When Mike Gillis re-signed Tom Sestito on a one-way contract for two years last summer, it was met with a collective, “Really?” from the Canucks fanbase. Even the most ardent fan of enforcers could tell you that those numbers should have been reversed: a two-way contract for one year.
The previous season, Sestito barely saw the ice after getting claimed off waivers and was in and out of the press box. It wasn’t an expensive contract at $750,000 per season, but it was a baffling one. Enforcers like Sestito are easy to find in free agency or on the waiver wire, so committing to two years to a 25-year-old enforcer that had yet to even play a full season in the NHL made zero sense. It seemed like a continuation of the Bruins-obsession that marred Gillis’s work post-2011, focussing on finding a Shawn Thornton rather than a David Krejci.
Of course, no one expected Sestito to score as many goals as Alex Burrows during the 2013-14 season, even spending some time in the Canucks’ top six and on the first-unit powerplay. He even matched the goal total of last summer’s biggest name in free agency, David Clarkson, who got a 7-year deal worth $5.25 million per year. That’s an incredible value for $750,000! Good thing they locked him down for two years!
Except that it was a near-historically unlucky season for Burrows, while Sestito had the highest shooting percentage on the Canucks, to the point that he was actually incredibly fortunate to even score 5 goals. Sestito had a grand total of 31 shots on goal in the 77 games he played. Shawn Matthias played just 18 games for the Canucks and had more shots — 39 — than Sestito.
Now, with Jim Benning acquiring the far more useful fourth-liner Derek Dorsett via trade and younger players pushing their way up the depth chart, it’s unclear if Sestito will even have a spot on the roster for the second year of his contract. That may be for the best, as every single player on the Canucks has better possession statistics without Sestito than they do with him.
I have no explanation for why Sestito played in all but 5 games last season, aside from just shrugging my shoulders and saying “Tortorella,” but he did score five goals, which is five more than I’ll ever score in the NHL.Continue Reading —›
Why is Alex Burrows so sad in the above photo? Maybe it’s because he knows new coach John Tortorella plans to give his job, that plum position to the right of the Sedins, to Zack Kassian. Not cool, Torts.
For the past five seasons, Burrows has been to the twins what the Doomsday Device was to the Legion of Doom, or the Dudley Death Drop was to the Dudley Boyz: a legendary finisher. Ever since being paired with the pair, Burrows has been a lock for around 30 goals per season. That said, last season was his least productive in that role. It was the first time he’s failed to score at a 28-goal pace since 2008-09, his first season on the top line. So maybe it is time for a change?
If 2013 was Burrows’ last as the third Sedin, while it didn’t go as well as it normally does, it didn’t go too terribly, either. He finished the year with 13 goals, good for the Canucks’ team lead in scoring. Not too shabby — as ways to go out go, “on top” is always preferable. We close this year’s player-by-player look at every goal scored last season with the man they call Burr.Continue Reading —›
Daniel Sedin scored just 12 goals in 2013, a total with which he, like most of us, was disappointed. “That wasn’t good enough,” he told Brad Ziemer at the Sun, “It’s disappointing, but I know I can score more. I scored 40 once and I would like to be up there again. I still feel like I can produce a lot more than I have the last two years.”
Daniel explained that, from where he’s standing, it’s mostly about percentages. His shooting percentage was down, which is bad luck, but the best way to get it up to where it normally sits is to do it more and kill that small sample size so the averages sort themselves out. Math!
“For me, if I can get three-and-a-half to four shots a game my shooting percentage is usually around 13 or 14 per cent,” he said. “That is going to put me right there goal-wise. That is key for me, to think shot and if I can get three or four it’s going to become some goals, I think.”
Love that last sentence. Occasionally you’re reminded English is Daniel’s second language. Anyway, while Daniel may not have scored with his usual regularity, he still potted a dozen. Let’s take a look at the twelve times his shot “became some goals” in 2013.Continue Reading —›
Here’s how this works at the Every Goal series: score twice in the season and you get your own post. Score just once, however, and you have to endure the shame of being lumped in with all the other singularities from the season that was. This year, that’s a list that includes two former Canucks in Aaron Volpatti and Andrew Ebbett, and two current Canucks in Tom Sestito… and David Booth.
Yes, David Booth, who is being paid a lot of money to score more goals than just one. It’s even worse when you consider that his goal was effectively a pity gift from Max Lapierre, who really shouldn’t be in a position to pity a guy making $4 million a year.
Now, in Booth’s defence, you really can’t have worse luck on the ice. His scoring chances didn’t go, and he battled both a groin strain at the beginning of the season and a season-ending high ankle sprain not long after he finally returned. But even still, let’s hope that sharing a category with Volpatti, Ebbett and Booth is all the motivation he needs to do better next year, because, I mean, seriously.Continue Reading —›
There weren’t a lot of bright spots for the Canucks last season, but if I had to put my finger on one, it’d be Chris Higgins beard. And I mean literally put my finger on one. That beard seems downright tuggable, like Kris Kringle’s beard in Miracle on 34th Street. (Sidenote: Did you know Dylan McDermott was in that together? As soon as I pulled up the trailer and saw him sharing the screen with Sarah Paulson lookalike Elizabeth Perkins, I thought I was watching an episode of American Horror Story: Asylum. And when Santa appeared, I was certain I was. But alas.)
Of course, Higgins was fun to watch last season for more reasons than simply having the team’s best beard. He also had a pretty good season, scoring 10 goals and being rewarded for his production — not to mention his strong forecheck and ability to play up and down the lineup — with a four-year contract extension. Here are 10 reasons that extension seems like a pretty good idea.Continue Reading —›
Hey, remember Derek Roy? Acquired by the Canucks amid all the trade deadline moves, Roy was supposed to give the Canucks three stable lines and make them a deep, formidable foe in the postseason. But, after showing flashes of promise as the club ran out the rest of the schedule, Roy followed the advice of self-help band Radiohead and disappeared completely. Understandably, the Canucks showed little interest in re-signing the centre, and off he went to St. Louis, along with Max Lapierre.
I think most Vancouver fans would like to forget he was ever here at this point. But we can’t — not just yet. He scored three goals, which means he gets an entry in the Every Goal series. Rules are rules, friends. Let’s get this over with.Continue Reading —›
It was a strange season for the Sedins, who have grown accustomed to starting most of their shifts in the offensive zone and focusing mainly on creating offence. Unfortunately, a series of injuries to Ryan Kesler forced them into a more defensive role and slowed up the offensive production of the first powerplay unit. As a result, they didn’t produce quite as much offence as they usually do.
Even still, they still produced some. Henrik Sedin, in fact, scored 11 goals, only three off his total in the 82-game 2011-12 season. But, like I said, it was a weird year, and the way in which these goals were scored gives evidence to that. On several, Henrik and Alex Burrows trade bodies. Two are empty-netters, one of which is shorthanded. One is scored on a Daniel Sedin one-timer with Henrik plying the net-front presence. It’s just wacky, uncharacteristic stuff.
Although there’s still some Sedinery. I know that’s what you’re here for and there’s a definitely a smattering of it in this entry. Enjoy.Continue Reading —›
Jason Garrison has a fantastic debut season with the Canucks at both ends of the ice. Defensively, he was a rock, forming an excellent shutdown pairing with Dan Hamhuis (although it left Kevin Bieksa paired with Alex Edler, which was much less excellent). At the offensive end, he scored 8 goals in 48 games — all in pretty much the same way. What we learned, time and time again, is that Garrison has a pretty decent release.
Actually, decent is an understatement. When he gets the puck at the point with a little time and space, it’s such an automatic killshot he may as well hold his stick sideways.
And so we ask: do you like goals from the top of the zone? Because if so, then boy oh boy, you’re gonna like what we have in store for you. It’s eight of that thing you like. Granted, if you’ve seen one, you’ve seen ‘em all, but it’s way more fun to see them all.Continue Reading —›
The 2012-13 season was an unusual one for Kevin Bieksa. By his underlying statistics, it was Bieksa’s worst season in over five years. His usage was similar to that of 2011-12, but his Corsi went from 10.26, which led all Canucks defencemen in 2011-12, to -0.98, ahead of only Andrew Alberts.
Bieksa just wasn’t at his best this past season, but it gets a little more clear why when you look at who he played with for most of the season. Bieksa’s most common defence partner was Alex Edler, which is surprising given how little chemistry they have together. In 2011-12, Bieksa spent the entire season with Dan Hamhuis, whose steadiness is a perfect complement for Bieksa’s more freewheeling nature.
When paired with Edler, Bieksa’s Corsi% was 49.9%, meaning there was about an even split in shot attempts for and against when they were on the ice. Bieksa’s second most common partner was Jason Garrison and the two of them managed a Corsi% of 51.3% together. When paired with Hamhuis, Bieksa’s Corsi% was 50.9%. Bieksa’s worst Corsi% came when he was briefly paired with Andrew Alberts or Keith Ballard.
Long story short, Bieksa is not a player that can carry a defence pairing on his own, but works best as a complementary player with a steady defenceman like Hamhuis or Garrison at his side. If Chris Tanev is ready to step into the top-four and play with Edler at even-strength, then Bieksa should have a return to form while playing the majority of the season with Hamhuis or Garrison.
Even though it wasn’t a great season for Bieksa, he still scored six goals, just two fewer than his previous season. Given the name of this series, we have every one of them.Continue Reading —›
Consider the following: Mason Raymond finished tied for fourth in team scoring for the Canucks, just one goal back of Henrik Sedin, two back of Daniel Sedin, and three back of team leader, Alex Burrows. In other words: it was a pretty decent season for him, comparatively speaking. Yet everybody seemed to hate him, and now, in late August, Raymond still finds himself unemployed.
Granted, some of it is Raymond’s own doing. From the sounds of it, he was fairly determined to go to Calgary, and when the Flames passed, some of the other interested parties had moved. In addition, he’s a bit of a drunk ghost, falling down and disappearing fairly regularly. Teams hate that. They prefer guys that are strong on their feet, as they say, and consistent. Raymond has a lot of good qualities but neither of those can be counted as one of them.
But he’s still a pretty good hockey player, as you’ll see in these clips. He’s got great speed, an effective wristshot, and he plays a 200-foot game. After watching him score 10 times, you might even be open to the idea of him returning to Vancouver at a reduced rate. I totally would.Continue Reading —›
Chris Tanev is known far more for his defensive play than his offensive production, which is the sort of thing that will happen when you pretty much never score. But in 2013, he finally got on the board, scoring his first two career NHL goals.
After watching them both, it seems pretty clear what Tanev has to do in order to produce more often for the Canucks, (should he and they ever finally agree to a new contract): get hilariously, uncommonly wide open right smack-dab in the middle of the offensive zone, with a clear lane to the goal and plenty of open net to shoot at. Easy, right? Now that he knows, Tanev should be able to do this several times a night.
Here’s every goal Tanev scored in 2013 — all two of them.Continue Reading —›
Two seasons ago, it took us a full week to get through Ryan Kesler’s entry in the “Every Goal” series. We put it off until the end of the summer, both because it had some of the year’s most exciting goals, and because we’re chronic procrastinators and it seemed like a lot of work. At 41 tallies, it had to be split up into four posts just so it wasn’t completely overwhelming.
Not so this time around. Kesler’s goal-scoring in 2012-13 was less than one-tenth of his 2010-11 output, thanks to the lockout and a neverending stream of injuries that have conspired to make the former Selke winner a non-entity for much of the past two seasons. Kesler just couldn’t catch a break last year, save for the one his foot caught shortly after he returned from rehabbing shoulder surgery.
As a result, he played just 17 games, and he was his old self for, oh, let’s say zero of them. Still, he scored four times. Let’s take a look.Continue Reading —›
Two years ago, Jannik Hansen won the Fred J. Hume Award as the Canucks’ unsung hero. Somehow, since then, Hansen’s praises still aren’t being sung enough, as he won the award yet again this past season. He becomes the first Canuck to win the award twice without winning it in back-to-back seasons, mainly because most players good enough to win it twice start getting the respect they deserve after a couple seasons.
Hansen has continued to progress as a two-way player and was on pace for a career-high 17 goals and 47 points in 2012-13, spending some time in the top-six and even playing alongside the Sedins on the powerplay occasionally. He’s one of the Canucks’ best penalty killers, he has underrated playmaking ability, and will even cross check a ref if he gets in his way. At some point, he’s gotta get sung, right?
Really, we’ve been singing his praises for some time now. While his early season production was driven by some favourable percentages while playing on the third line, he took advantage of when he was moved into a more offensive role and continued to produce. He’ll play an integral role next season, whether on the second line with Ryan Kesler or playing a more defensive checking role. If it’s the latter, he might not score as much, but he’ll still be important to the Canucks’ success.
Hansen scored ten goals during the 2013 season. Here are all ten:Continue Reading —›
Alex Edler has become a surprisingly polarizing figure in Vancouver, with seemingly as many detractors as fans. The problem, essentially, is that he’s not as good as he looks. Really, that’s not that big a problem, because he looks like a combination of Nicklas Lidstrom and Chris Pronger with his smooth skating, big body, booming slapshot, and slick passing.
Fans have been waiting years for Edler to develop into a dominant, all-around, number one defenceman and lead the Canucks to glory. His skillset and calm demeanour seem to suggest that every season could be the one where he breaks out and it all comes together, but it never quite happens. He looks like he could be one of the best defencemen in the league, but he falls just short every year.
For any other defenceman, falling just short of “best” would be good enough, but fans tend to expect a lot more out of Edler. Every giveaway is magnified, as his puck control is too good to give up the puck so easily. Every missed slapshot is a disappointment, as his shot is just too good for him to miss like that. Every defensive miscue is heightened in the eyes of Canucks fans, as the best defencemen in the league simply don’t get beat like that.
Perhaps it’s time to let go of those hopes and dreams and accept Edler for who he is. He’s not a number one defenceman in the conventional sense, like Shea Weber or Zdeno Chara. That’s something I’ve been saying for a couple years. He is, however, a very good defenceman, who is capable of putting up points, playing big minutes at even-strength and on the powerplay, and occasionally throwing a big hit or two. And that’s okay. With quality defencemen like Dan Hamhuis, Jason Garrison, and Kevin Bieksa on the team, along with quality youth like Chris Tanev and Frank Corrado, the Canucks don’t really need Edler to be a number one defenceman. They just need him to contribute as best he can.
Last season, he contributed eight goals, which isn’t too shabby. Here they are:Continue Reading —›
It wasn’t the best of seasons for Maxim Lapierre. The third line centreman’s job was his to lose from the moment the club shut down Manny Malhotra, and while he never formally lost it, he did little to show the Canucks he should have it. He just seemed a little off all season, and he wound up bouncing back and forth between lines three and four without ever really cementing a role.
Still, he scored four goals. (and a half, reminds Jason Brough, since his shootout winner versus Columbus was the closest thing we got to a goal on that night.)
Lapierre may be gone, now a member of the St. Louis Blues, but he’s not forgotten. He can’t be, because we have yet to do his entry in the Every Goal series. So let’s get to that.Continue Reading —›
Zack Kassian started strong for the Canucks, scoring five goals in the month of January and looking like he might be on his way to an outright theft of Alex Burrows’ job as the third Sedin. Unfortunately, he fell out of Alain Vigneault’s favour and down the depth chart shortly thereafter, spending most of the season tarrying in the bottom six forwards while frustrated fans, thinking of his hot start, grew to see Vigneault as the reason it was no longer January. (Really, their beef was with Numa Pompilius, who added February to the Roman calendar in 713 B.C.).
But while Kassian’s season eventually turned into a disappointment, it still had its fair share of bright spots. Seven, to be exact. Let us relive them now.Continue Reading —›
The third annual Every Goal series will run through the remainder of the summer, remembering every goal scored by the Canucks, player by player. Today, we take a look at Dale “The Piece” Weise.Continue Reading —›
It’s been four years since Jordan Schroeder was drafted in the first round by the Vancouver Canucks and he finally made his NHL debut in the 2012-13 season. With Ryan Kesler out to start the season, Schroeder had an excellent opportunity to play an offensive role and prove himself after a couple middling seasons in the AHL. It didn’t quite work out as hoped.
While Schroeder was able to hold his own defensively, a concern given his size, he wasn’t able to produce much offensively, scoring just 9 points in 31 games. He was the Canucks’ best rookie, but only by default. Still, it’s something to build on, particularly after scoring 10 points in 9 AHL games during his April demotion. He may be reaching the point where he’s too good to stay in the AHL and will hopefully force himself into the lineup in 2013-14.
He’ll be 23 at the start of next season and will be challenged for the third-line centre role by Brad Richardson, as well as prospects Brendan Gaunce and Bo Horvat. His new one-way contract, worth just $600,000, will aid his cause, as he won’t strain the salary cap.
If he wants to stick with the Canucks long-term, he’ll need to provide more than the three goals he scored in 2012-13. Let’s take a look at those goals, shall we?Continue Reading —›
Dan Hamhuis is hardly a flashy player, more dedicated to quietly shutting down the opposition than dazzling with his mad, sweet dangles. His inclusion on Team Canada’s Olympic Orientation camp was, thusly, a bit of a head-scratcher for some. After all, you’d hardly put Hamhuis in the same class of defenceman as, say, P.K. Subban, Shea Weber, Drew Doughty, and the like. But Steve Yzerman made it very clear: he wasn’t building an All-Star team, and while there going to be some natural goal-scorers on the Canadian blueline, there was room the Dan Hamhuises of this world as well — reliable defensive defencemen more concerned with goal prevention than goal production.
Although Hamhuis does score on occasion. In the shortened 2012-13 season, he scored three times, and was credited for four goals. That fourth goal was typical Hamhuis — a small defensive contribution leading to the moment that cemented the game. Let’s take a look at Hamhuis’s goals from last season.Continue Reading —›
You didn’t think we could end the Every Goal series on such a positive note with Chris Higgins, right? You should know by now that things can never end well for Canucks fans. That is why the last post in our annual off-season Every Goal series will end with all 8 goals the Canucks managed to score during the 2012 playoffs versus the Los Angeles Kings.
On the plus side, we’re only looking back at the good parts, when the puck was going into the Kings’ net. If you squint and ignore the scoreboard, you can imagine that the Canucks won the series. While you’re at it, imagine that the NHL and NHLPA have concluded their CBA negotiations and that there won’t be a lockout to start next season.
In any case, the Canucks scored some pretty goals during the playoffs and they deserve to be remembered and highlighted. Seeing them outside of their disappointing context makes them a lot more enjoyable.Continue Reading —›
And so we come to the end of the Every Goal series with the back half of Chris Higgins’s entry, a post that bears a striking similarity to the first half.
If you read yesterday’s post, you got used to nice passes from Jannik Hansen, tips from Dan Hamhuis, and Higgins’s standout tendency to get in behind defences and be the first one on rebounds. Nothing has changed in part two. Higgins was a tried and true opportunist in 2011-12, pouncing on loose pucks, finishing off pretty passes, and cashing in on breakaways galore. It remains to be seen if he’ll get as many fortunate opportunities next season as he did last year, but once you’ve watched all 18 Higgins goals from last year, one thing’s for sure: more often than not, if he gets an opportunity, he’s going to convert.
Here are eight more times he converted.Continue Reading —›
From a production standpoint, Chris Higgins’s second season in Canucks’ colours was a pleasant surprise. When he wasn’t sitting out with an unpleasant surprise — a staph infection that was obviously a secret zombie bite — he scored 18 goals, won the hearts of many, and was awarded the Fred J. Hume Unsung Hero award for his efforts.
It’s maybe not the most aptly named trophy. Higgins was plenty sung. As perhaps the only Canuck forward to exceed expectations for the year, he won the hearts of nearly everyone. And for those of you whose hearts are not so easily won by goals, his abs were pretty popular too.
But this post isn’t about his abs. It’s about his goals. (Sorry. I recognize that some of you are disheartened, but take solace in the fact that his abs are resting comfortably under his clothes.) Enjoy the first half of Chris Higgins’s 2011-12 goal haul.Continue Reading —›
With last week’s three-part series on Daniel Sedin, we mistakenly believed we were done recapping every goal the Canucks scored during the 2011-12 regular season. Somehow, to our eternal regret, we missed two players: Alex “Napster” Edler and Chris “Abbey Road” Higgins. While this was an inexecrable error, it does mean we have another Monday-to-Thursday full of goodness for you.
Alex Edler had the best season of his career and it was a tremendous disappointment. At least, that was the general sentiment among Canucks fans after the Canucks were unceremoniously bounced in the first round of the playoffs. Despite setting career highs in goals, assists, and points and being named to the All-Star Game for the first time in his career, Edler’s season suffered in comparison to the season he played in the imaginations of Canucks fans.
Instead of being Superman, Edler was more often Ultra Boy, the hero with all of Superman’s powers who can only use them one at a time. Edler just wasn’t able to put all of his laudable skills into practice at the same time, leading to an uneven season that saw him triumph one moment and trip himself up the next.
With all that said, Edler still scored 11 goals to lead all Canucks’ defencemen and established himself as one of the best defencemen in the NHL. As Tom Benjamin put it, “being Ultra Boy is worthy of some admiration. Being able to use only one super power at a time seems to me to be a lot better than being without any super power at all.”
In any case, enjoy these 11 goals. Expect to see far fewer slapshots than you’re expecting, which is a loop that will lead to you to expect none at all. Expect more than that.Continue Reading —›
Every time we do the Every Goal series, I am always surprised by one thing: the player who we’re spotlighting isn’t necessarily the most impressive player involved in each goal. This is especially true for Daniel Sedin, who often ends up with an empty net to shoot at or a tap-in at the side of the net thanks to the work of his brother. In fact, Daniel’s best plays from last season are mostly found on other players’ goals.
In Daniel’s first 20 goals of the season, we’ve seen superb passing from Henrik, and Alexes Edler and Burrows, as well as some yeoman’s work by Ryan Kesler. These last 10 are no different. That isn’t to say that Daniel doesn’t make some beautiful plays of his own, nor is this meant to undermine his sublime skill in corralling passes and shooting where the goalie isn’t.
All I’m saying is that if you want to find Byron Bitz’s best play of last season, you’re going to want to watch these last 10 goals from Daniel Sedin.Continue Reading —›
Welcome to part 2 of Daniel Sedin’s Every Goal series, at we take a look at the middle 10 of his 30 goals in the 2011-12 season. Today, you’re going to see a whole lot of powerplay goals, a whole lot of Wizardous Sedinerie, and a whole lot of quietly, uncalled, Sedin interference. Pretty much what you’d expect from a Sedin goal compilation!
Today’s post also opens with the final two-thirds of Daniel Sedin’s most recent hat trick, a performance versus the Colorado Avalanche thaty may have been one of the best of his career. It’s all good stuff, is what I’m saying. Enjoy.Continue Reading —›