The Canucks had 296 powerplay opportunities last season, good for 11th in the NHL. With their league-leading powerplay percentage of 24.3%, the Canucks scored a league-leading 72 goals with the man advantage. This season, the Canucks are once again leading the league in powerplay goals with 13, but are converting at a percentage of 22.4%, good for 6th in the NHL. But they are second in the NHL in powerplay opportunities, just one behind the Columbus Blue Jackets.
It’s in the Canucks best interests to continue to draw as many penalties as possible. While it’s unlikely that the Canucks will actually draw near-400 powerplay opportunities — Carolina led the league with 346 powerplay opportunities last season — the more powerplay opportunities that the Canucks can draw with their superb powerplay, the better. And thus far, despite only scoring 1 powerplay point, Cody Hodgson has played a large role in the Canucks’ powerplay success.
Hodgson has had a solid start to the season, scoring 5 points in 12 games. He’s on pace for a 20-goal season, which is quite good for a rookie, but there’s hope that he’ll start picking up a few more assists playing with David Booth and Ryan Kesler, as well as on the second unit on the powerplay.
But one of the keys to picking up points on the powerplay is getting powerplays. For that, you need players who can draw penalties. It turns out that Cody Hodgson may be the best player on the Canucks in this regard.
Last season, Ryan Kesler led the Canucks in penalties drawn per 60 minutes, with Alex Burrows and Mason Raymond close behind. That shouldn’t be too surprising: Kesler’s speed, size, and ability to be incredibly annoying are a potent combination. Raymond’s speed makes him difficult to contain, forcing opponents to take penalties, while Burrows is just a pain in the neck and goes to the dirty areas of the ice where penalties tend to happen.
This season, however, Cody Hodgson is leading the Canucks in penalties drawn per 60 minutes, which doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense on the surface. Hodgson doesn’t have the speed of Raymond, the size of Kesler, or the dickery of Burrows. What he does have, however, is the ability to make plays in traffic and a lot of strength on the puck. Hodgson is never afraid to stickhandle in tight situations, frequently causing opponents to reach in and take tripping and hooking penalties.
To be fair, Hodgson only averages around 13 and a half minutes of ice time per game, whereas Kesler, who is tied with Henrik and Hansen for second in penalties drawn, averages 19 minutes per game. This means that Hodgson has drawn an average of 0.63 penalties per game, while Kesler has drawn an average of 0.67 penalties per game, as has Henrik. It could be argued that Hodgson would draw more penalties with more ice time, however.
The most impressive thing for Hodgson is that he has led the Canucks in this area without taking a single penalty himself. While he has a very active stick and uses it to great effectiveness in creating turnovers and battling for the puck in the offensive zone, he has completely avoided high-sticking, tripping, and hooking penalties while doing so. It’s incredibly impressive. Henrik and Hansen may both draw 2.1 penalties per 60 minutes, but they have also taken 1.4 and 1.7 penalties per 60 minutes respectively. Hodgson manages to draw penalties and put the Canucks on the powerplay without costing the Canucks powerplay opportunities in return. And it’s not like he’s not playing defense; according to Cam Charron, he’s been very responsible defensively.
The addition of Hodgson and Booth, who is currently 5th on the team in penalties drawn, might help the team to draw even more powerplay opportunities than last year: the team is currently on pace for 396 powerplay opportunities, 100 more than last season. Once Mason Raymond returns to the lineup, his speed will help draw even further penalties. With the Canucks on pace for 89 powerplay goals, 17 more than last season, this is a very positive sign.
Tags: Cody Hodgson, featured, Statistics