Burned In The Shootout: Vancouver concluded their 4 game road trip with a 3-2 shootout loss to the Calgary Flames. The Canucks got off to a slow start but really took control of the game by the half way point. Flames goalie Miikka Kiprusoff was the only reason the Flames won that game. The Canucks were a near perfect 3-0-1 on the trip.
Shootout Strategy: Alex Edler and Alex Burrows are good bets in shootouts. But Mason Raymond in the top three? I would have gone with Cody Hodgson or even Maxim Lapierre, who has a career shootout shooting percentage of 43% albeit in a small sample size. Of course, Alain Vigneault could always call the names of the last two NHL scoring champions. Neither Daniel or Henrik Sedin have great shootout records, but they rarely shoot. Shouldn’t you put the game on the sticks of your best players?
Dodged A Bullet: The Canucks sure got a break when Henrik did not. A fractured foot could have kept the Canucks top pivot out of the game for 20 games or so. Better now than in the playoffs, sure, but I do not know if the Canucks could lose a more important person. I consider Daniel and Henrik equal, but Henrik is a centre and therefore the more valuable positional player outside of goaltender. But hey we have two good goalies. Losing Henrik would really throw the lines into the blender and disrupt the Canucks vaunted power play.
Canucks MVP: That being said, if they handed out the Canucks team MVP award today, it would have to go to Roberto Luongo. He has been their best player through 55 games.
Ballroom Bitz: Everyone has gotten very excited with the play of Byron Bitz. Let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves. He has barely played in 18 months. He’s shown no real sign of being a day to day NHL player in the past. Take a few shifts with the Sedins, make a couple of nice passes and score a goal, and next thing you know they’re playing Ballroom Blitz in the arena. But it’s only been a couple of games. It’s great to know he can play a few shifts there, but he needs to prove he can play a 4th line role where physicality and defense are keys. The Sedins can make an orange pylon look good on their right wing.
Burrows Back: Alex Burrows returned to Ryan Kesler’s wing during the coach’s short line shuffle. I found it interesting how much Burrows game changes with Kesler than with the Sedins. With Daniel and Henrik he is the speed guy, the first guy in the zone and puck retrieval guy. With Ryan Kesler and left winger David Booth, Burrows is arguably the slowest of the three. He handled the puck far more in the neutral zone, dumping the puck into Booth’s corner. It is almost as if Booth has taken Burrows old role on the Kesler line. At this stage I think it is clear that Burrows is far better with the twins than with Ryan Kesler, 5 on 5.
Weise Move: Mike Duco has been showing some nice pugnacity in his call up from the minor leagues, along with a beard that is already in playoff form. Fourth liner Dale Weise should take note and do the same. I’m talking more about the aggressive play than the facial hair.
Jannik Panic: Has anyone seen Jannik Hansen lately? His play has tailed off lately, after a fantastic start that promised a career year. He’s a great playoff asset and hopefully his game shines come April.
Hockeyville 2013: Terrace residents will be interested to know that West Kelowna (formerly Westbank) are one of the top 15 communities in Hockeyville 2013 balloting. Andrew Deans, who was instrumental in helping Terrace win in 2009 is now a big part of the West Kelowna bid.
Check out Joe Pelletier’s new ebook Pucks On The ‘Net