Written by: Larry “The Nucks IceMan” Johnson
As of last night’s game the Vancouver Canucks had entered into uncharted waters with their win over the San Jose Sharks. Not since December 5th of 2010 had they lost in regulation time. But the actual streak really started on November 21, 2010.
Since that November date the Canucks have gone on a 15W, 2L, 1 OTL streak. Out of a possible 36 points the ‘Nucks have collected 31 and as of today’s writing, sit atop the NHL with 55 points in 38 games. It’s been so long since that has happened at this stage of the season, hey I’m just going to enjoy it. Who cares what date that was (Jan.13/04 – 59 pts.).
This is a very impressive team that you now have to say is the best collection of players since 1994, and maybe even better. This current version may not have a Pavel Bure type of player but they do have a Trevor Linden model in Ryan Kesler. Kesler is on a mission and has elevated his game another notch from last season’s performance, when he had a career year with 25G, 50A.
In goal Kirk McLean has been replaced by Roberto Luongo and Cory Schneider. That’s two for the price of one. The current defensive tough section of Keith Ballard, Andrew Alberts and Aaron Rome, is more mobile than the 94 team that had the likes of Dana Murzyn, Robert Dirk, Gerald Diduck, Dave Babych and Brian Glynn.
In the place of Jeff Brown, Jyrke Lumme and Jiri Slegr’s offense, the 2011 Canucks have Alex Edler (3G, 21A), Christian Ehrhoff (6G, 16A), Dan Hamhuis (3G, 7A) and Kevin Bieksa (4G, 8A).
As for the feisty player that we all knew previously, nothing has changed there I’m pleased to report.
Never in his NHL career has he had such impressive plus/minus stats. His plus 13 tops all defenseman, he’s tied with the Sedins and one point behind the team leader, Ryan Kesler. Trade bait – you would probably have to shoot Coach Alain Vigneault first.
The ‘Nucks were always missing another line to complement the Sedins up to last year, when the Kesler, Mason Raymond and Mikael Samuelsson line broke out and had career years.
Now they have a third line with Manny Malhotra (6G, 11A), Raffi Torres (11G, 6A) and a rotating third player, that can not only check the other team’s top line, but contribute in the scoring department.
The depth on the forwards has been really impressive with versatile Jeff Tambellini (9G, 6A) and Jannik Hansen (5G, 8A) playing on either the second, third or fourth lines. Now you know you have some serious depth if either of those two players is on your fourth line!
Although the fourth line has seen Tanner Glass (3G, 5A) as the only constant, Alex Bolduc (1G, 2A) at centre, is making a determined push to remain there with him. The third player, well it’s still a work in progress. On some nights it could be anyone from Tambellini and Hansen to Jonas Andersson, Guillaume Desbiens or Aaron Volpatti.
Personally I like Volpatti and have so since I first saw him in the Young Stars Tournament and pre-season. I have kept track of him in Manitoba and I would expect to see him again if any injuries occur.
The scoring has been coming from all four lines and just recently in Dallas, saw the fourth line score both goals to win the game. That’s when you know the team is going to be someone to contend with come playoff time.
Can the Canucks continue on this amazing history setting streak? Realistically every team will have its peaks and valleys through the season and I’m sure the Canucks will be no different. This time though, I do not expect the valley to be any more than a couple of games.
This team’s character and depth is too good for any bump in the road to throw them off their quest for a long playoff run.
To catch all the news, updates and new articles as they occur, along with the Canucks farm team the Manitoba Moose, you can follow me @twitter.com/nucksiceman.com (I love this tweeting because it’s like small 140 character type articles) and @communities.canada.com/VANCOUVERSUN/blogs/fanattic/default.aspx
Filed under: Vancouver Canucks