I imagine Thursday cannot come fast enough for you either. At least we will have an opponent to think about then, in anticipation of Sunday night. This having no game to look forward to, after about a month of hockey on a day on, day off diet, is a bit jarring and disconcerting.
Like hearing weird sounds a week after you drove that great deal off the used car lot. OK, maybe not that. But maybe like this. Disconcerting in a funny way. (Sorry for the ad. 5 minutes of MXC. Its worth it ) Regardless, to keep the natives from getting restless, and because I am bored, here are some numbers to chew on. Keep in mind that the Canucks have played 13 games. SJ and Det will have played 13 and 11 respectively by Thursday, but right now have one less, so, some perspective.
There are still a few impressive numbers when you did around NHL.com stats...( Here is a fun way of looking at numbers. in the 8 games against the Wings and Sharks combined this past year, the Canucks are 5-0-3, and in those games, the Sedin Twins combined for 24 points ) Huh ? Huh? Come on! The Twins HAVE to bust out next series, don't they?
Like AV says..."Bust a gut guys".
- As always, it starts with My Kesler. He leads the NHL with his 15 points ( 5G/10A ).
The one handed man Pavel Datsyuk is pretty sick though. In ten games instead of thirteen, he is only one behind ( 3G / 11A) the kesLORD (BTW, just reading around various hockey related threads and whatnot, the nickname has jumped to at least a couple of the HB kids, for what that is worth. No word on the LuonGOD traction though )
Ryan Clowe missed one game and is one behind them at 13 points(4G / 9A )...while some kid named Logan Couture is pretty dangerous too, with 11 points ( 5G / 6A ).
Daniel Sedin is next of the Western players left in with 6 goals to lead his team, and 10 points, one more than his older brother Henrik Sedin, who has 9 points ( 1G / 8A ). Some guy name Joe Thornton has 10 points in 12 games ( 2G / 8A ), but I hear he is a bigger choker than our choker (s). Oh, and Detroit's Henrik Zetterberg has 7 points ( 2G / 5A) in only 6 games played so far. I hear he is good.
- Defensemen in the next series will be counted on to do more than just defend. Not constrained by the relentless style of "grind" like their last opponent ( and LA tried to grind..well...everyone after Kopitar and Williams went down, but the Sharks as well, and that is kinda how the Yotes play as a default as well. )...the point is that there will probably be a fair amount more of the defenders jumping into the play. No offense to the Predators, but we are in for some entertaining hockey no matter who the opponent is come Sunday night.
The Mad German Christian Ehrhoff leads the blue liners in the NHL with 2 G and 9 points. In one game less to date, Dan Boyle has the exact same numbers, and some old guy they like to call the "Perfect Human " Niklas Lidstrom has 4 G and 8 points in only 10 games. ( Pfft...Duncan Keith had 4 against us alone Nik'...Ha...wait a minute. )
Some real fun with Numbers ;
- Hits is a little skewed by the games played , but look at this list here . ( click on each category for the best in each. God I love NHL.com and their real time stats! ) Maxim Lapierre leads the league with 49 hits. Douglas Murray has 46 in 12 games, but he is a defenseman ( and SJ's biggest hitter, literally and figuratively ). Kevin Bieksa at 45, Alexander Edler with 43 and My Kesler again at 42. ( SOB should have no problem getting a job if the Preds let him walk. He is tied with Kes' at 43, 12 more than some guy named Shea Weber, both with a dozen games.
Christopher Higgins and Devin Setoguchi are the next heaviest hitters in the West with 31 hits in 13 and 12 games respectively. Dan Hamhuis with 28 in 13, Ryan Clowe 27 in 12 games, which is how far we have to drop to get to the Wing's biggest bopper, Darren Helm, with 27 in 10 games. Justin Abdelkader has 2 less in the same number of games, as do Torrey Mitchell and Scott Nicholl, both with 25 in 12 games. Noted big hitter Niklas Kronwall has only 23 in 10 games, but reports are that every one hurt.
But its safe to say that maybe those other teams' fans might have had a point with calling the Canucks big meanies. Those numbers also tell me that the maybe the Wings winning would mean a less taxing series physically. The team numbers bear that out, but not by much. Its actually pretty close. The Canucks lead the NHL by far with 436 total hits ( SJ - 339, Detroit - 299. ) They lead at home with 261 hits. San Jose is far behind that with one less game with 173 total whacks. The Wings, in only ten games, are only four behind the Sharks with 169 hits at the Joe.
The Canucks kicked ass on the road too. Granted, they have the one more game. But its closer with the Sharks here. The Canucks hit someone 175 times on the road, the Sharks 166, and the Wings, in their less games, only 130 hits. Bottom line? Maybe both teams will be willing to hit, and the Wings seem to want to put on a show more at home, with the Sharks maybe wanting to make an "impact" more on the road. But if the Canucks continue to play hard and finish checks, they could actually be the more physical team in the next series. Bigger Shark forwards notwithstanding. The myth that the Wings don't hit that much, at home anyway, seems busted though. And Kronwall has that reputation. Maybe we put Keith Ballard in and tell him to unleash the Hips of Hell in Game 1 before being banished back to the press box, just to send a message!
- Blocking shots is all about effort too. The top 4 shots blockers in the playoffs are all Lightning ( Brewer 43/ Ohlund 36, Clark and Hedman 31 each ) The Sharks have Murray with 29 blocks, Marc Edouard Vlasic has 28, before we get to Edler with 27 ( again, the same as Niklas Kronwall ), and two more than Dan Hamhuis with 25. As teams, both the Sharks and Wings have blocked more shots in less games compared to the Canucks. ( SJ-96 / Det-95 / Van-70 ) Perhaps the forwards for the opponents get in front of more shots? Looks that way.
- Faceoffs though, its funny. You can look at the numbers and they will tell you something. I did not find the page with the zone draws, but Ryan Kesler leads the NHL by a wide margin with 185 face off wins in 13 games. He has a 53.8%. Does that mean that 3rd place ( injured Patrice Bergeron had 163 wins in 11 games played for a 64.2% ) guy Joe Thornton, with 139 wins and a 60.4% is better at draws? Henrik Sedin has 10 less wins with 129, but of top guys in face off wins, he is just under 50% at 48.1. He does give the Canucks a pretty good one two with Kesler, as they have different strong sides. And Lapierre is pretty good when asked to, with 73 wins and a 56.6%. That is only six less than the Wings' top guy. Datsyuk is a 56.8% for 79 wins. Joe has a couple good guys too, with Joe Pavelski winning 94 for a 53.1%. Some kid name Couture has won 74 for a 48.7 %. It is all about the matchup, and who knows? But maybe the Sharks are more dangerous on draws for the Vancouver team as well.
As teams, the Sharks are the #1 team in playoff % with a 54%.. The Canucks are at 51.2 % and the Wings 49.4%. But the Canucks won more draws by far with 448 to the Sharks 408 total draws won in one less game, and the Wings 305 in ten games to date. Those numbers will close up a bit after Thursday. But the Canucks should feel OK about faceoffs in the next series. Pretty well guaranteed that Kesler and Thornton and/or Datsyuk will be the #1 matchup.
It's close, in all the "bust a gut" categories, but the Canucks should feel OK with whomever they get. Some of the above numbers, you have to consider the extra game or two, but still.
If nothing else, I did something constructive in the spare couple hours I had!