Hot or Cold: who’s streaking into the playoffs?

It’s not always the best team that wins in the playoffs, but the hottest team. If the best team in the NHL always went on to win the Stanley Cup, we wouldn’t bother with the playoffs and we would replace the Presidents’ Trophy with the Cup. After all, 82 games (or even 48) should be enough to separate the wheat from the chaff and decide who is the best in the league.

Let’s face it, very few people truly believe that. In hockey, we celebrate difficulty. To win the Stanley Cup, you have to go through the long grind of the playoffs and survive, facing the top teams in the league night after night and proving that you’re better than they are.

The team that survives isn’t always the most talented team or the most well-built team. It’s the team that hits a hot streak at the right time, avoids injuries, and takes advantage of their chances. Some teams ride a hot goaltender all the way to the Cup. Others have their offence click into place and light up their opposition. With that in mind, we’re going to look at who on the Canucks is on a streak heading into the playoffs, hot or cold. But we can’t do it alone (particularly since we barely believe such streaks matter), so we’ve enlisted some help.

In honour of NHL 94′s 20th anniversary, we’re please to bring in special guest analyst (and noted streak fetishist), Ron Barr.*

***

Thanks, Daniel, I’m happy to be here.

Welcome to a sold-out Pass it to Bulis, the hockey blog that knows who needs the puck.

Hi, I’m Ron Barr from EA Sports NHL 94, here to tell you who’s on a hot streak and who is off his game heading into the playoffs.

GM Mike Gillis has built the Vancouver Canucks into a multi-talented team, capable of challenging for the Stanley Cup. They have a competitive team with both experience and strength at all positions. The Pacific Coliseum GM Place Rogers Arena will be buzzing with anticipation on Wednesday night, as the San Jose Sharks skate into town.

The Canucks will need to keep an eye on veteran offensive star Sergei Makarov, as well as the young Sandis Ozolinsh if they want to win this series.

Pardon? Ozolinsh plays in the KHL now? What’s the KHL? And Makarov retired 16 years ago and is 54 years old? Artūrs Irbe is still around though, right?

Man.

*Note: not the real Ron Barr.

Daniel Sedin is on a hot streak, with 10 points in his last 10 games. Most notably, he had a goal and an assist in a statement game against the Presidents’ Trophy winning Chicago Blackhawks, leading the Canucks to a 3-1 victory.

Daniel has had a bit of a down year, on pace for his lowest goal total in eight seasons. The Canucks will need him to step up his offensive production in the playoffs and, with the return of Ryan Kesler and the trade for Derek Roy to take some of the pressure off his line, he should be able to do so.

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While the Sedin twins have been firing on all cylinders, Burrows has stalled, with no points in his last 5 games.

Normally a sure bet to go on a hot streak, Burrows has scored goals in consecutive games just once this season, all the way back in January. This has been Burrows’ worst offensive season since 2007-08, despite receiving the most powerplay time of his career.

After finishing third on the Canucks in scoring last season, Burrows is fifth on the team this season. Burrows could end up playing on the second line during the playoffs.

***

Since returning from injury, Kesler has 8 points in 10 games, an impressive feat considering how much time he missed with a broken foot. More importantly, he’s quickly ramped up his ice time, playing more than 19 minutes per game in five straight, barring the last game against Edmonton, in which Alain Vigneault rested his best players in preparation for the playoffs.

It’s hard to understate Kesler’s importance to the Canucks in the playoffs. He can play a variety of different roles for the Canucks, either shutting down the opponent’s best forwards with his stalwart defensive play or feasting on an opponent’s lesser lights like he did against Nashville in 2011.

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Whether Cory Schneider was legitimately injured or was just being rested heading into the playoffs, he’s still gone a week without playing, which can’t be considered ideal. If Schneider does get the start in game one on Wednesday, as is expected, then the Canucks will be placing their trust in a cold goaltender.

Prior to getting sidelined, Schneider had two impressive starts in a row, holding both the Detroit Red Wings and Chicago Blackhawks to one goal apiece. He hasn’t picked up a single win against San Jose this season, however, allowing nine goals against in three games.

If Schneider can pick up where he left off before his injury, the Canucks will be just fine. If he falters after over a week of inactivity, the Canucks could be in trouble.

***

Jason Garrison faced some weighty expectations heading into this season after he was the Canucks big free agent acquisition. Coming off a season in which he finished third amongst defencemen in goals, Garrison struggled to find the net early in the year.

Garrison turned things around, however, and has eight points in his last eleven games, points in two straight, and three goals in his last seven games. He finished the season on an 82-game pace for 14 goals, just two fewer than last season, and is tied for eighth among defencemen in goals.

More importantly, he’s been playing big minutes against tough opponents, logging a season-high 26:20 in ice time in the 3-1 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks

***

Early in the year, it looked like this was going to be Mason Raymond’s comeback season, but his production slowed down as the season progressed and there are signs that Raymond wasn’t really as good as he seemed.

Raymond has one point, an assist, in his last six games. More troubling, he’s averaged about one shot per game in his last thirteen games and has just one goal in that time. Raymond hasn’t been getting the puck to the net with any consistency, so he hasn’t been getting the puck in the net.

The Canucks will need more from Raymond, particularly if he’s playing alongside Ryan Kesler or Derek Roy, as those lines will be relied upon to provide at least some offence.

***

 Tom Sestito is on a goal-scoring streak! He’s on fire!

 

 

 

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13 comments

  1. Nee
    April 29, 2013

    I wish I wasn’t just a smidge too young to have played NHL ’94. I feel like I’m missing out on some prime pop culture references.

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  2. Rituro
    April 29, 2013

    I was the stupid kid who got NHL ’95 because it had Kirk McLean on the box. Loved that game to death. Only later did I discover to my horror I’d missed the cool year. “Wait, NHL ’94? Are you sure?” I would say. Oh, the taunting laughter…

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    • J21 (@Jyrki21)
      April 29, 2013

      Wait, they were all pretty much the same for the first few years – why was ’94 better than ’95? (Especially because, as you note, the Canucks figured prominently in ’95 because of their trip to the finals the year before).

      I know they took fighting away at one point then brought it back (and lost the rights to the NHL itself for “NHLPA ’93″ of course, about a fictionalized hockey league that happened to feature all the same players in the same cities in roughly the same uniforms as their real life counterparts). But what else was different?

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  3. Naturalmystic
    April 30, 2013

    Consider renaming the blog- Pass it to Sestito.

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    • The Bookie
      April 30, 2013

      Sest It To Bulis

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      Rating: +9 (from 9 votes)
  4. Pinner
    April 30, 2013

    Really? Raymond gets an 80? Nicely done otherwise – you gotta earn your 89 Schneids!!
    Does Hank also score a 91 or is he a 92?

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    • Daniel Wagner
      April 30, 2013

      Those ratings are straight out of NHL 13, so I take no credit (or blame) for them. ;)

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  5. Tom 1040
    April 30, 2013

    East:
    Pitt. in 5
    Ottawa in 7
    NYR in 6
    Bos in 6

    West:
    Chic in 5 (Bettman doesn’t like sweeps)
    Det. in 6
    SJ in 6
    StL. in 6

    Wish everyone would do this: lay it on the line.

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    • Rob
      April 30, 2013

      East:
      Pitts in 5
      Ottawa in 7 gotta love an underdog
      NYR in 7
      Bos in 5

      West
      Chi in 5
      Ana in 7 but if there is an upset anywhere its this series.
      Van in 7
      Stl in 6 series is a coin-toss LA is the better team but StL is on a roll

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    • Daniel Wagner
      April 30, 2013

      I’m down. I’ll likely be completely wrong, but being wrong has never stopped me before.

      East:
      NYI in 7 (Yeah, I’m crazy, what of it?)
      OTT in 6
      NYR in 5
      BOS in 4

      West:
      CHI in 4
      DET in 6
      VAN in 6
      LAK in 7

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    • Rituro
      April 30, 2013

      Yearly tradition at my workplace. Here we go:

      WEST
      Chicago in 4
      Anaheim in 7
      Vancouver in 7
      Los Angeles in 6

      EAST
      Pittsburgh in 5
      Ottawa in 7
      Washington in 7
      Toronto in 7

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      • Tom 1040
        May 1, 2013

        Good luck, everyone.

        I just hope that I won’t be too embarrassed by picks/guesses.

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  6. paul wodehouse
    April 30, 2013

    …sestito is HOT…well that’s good cuz you’re gonna need him ready to go as the scoring machine he is … Vinyo pissed off loulou so if the backup goes for at crapcan the gig is up say b-bye … sharks in 5 …

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