a multi-point game with two assists.
The Comets followed up the very next night with a 3-1 victory over the same Ice Caps. Jake Virtanen snapped his cold streak with an assist on Wacey Hamilton’s opening goal. Borna Rendulic and Cody Kunyk got the other goals, meaning that Kunyk scored three of his five goals on the season in roughly 48 hours. Cole Cassels got a rare assist.
Perhaps most impressive was Utica’s Saturday shutout of the Syracuse Crunch. Kunyk kept up the hot play with a goal and an assist, and McEneny also scored one. Cassels and Archibald had the other goals, and the often offensive Alex Grenier and Curtis Valk picked up an assist each. Virtanen also notched an assist, as did Tom Nilsson, making his long-awaited return. Oddly enough, all four goals were scored in the third period.
By request, the season stats of some key Comets:
Alex Grenier- 38 GP, 13 G, 19 A, 32 P
Curtis Valk- 39 GP, 12 G, 15 A, 27 P
Jordan Subban- 34 GP, 9 G, 13 A, 22 P
Michael Chaput- 10 GP, 2 G, 11 A, 13 P
Jake Virtanen- 29 GP, 4 G, 5 A, 9 P
Joe LaBate- 19 GP, 2 G, 6 A, 8 P
Evan McEneny- 30 GP, 4 G, 3 A, 7 P
Cole Cassels- 33 GP, 5 G, 2 A, 7 P
Mike Zalewski- 21 GP, 1 G, 5 A, 6 P
Borna Rendulic- 37 GP, 3 G, 3 A, 6 P
Michael Carcone- 31 GP, 1 G, 4 A, 5 P
Marco Roy- 15 GP, 1 G, 3 A, 4 P
Jayson Megna- 4 GP, 1 G, 2 A, 3 P
Andrey Pedan- 22 GP, 2 G, 1 A, 3 P
Thatcher Demko- 21 GP, 9 wins, 2.84 GAA, .901 Sv%
Bits and Bobs:
-Henrik Sedin hitting 1000 points, and the resulting ovation, was a truly special moment. It may have taken longer than some fans predicted, but the wait was more than worth it in the end. Who could have predicted in 1970 that it would be 47 years before a Canuck hit 1000 points?
-Was the looming milestone potentially weighing on Henrik? It will be interesting to see if his line’s play improves noticeably moving forward.
-The much-awaited Jordan Subban call-up finally occurred, but only due to Pedan’s expiring waiver-free period. Subban is unlikely to play unless an injury occurs, although it would be nice to see him sub in for Biega for a game or two.
-The Canucks’ rivalry with Chicago is now all but dead. It will be interesting to see who Vancouver manages to develop a new rivalry with going forward. A Seattle team, which is probable in the next five years, is a perfect candidate.
-Make sure to enjoy these next two games, because the Canucks go six days without a game right after. They are off from January 26- February 1.
-This is because of the new, mandatory five day break that every NHL team will get this season.
-The Canucks might just need it, as they are starting a stretch that sees them play nine of eleven on the road. The road hasn’t exactly been friendly this year.
-It’s been a bit surprising to see how quickly many fans have jumped back onto the playoff bandwagon after the Canucks’ recent hot play. It is easy to see a major fan crisis occurring if the team ends up hovering around the edge of playoff contention.
-The darkest timeline is easy to see: The Canucks hover into and out of a playoff spot, right up until the final two games of the season, during which the Edmonton Oilers officially eliminate them. The team thus receives a middling draft pick and has no playoff appearance to show for it.