Are The Canucks Still Contenders?

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It’s been a rough couple of months for Canucks fans and the Canucks organization. The Canucks have had a horrid 2014 thus far, posing a 3-6-2 record, with just eight goals in their past seven games. The Sedins (although Henrik is out at the moment) have been invisible, Burrows still doesn’t have a
John Tortorella has been searching for answers as of late.


goal this season and the defensive core hasn’t done much as of late. Alex Burrows has been the biggest disappointment so far this season, with zero goals and three assists in the eighteen games he’s played. Daniel Sedin isn’t far behind Burrows, as the Swedish star is on pace for twenty goals this season, it’s safe to say Daniel hasn’t been the same since he took the elbow of Duncan Keith to the head. Besides Ryan Kesler, Chris Higgins, Mike Santorelli and Ryan Stanton, the Canucks have had little to no consistency from any of their line-up. The Canucks are now under severe speculation as a pretender, rather than a contender, and insiders are drawing many comparisons to this edition of the Canucks to last year’s New York Rangers, a team that had flunking stars in Rick Nash and Brad Richards and relied on their star goalie to win them close games. The Rangers were eliminated in the second round last season after squeaking by the Washington Capitals, but the West is a total different story from the East. The way the Canucks are playing right now, I wouldn’t be surprised with another first round exit.

The Canucks’ scoring has been the main point of criticism, as the team is 22nd in goals for this season, with 127 goals in 52 games played, giving an average of 2.44 goals per game. Ryan Kesler leads the team in goals with 18, and Chris Tanev is tied with Jason Garrison (yikes) for the lead in goals by a defence man with 5. The Canucks are missing scoring from two key scorers: Daniel Sedin

Alex Burrows is still trying to score his 1st of the season.

and Alex Burrows. We’re 52 games into the season and Alex Burrows still hasn’t scored a single goal in the eighteen games he’s managed to suit up for due to injury. Take away the fact that Burrows has been injured, his numbers are still horrible. Daniel Sedin is on pace for just twenty goals this season, and Daniel has just 25 goals in his last 100 games. Ryan Kesler may lead the team in goals, but he’s still a -5 and still hasn’t found the consistency to play like himself night in and night out. Henrik Sedin also hasn’t had a great season with 40 points in the 50 games he’s played, and it can be argued that injuries may have played a part in his struggles this season, but it’s not good enough. The only bright spots on the Canucks offensive group is Chris Higgins and Mike Santorelli, they’ve been the only two Canucks forwards who have excelled on the team consistently this season. Zack Kassian has showed glimpses of hope this season, but he’s still tied with Chris Tanev with 14 points this season. If the Canucks want toe be considered cup contenders once again, it will have to start with the Canucks core finding their offensive spark once again.

The Canucks’ defence is another concern, as Jason Garrison has just five goals this season and is tied with defensive defence man Chris Tanev for the team lead in goals by a defence man. Garrison was brought in to the Canucks organization in the 2012 offseason to jolt the Canucks’ power play

Dan Hamhuis has had an uncharacteristically weak season.

with his cannon of a shot. Since joining the Canucks, Garrison has just six power play goals in 99 games with the club, and 13 in total. Dan Hamhuis has been another concern for the Canucks; the steady defensive-minded defence man who for the past three seasons was the most consistent defender on the team has hit a bump in the road, as his defensive play has been questionable to say the least this season. Chris Tanev and Kevin Bieksa have arguably been the Canucks’ best defenders with an honourable mention to another underpaid and underrated player acquired this offseason in Ryan Stanton, who has been a rock this season for $0.550M. Alex Edler is still looking to find his groove since the 2010-11 season. Edler has battled injuries and suspensions, and still hasn’t found a way to be a consistently reliable top-4 defence man while providing offence. In terms of production, the Canucks will be looking for more from Garrison, Edler and Hamhuis, as all three have been underwhelming this season.

Between the pipes has been the Canucks’ smallest of worries, as both Roberto Luongo and Eddie Lack have been great this season. Luongo has battled some injuries as of late, but he’s avoided his

The Canucks’ Goaltending has been their lone strong spot.

usual “October slump” and has been fairly consistent all season. Eddie Lack has proved he belongs in the NHL this season, with key wins over some of the top teams in the league like the Blackhawks and the Blues. However, the 9-1 shellacking from the Ducks and some other losses have shown that Stork still has some maturing to do in his game. Both Luongo and Lack have the same goals against average of 2.18 and both have save percentages well over .900, both goalies have kept the Canucks above .500 and won the Canucks the majority of their games. If the Canucks’ goaltending can keep up this pace, the team might actually be able to make a playoff push if the rest of the team steps their game up.

Luckily for the Canucks (or unluckily if you view the team differently), there are still 30 games remaining in the season; 30 games for the Twins to step up their game and return to superstar status, 30 games for Garrison and the rest of the defence to solidify their games, and 30 games for Luongo and Lack to continue slamming the door shut. The Canucks aren’t in a pretty situation right now, but there is still light at the end of the tunnel if the Canucks can step up their game in the near future.

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