John Garrett: A third of the way
The Canucks have just passed the one-third mark of the season and are riding a 6-1-1 streak.
They have been relatively consistent and have fewer regulation losses than anyone in the Western Conference, except for the Nashville Predators. The Canucks got off to an ordinary start winning only two of their first seven games yet they managed to get points in four of them. They won eight of nine from October 22nd through November 13th. They lead the Northwest Division and still feel they have yet to reach their potential.
They have not been as a group as good as they could be but have been successful because they have shown their depth and have had contributions from everyone. Ryan Kesler and Mason Raymond did not have a point in the first four games and Alex Burrows missed the first month. Henrik and Daniel Sedin had 11 points in the first four games and had 23 points in the nine games played in October.
Once Ryan Kesler started scoring he got nine goals in 11 games. Raffi Torres scored six of his eight goals in a five game stretch between October 22nd and November 4th. Manny Malhotra had four goals and eight points during that same stretch. When Dan Hamhuis and Keith Ballard were hurt, Andrew Alberts and Aaron Rome filled in admirably.
The re-vamped power play leads the league and the penalty killing has been helped by the faceoff proficiency of both Malhotra and Kesler. Jannik Hansen, Tanner Glass and Jeff Tambellini have been good in a number of various roles.
We have seen two games where the Canucks have played as a group, as well as they can. On November 26th they beat San Jose 6-1 on December 12th they beat the Oilers 2-1 in a game that could have been 6-1. If they can play this way in the playoffs it will be something to watch.
AND ANOTHER THING…
I could not believe the controversy created by the shootout goal by Linus Omark of the Oilers against Tampa on the 10th of December.
Shootouts are regarded as bonus time and entertainment for the fans. I think it is refreshing that a younger player tries something different and has some fun in a part of the game that players in general feel is not part of the game. It is not disrespectful to the game because as we all know the shootout is not part of the game.