Which Canuck will be next to score his first goal of the season?

Everybody knows: Henrik is the passer, Daniel is the shooter. Henrik racks up the assists, while Daniel racks up the goals. This has been true throughout their careers, so it shouldn’t be a surprise when Henrik goes through a long stretch of games without putting the puck in the net. And yet, with Henrik just one point back from surpassing Markus Naslund’s franchise record of 756 points, there are still rumblings of concern throughout the media and fanbase.

Henrik has yet to score a goal this season, going 11 games without scoring. At this point, he’s one of only five Canucks skaters without a goal this year.

Again, this shouldn’t be a surprise: Henrik went twice as long – 22 games – without a goal towards the end of last season. Still, as much as the concern over Henrik not scoring is normally overblown, this time around the concern seems justified. Henrik has just 13 shots in 11 games, his lowest shooting pace since before the 2004-05 lockout.

At his current pace, he’s set to finish the 48-game season with just 56-57 shots. Assuming he ends the season with a similar shooting percentage to the last two seasons, when he scored on 12.4% and 12.1% of his shots, Henrik will finish the season with just 6 or 7 goals. Given the start to his season, he may not even reach that total. If he shoots his career-low shooting percentage of 7.5%, he’ll end up with just 4 goals. Even for Henrik, that’s just not enough.

Fortunately, the rest of the team has picked up the slack. The Canucks have gotten off to their best every start under Alain Vigneault, thanks to both the unreal goaltending from Roberto Luongo and Cory Schneider and the balanced scoring from the entire Canucks lineup. Fourteen players have recorded a goal for the Canucks, including five defencemen. Chris Tanev even scored his first ever NHL goal.

The only players, other than Henrik, who have yet to score a goal this season are Manny Malhotra, Dale Weise, Andrew Ebbett, and Keith Ballard. Well, there’s also Andrew Alberts and Cam Barker, but the latter two have yet to play a game.

For each of these players, there are clear reasons why they have yet to score. Malhotra is doing his usual work starting in the defensive zone; Weise has more shots on goal than Henrik in fewer minutes, but apparently angered a hockey puck in a past life; Ebbett has played in just 4 games; Ballard has refocused his efforts in the defensive zone and he’s a defenceman, so we’ll cut him some slack.

But for each of them, like for Henrik, there’s still reason for concern. Malhotra has just 2 shots on net; Weise has been demoted to the fourth line, where he’ll struggle to find offensive opportunities; Ebbett struggled to start the season in a primarily offensive role; Ballard is supposed to be the offensive defenceman between him and Chris Tanev, yet Tanev is the one with 3 points, while Ballard has none.

So which of these players will bump the slump first? Will one of Malhotra, Weise, Ebbett, or Ballard score a goal before Henrik this season? Heck, will Alberts or Barker get into a game and score before Henrik? It’s entirely possible.


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7 comments

  1. jeremy
    February 12, 2013

    Kesler also could return and have a big impact by the time any of these guys get one in the net.

    I’d like to say Keith Ballard. I was sure he’d be getting powerplay time after the most recent slump; he was looking like a guy who’d earned a crack at it, and Garrison certainly wasn’t impressing on the point. Sadly this ‘Schroeder’ guy had to come in and start scoring goals all over the damned place and he’s probably tilted favour to the side of the ‘four-forward’ powerplay. AV beat Ballard again…

    The answer, of course, is Henrik. As you guys have pointed out on many occassions, assuming the *other* Sedin is the one best situated to score is the most dangerous mistake of all…

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    • Daniel Wagner
      February 12, 2013

      It’s entirely possible that Kesler, or even Booth, could return before one of the players in the poll scores a goal. Someone has already voted for “Other” with that in mind.

      It’ll be interesting to see how long the four-forward formation lasts on the powerplay. Having just one defenceman always makes me nervous.

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      • steveB
        February 13, 2013

        Me too, seeing someone as un-fleet-footed as Daniel Sedin at the Point gives me the jibblies.

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  2. Rory
    February 12, 2013

    What about Luongo? It would be pretty hard to trade the franchise’s leading offensive goaltender if he pots one before Kesler. One goal from Strombone and Cory is on waivers, I guarantee it.

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    • J21 (@Jyrki21)
      February 14, 2013

      But they’ll need Schneider to play goal once Luongo is moved to forward. (Think of the screening opportunities with all that equipment on!)

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  3. akidd
    February 12, 2013

    i don’t see the big deal. one brother passes and the other brother scores. not sure what the problem is. i’m certainly not going to second-guess henrik’s decsion-making with the puck. he makes pretty good decisions with the puck if i recall(//silent understatement cannons go off with some invisible fireworks.)

    he’ll pass a few pucks into the net by the end of the season, i’m sure. there’s some pretty fastidious sportswriters in town. do they go around picking lint off each other too?

    and weise looks set to push the puck into the net with his teeth if he has too. i’m expecting some hard net-crashing from him after the rousing pitb article the other day. a goal and a goalie interference penalty for him. a dutch double(//the coin-a-phrase cannons don’t even bother.)

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  4. BakerGeorgeT
    February 13, 2013

    You know what? I totally forgot Cam Barker played for the Canucks.

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