Vancouver Canucks, 2009-10
Goals For: 272 2nd
Goals Against: 222 11th
GVT: 50 3rd
Points: 103 6th
VUKOTA Projection for 2010-11
Goals For: 247 3rd
Goals Against: 225 6th
GVT: 21 3rd
Points: 99 3rd
Quietly one of the best franchises in the league for the last several seasons, the Vancouver Canucks haven't really gotten their due, largely because of several early playoffs exits. Could it be different in 2010-11?
We know what a point producer Ryan Kesler has turned into this season, but check out some of the little things he was already doing before, in Vancouver's top three in takeaways/giveaway, net penalties and faceoffs.
Canucks top forwards, by 2009-10 stats
Shots/60: Daniel Sedin 11.2, Mikael Samuelsson 10.3, Mason Raymond 9.2
Hits/60: Tanner Glass 14.1, Rick Rypien 11.1, Jeff Tambellini 6.8
Blocked shots/60: Rick Rypien 3.0, Ryan Kesler 2.7, Alexandre Burrows 2.2
Takeaways/giveaway: Jannik Hansen 6.7, Alexandre Burrows 3.0, Ryan Kesler 3.0
Net penalties/60: Ryan Kesler +1.0, Mason Raymond +0.8, Henrik Sedin +0.2
Faceoffs: Manny Malhotra 62.5*, Ryan Kesler 55.1%
Canucks top defensemen, by 2009-10 stats
Shots/60: Christian Ehrhoff 6.0, Alexander Edler 5.6**, Sami Salo 5.1**
Hits/60: Andrew Alberts 11.4, Dan Hamhuis 5.4*, Keith Ballard 5.1*
Blocked shots/60: Keith Ballard 6.6*, Andrew Alberts 4.6, Alexander Edler 4.0**
Takeaways/giveaway: Kevin Bieksa 1.0, Dan Hamhuis 0.9*, Christian Ehrhoff 0.6
Net penalties/60: Dan Hamhuis +0.0*, Keith Ballard -0.1*, Christian Ehrhoff -0.1, Sami Salo -0.1
Minimum 40 games played
Canucks goaltenders, 2009-10 and 2010-11 stats
After a subpar 2009-10 campaign, Roberto Luongo is back to a normally excellent .926 overall save percentage and a .933 even strength save percentage thus far in 2010-11.
Save percentage .913 / .926
Even strength save percentage: .925 / .933
Power play save percentage: .860 / .887
Shorthanded save percentage: .917 / .968
Cory Schneider (2 games)
Save percentage .915 / .926
Even strength save percentage: .939 / .923
Power play save percentage: .714 / .939
Shorthanded save percentage: 1.000 / .900
2009-10 statistics / 2010-11 statistics shown above
Though excellent players through 65 minutes, Alexandre Burrows (25.0%), Alexander Edler (22.2%), Daniel Sedin (20%), Mikael Samuelsson (14.3%) are not strong options in the shootout. And strangely, Henrik Sedin (0.0%) has only been afforded two career attempts. On the other side of the ice, Luongo has been very average in the skills competition throughout his career, and actually below average of recent.
Best options, shooters with 10 or more career attempts
Jeff Tambellini: 61.5% (8 for 13)
Ryan Kesler: 31.0% (9 for 29)
Raffi Torres: 30.0% (3 for 10)
Mason Raymond: 25.0% (3 for 12)
Best options, shooters with a limited track record
Manny Malhotra: 33.3% (1 for 3)
Joel Perrault: 25.0% (1 for 4)
Roberto Luongo: .682 career (118 for 173), .643 in 2009-10, .444 in 2010-11
Cory Schneider: .000 career (0 for 3)
THE BIG QUESTIONS FACING THE CANUCKS
The quotes below occurred after the January 17 shootout victory against the New York Islanders.
Big Question #1: Where did the incredible power play come from? Can they keep producing at this rate?
Ryan Kesler: "We're just playing unpredictable. We don't have one or two things that work. We really use all five guys on the ice, and really don't have any set plays. We just read and react off each other and that's the biggest thing".
Timo says: Recently passed by Chicago (24.3%), Vancouver still has an awesome 24.2% power play. Of the Canucks getting significant power play time, Daniel Sedin (8.49 power play points per 60), Henrik Sedin (6.46), Christian Ehrhoff (6.38), Alexander Edler (5.78) and Ryan Kesler (5.38) have performed the best.
Answer: They've got some elite players that are hitting their peak, that have developed a nice chemistry together, not only on the power play but at even strength as well. Yes, more or less.
Big Question #2: Can Vancouver win the Stanley Cup?
Ryan Kesler: "[We] just need to keep improving. Right now, we've got to focus on winning games and when that time comes, we just really need to stay focused and not let the past affect us."
Kevin Bieksa: "We gave up a lot of shots
We'd like to be a bit tighter defensively."
VUKOTA says: We predicted the Canucks to finish 2nd in offense and 11th on defense. Currently, they're outperforming our goal prevention projection thanks to excellent goaltending.
Timo says: Vancouver is 2nd in the NHL with 3.35 GF per game, 3rd with 2.26 GA, 1st with 1.09 GD, 3rd with 1.37 GF/GA at 5-on-5, 2nd with a 24.2% power play, 4th with a 85.6% penalty kill, 7th with 32.4 SOG and 19th with 30.6 SOGA. Not too bad.
Answer: The Canucks definitely can win it all, but they face the same problem they've faced in the previous few seasons: the Western Conference. It's really, really hard to emerge from amongst all of the great teams in the West.
Big Question #3: Are the Canucks mentally tough enough to succeed and advance in the postseason?
Roberto Luongo: "Obviously, we're a year older as a team and we added some pieces that we needed to add in the offseason to address some needs that we had. So those guys have fit in really well with us and I think it's what's putting us a step ahead of where we were last year."
Timo says: Sorry, but it's a myth that the Canucks aren't mentally strong enough to win. What, did someone else beat the Chicago Blackhawks last postseason?
Answer: Good teams win, that's generally all there is to it.
Timo Seppa is an author of Hockey Prospectus.
You can contact Timo by clicking here or click here to see Timo's other articles.