Canucks Copulae

Derek Leung

Positively speaking, finding the numbers that speak to the positive. Or some such...

My apologies. I was going to be pumping these out like the rainbow does Skittles, but sometimes life gets in your way. Sorry about that.

Now, how the hell are we going to find some positive numbers after that Columbus game? Well, they did get the point against a team that really has the Trap down. But thats about it. Columbus is at least OK at home, as this one makes them 6-4-3. Onward and upward folks. I am sure this one will be forgotten by all but the coaching staff, and combined with a few other uneven performances, will surely be the whip the coaches will use to motivate the players ( YOU LOST TO THE WORST TEAM IN THE NHL!!! Now skate more lines you lazy buggers.... )

It has to be said, watching the clips from Schneider and Henrik Sedin here and here, there is no denying that the team is thinking positive. Thats a good thing, right? Sure it is.

So, even though its been a while, and the beatdown against the Kings on home ice seems like an age ago ( and seems like a different team ), let's see what we can come up with. Don't come down too hard on your humble scribe for trying to be positive.

77 - The number of shots that Alexandre Burrows has had this year. That leads his team. The 5 goals and 14 points is pretty good, and even though we agree that +/- is a sucky stat, so is his +8. But the numbers that bear watching is this. Since 2009, Burr's shooting % has been 16.0, 16.7, 17.1, and 14.1. Of course that is the same time period #14 was united with the Twins, but that is why there is hope. Because there is no way that he is going to be stuck on the 6.5 percent shooting percentage that he currently has. ( NHL.com has these numbers. BehindTheNet.com has his on ice shooting % at 10.43, and his on ice save % at .941..which gives him a strong PDO of 1045...but he can produce better ) The man is 3rd on his team in scoring at 5 goals and 14 points as it is!

1067 - The team leading PDO of one Jannik Hansen. Of course, we can all see that he is having a great season so far, so that should not be a big surprise. The 6 goals and 12 points also speak to that. And he is just a bit above his career shooting percentage of 10.6% at 11.5% right now. To me, the big number for the Honey Badger is that he is currently averaging 16:59 of ice time a night, compared to 14:53 last year. Thats a pretty decent jump. You can't put it all on the fact that Ryan Kesler is hurt and everyone else is doing a little bit more. They say that when a PDO is as high over 1000 as the Great Dane, it will come down. Perhaps. I would say it is just as likely that this is the real Jannik Hansen. It seems that the 2004 9th round pick ( 287th! ) has made yet another jump in his career. Perhaps it is just a hot "streak" or some such. We'll see. I know from watching his play over the years, that there is no one that works harder. Its sure is nice to see that hard work rewarded. I for one think there is still more to come from the new father of twins.

+13 - Yes, I know. Everyone hates plus / minus. But I just thought I would point out that Henrik Sedin is tied with a defenseman for the best +/- in the West ( Beauchemin ), and only 4 behind a five player logjam at the top. ( Kunitz, E Staal, Semin, Bergeron, and the most surprising, Mark Fraser of the Leafs are all +17 ) All 5 of his goals have come at 5 on 5, and only 5 assists of his 23 point total have come on the power play as well. That all helps a stat called " 5 on 5 F/A ratio". Basically, thats how many goals for compared to goals against. ( Chicago leads the NHL at 1.59, while Florida is 30th at 0.61 ) Vancouver is tied with the Bruins and Kings at 5th overall in the NHL. While I am not sure if the Columbus game is included in these numbers, when you have 61 total goals on the season, and have given up 58, having that strong of an even strength ratio, and having a player in the Top 10 in plus / minus is impressive. You have a pretty good team Canuck fans. This too shall pass.

+9 - Speaking of that flawed stat, I just thought I would remind everyone that Jason Garrison leads his teams' blueliners with the noted number. To give you an idea, Bieksa is still second on the team at +6, Mr Cool Christopher Tanev is next at +3, and Dan Hamhuis is +2. Ballard is even through 20 games, as is Barker in his few games, while Andrew Alberts is -1. While Alexander Edler is a team worst -4. Now, Hamhuis leads his team in scoring from the blue line at 2 goals and 12 assists, and Edler is next at 4 goals and 8 assists, but that should tell you that both those fellows have been on the ice for a fair amount more goals against than the White Rock native. While I know everyone was expecting immediate gratification when the team signed him, remember that Garrison was a bit streaky last year. He already has 3 goals and 1 assist this year....which, if I remember correctly, was similar to the same level of production he had in Florida early before going OFF last year. Don't forget this guy had 16 goals and 33 points in 77 games last year. Give him time folks.

23:59 - Is the team leading TOI of one Alexander Edler. When your top ice time guy is struggling, its going to be more noticeable. That -4 is currently hanging around his neck like a millstone, and you know that everyone has noticed. But this is not the time to be piling on. I for one am getting sick of ( and angry too. At least try to be original guys. ) the TEAM wags piling on with this non stop repeating of Tony's " he's either Bobby Orr or Bambi" line. We all know that the man has talent. Is he feeling the pressure of the new deal? Perhaps. But its important to remember that without Kevin Bieksa, the pairings have moved around quite a bit. I don't really have too many positive numbers for the man right now ( I mean, that +/- is 420th in the NHL, and his shooting % is 320th at 6.9% ). He does lead the blue line in hits ( 32 ) and blocks ( 44 ). At least he is a career +9 against the Wild in 32 games, with 4 goals and 18 points against them. And his partner for now, Christopher Tanev, has the blue line best " on ice save % at 948. So, maybe with the steady and cool young blue liner backing him up, maybe he can turn it around with a few good games until Juice returns.

Olde Tymey Numbers again....

3 - Everyone knows that Pat Quinn was one of the best coaches and general managers the Vancouver Canucks have had in their history. But did you know he wore #3 for the first two seasons the team was in existence? In that first season, I can still remember how tough and exciting that team was. Seven years old was a little too early to realize it at the time, but the team was in solid contention until their captain, Orland Kurtenbach, broke his leg. It was "The Big Irishman" who was the glue that kept that team going, even as things went a bit south.

Quinn was also at the center of a, at the time, huge controversy when he first came to the Canucks as a manager. See, in December of 1986, after turning around a moribund Kings franchise, he signed with the Canucks while still "under contract" to the Kings. Being a smart guy ( after playing, he went to law school ), he maintained that the L.A team had missed an option on his contract, so he thought he could sign elsewhere. While the NHL disagreed and suspended him from coaching until 1990-91, and restricted him from joining the Canucks until the next June, the Canucks had their man ( the Kings tried and failed to sue the Canucks for tampering in court...so there's that at least! )

He got right to work in time for the 1987-88 season. He dealt for Kirk McLean, and Greg Adams. He drafted Trevor Linden first overall in 1988, and, controversially, for Pavel Bure 113th overall the next year. He fought in court to get Bure here against the Russians, and won. Of course, I could go on and on about the deals he made, like trading in 1992 for Cliff Ronning, Sergio Momesso, Robert Dirk and Brian Loney for Dan Quinn and Garth Butcher. That deal helped build the team that would go to the Finals 2 years later.

But this is about the player. As a kid who liked the hitting and tough hockey even at that young age, watching this big, tough defenseman was always fun. I remember being so upset for a 9 year old that the team left him unprotected in the expansion draft in 1972. Atlanta promptly claimed the man and made him their first captain. However, maybe the best hockey story about Pat Quinn is from his rookie season as a Toronto Maple Leaf. During the 1969 playoffs, he laid out my first hockey idol, Bobby Orr, with a huge ( and clean ) open ice hit that left #4 unconscious and provoked a bench clearing brawl. As a kid, I actually went to my parents and said "I HATE HIM" when the Canucks picked him from the Leafs in the expansion draft. Credit them for pointing out how he played when he got here, and the quickness of a child's changing mind for turning me into a fan in such a short time.

As an adult, I never forgave John McCaw and his band of "know nothing about hockey" fools for firing him in November 1997 however. We adults nurse our hockey grudges a bit longer !

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