Sunday, December 07, 2008

November Report Card

Team Grades

Overall: A- (Oct: C+) (W 8 - L 3 - OTL 2 - 18pts, GF 34 GA 29)
For the Vancouver Canucks the month of November was one of the best months in recent memory. It began with an important 6 game homestand before a terribly scheduled 4 game road trip. The Canucks went 4-1-1 at home which set them up for the usual goal of having a .500 road trip. The trip started off with a wasted opportunity against the Islanders. What followed was three very impressive victories against the Rangers, Minnesota Wild and the Pittsburgh Penguins. Unfortunately Roberto Luongo went down with a serious groin injury and the Canucks were faced with the possibility of not having their most important player for more than a month. Still riding high, the Canucks would come home and beat the Detroit Red Wings in overtime for the second time this season. To finish off the month the Flames and Canucks would square off in a home and home series with a huge point swing up for grabs. The Flames would go on to spoil what was otherwise an outstanding month for the Vancouver Canucks.
The Penalty Kill: C+ (Oct: C) (PK% 81.0, 47 for 58, SHG 1, Home 80.0%, Road 82.6%)
The Canucks were only one kill better in November, oddly enough they were shorthanded 58 times -- the same as October. So why the higher "C+" grade? Well, although the PK numbers were nearly the same on the road the PK was a solid 82.6%, up from October's dismal 73.9%. I think it's safe to say that the Canucks wouldn't have gone 4-0-1 on their 5 game road trip from hell had they continued to only kill 3 out of 4 penalties.
The Power Play: F (Oct: B) (PK% 11.9%, 7 for 59, Home 11.9%, Road 11.8%)
It's remarkable that the Canucks managed to pick up 18 of a possible 26 points in a month where their power play was so terrible. At the best of times the Canuck power play isn't great, but without two of their best point shots (Salo and Bieksa) in the lineup the power play becomes anemic. Really there's not much more to say, the power play was simply atrocious in November. The Canucks won't make the playoffs with a 12% power play success rate.

The Forwards

Format: Grade (Oct) (Games, Goals, Assists, Points, +/-, IceTime[season avg] )

Daniel Sedin A- (C) (GP 13, G 8, A 6, PTS 14, +8, 19:46)
November was a big month for Daniel, as he scored at a 50 goal pace and nearly brought his numbers up to a point a game pace. He was also a plus 8 in nearly 20 minutes of ice time per night. The only downside to Daniel's game was the 4 minor penalties which is one or two too many for a non-physical player (IE: too many hooking type penalties).
Pavol Demitra A- (C-) (GP 8, G 5, A 5, PTS 10, +3, 17:52)
After missing half the month Demitra returned to the lineup with a vengeance, putting up 10 points in 8 games. Demitra found himself riding shotgun on the Sedin line and he capitalized on the opportunities. Demitra's point totals included 5 goals and an assist during the critical 4 game road trip.
Kyle Wellwood B+ (B) (GP 13, G 6, A 2, PTS 8, +4, 13:50)
If October solidified Wellwood's spot in the lineup, November solidified his status as a key offensive contributor. Wellwood has an uncanny knack for coming out of nowhere to score big goals. Question marks still remain regarding his liabilities defensively, but he continues to be excellent in the faceoff circle and shows great intelligence both offensively and defensively. The only thing limiting Wellwood's defensive ability is his body (size, strength, conditioning and skating) -- the brains are there.
Taylor Pyatt B (D) (GP 13, G 2, A 4, PTS 6, +2, 14:58)
Taylor Pyatt had a terrible October, but managed to turn things around in November. Yes, you want more than two goals in 13 games, but Pyatt did put up a 38 point pace in November, which is exactly one point more than the 37 pts he has in each of his two seasons as a Canuck. What wasn't really expected from Pyatt is his strong contribution on the penalty kill where he added nearly a full minute to his average short handed ice-time per game, demonstrating the confidence he is receiving from the coaching staff. While he is never going to be a "mean power forward", Pyatt is finally using his size effectively which is a good sign for the remainder of the season.
Henrik Sedin B- (C+) (GP 13, G 1, A 12, PTS 13, +6, 20:08)
Henrik Sedin nearly managed to put up an assist per game average, but only scored 1 goal all month. One goal isn't good enough. That said, a point a game is great and Henrik continued his strong play in the faceoff circle, maintaining his 52.4% rating.
Darcy Hordichuk B- (C) (GP 13, G 1, A 0, PTS 1, +3, 5:47)
Darcy Hordichuk picked up his first goal as a Canuck and was a +3 for the month. Combined with his enforcer contributions it was a very solid month for Hordichuk, but I would like to see more good forechecking shifts from the 4th line.
Ryan Kesler C+ (A) (GP 13, G 1, A 2, PTS 3, +3, 19:06)
After a red hot October, Kesler cooled off in a big way in November with only 3 points. However his strong defensive play continued as did his faceoff numbers. Offensively the Canucks expect more, but you have to wonder if Kesler is playing hurt. He's been noticeably banged up on numerous plays this season and the offense has been limited.
Alex Burrows C+ (A) (GP 13, G 2, A 2, PTS 4, +1, 16:02)
Alex Burrows continued to play his usual strong defensive game on the Canucks third line and the PK. However, the offense dried up a little bit. Burrows needs to find a balance between his October 67 point pace and his November 25 point pace.
Ryan Johnson C+ (C+) (GP 11, G 1, A 0, PTS 1, +0, 12:01)
Johnson managed picked up his first goal of the year, a game winner against the Rangers, but that was it for offensive contributions. Defensively, he continued to be a monster shot blocker but also struggled in the faceoff circle. We would later learn that he was playing with a fractured foot.
Jannik Hansen C (B) (GP 9, G 0, A 5, PTS 5, +4, 13:36)
Hansen missed four games with an injury and failed to put the puck in the net all month. He also managed a meager 9 shots on goal. Numbers aside, during his injury Hansen's presence was missed and that says a lot about his non-offensive contributions.
Mike Brown C (C-) (GP 6, G 0, A 1, PTS 1, +0, 5:41)
It was a better month for Mike Brown as he finally contributed something more than a willingness to drop the gloves. Still, that something wasn't much. He had a couple games where his ice-time got up around 9:00, demonstrating that he can earn ice-time when he is effective (ie: generating a forecheck). However he still had too many sub 6:00 minute games.
Mason Raymond C- (B+) (GP 13, G 2, A 2, PTS 4, +6, 15:08)
It was a disappointing month offensively for Mayson Raymond. Two goals in 13 games is not good enough for someone who is supposed to be an offensive contributor. Raymond was demoted to the 4th line and saw his season ice time average drop by nearly an entire minute. To make matters worse he took 6 minor penalties, that's nearly one every other game. His low point may have been a terrible game on Long Island.
Steve Bernier D+ (C+) (GP 12, G 1, A 1, PTS 2, +4, 14:05)
While I don't think Bernier played as poorly as his numbers would indicate, this game is about results and the results simply aren't there for Bernier. Bernier has been a huge disappointment offensively. Still there are things to like. He leads the team in hits by a wide margin and is also right up there in takeaways, which tells you that he has been strong on the forecheck. He also continues to go to the net and is still getting shots on goal. If he keeps doing these things eventually the offense should come.
Jason Krog NG (C) (GP 1, G 0, A 0, PTS 0, +0 10:14)
Not Graded
Rick Rypien NG (C+) (Did not play)
Not Graded
Alexander Bolduc NG (NG) (GP 2, G 0, A 0, PTS 0, +0, 7:34)
Not Graded
Michel Ouellet NG (NG) (GP 3, G 0, A 0, PTS 0, +1 9:38)
Not Graded

The Defense

Willie Mitchell A (B+) (GP 13, G 1, A 2, PTS 3, +8, 22:45)
Willie Mitchell probably had the best month of his career and was a major factor in the Canucks successful road trip. Up until the Calgary back to back, Mitchell had a stretch of 14 games where he was not a minus and there was also a stretch where he wasn't even on the ice for an even strength goal. As if his defense wasn't enough, Mitchell has also shown a new emphasis on joining the rush and also on getting pucks on net. The result: 8 points and 29 shots on goal in 24 games. His career bests: 14 pts and 67 shots.
Shane O'Brian B+ (C) (GP 13, G 0, A 1, PTS 1, +5, 16:05)
Shane O'Brian stepped up in a big way during Bieksa's injury. O'Brian was a completely different player than the one who arrived in Vancouver. He showed great poise and confidence with the puck and was very solid in his own end. The only downside to his game was the obscene number of minor penalties.
Mattias Ohlund B+ (B) (GP 13, G 0, A 6, PTS 6, +12, X:XX)
Ohlund finished November without being a minus in any game and was an impressive +12 for the month. While he was strong defensively Ohlund failed to step up on the power play with only one assist. He did a better job of getting pucks through to the net, but the Canucks need Ohlund to contribute on the power play, especially when Bieksa and Salo are out.
Kevin Bieksa B (B+) (GP 7, G 1, A 3, PTS 4, +2, 24:13)
Kevin Bieksa missed the middle of the month with an injury and played in only 7 games. Before his first game back against Calgary, Bieksa had a streak of 8 games without being a minus. He continued his strong play from October and aside from the injury he had a good November.
Sami Salo B (B) (GP 11, G 2, A 3, PTS 5, +4, 19:59)
Sami Salo scored twice and made them count as they were both game winners. He also managed an average of two shots on goal per game, a welcome sign for someone who often seems unwilling to shoot the puck. Defensively he was his usual solid self. Unfortunately Salo again missed a couple games, which is very concerning moving forward -- the Canuck power play isn't great with him in the lineup and is downright terrible when he isn't.
Rob Davison B- (NG) (GP 5, G 0, 0 X, PTS 0, -1, X:XX)
Davison stepped in and did a decent job during Bieksa's injury. He even earned the start against Detroit (over the more mobile Nycholat) after what was his best game of the season in Pittsburgh where he was a plus 1 in almost 15 minutes of ice-time. Davison lived up to his role as a physical7th defenseman -- he didn't hurt his team during a key stretch and he was ready and willing to drop the gloves.
Alexander Edler C- (B-) (GP 11, G 0, A 2, PTS 2, -3, 21:51)
Alexander Edler had his worst month as a Canuck. His struggles in October were only a small sign of things to come. Poor passes and giveaways in his own zone were familiar occurrences. Offensively Edler managed only a pair of assists and failed to take advantage of his opportunity to get back on the power play during the absences of Salo and Bieksa. The Canucks need Edler to be better.
Lawrence Nycholat C- (NG) (GP 5, G 0, A 1, PTS 1, +3, 10:15)
With injuries on the blueline, Nycholat had an opportunity to step in and show what he could do. Unfortunately it wasn't much. At a time when the Canucks power play was struggling and lacking defensemen, Nycholat didn't step up in what should be his niche role. Nycholat also saw his ice time decrease in each consecutive game of the road trip -- with such a travel schedule you would think you would want to spread the ice-time around -- Nycholat couldn't earn the confidence of the coaching staff. That said, he was a plus 3 on the month and only took one minor penalty so he wasn't terrible.

The Goalies

Roberto Luongo A (C) (GP 9, Record: 5-1-2, GAA: 1.11, Sv%: 0.959, SO 3)
Roberto Luongo was simply outstanding in November. Tremendous numbers and three consecutive shutouts. A big improvement over October, hopefully his injury will not keep him out for too long.
Curtis Sanford A- (C) (GP 4, Record: 3-1-0, GAA: 2.25, Sv%: 0.921, SO 0)
Sanford stepped in and got the job done in a difficult stretch of games. Despite a few soft goals, the numbers don't lie. The only blemish on Sanford's month was the final game against Calgary, aside from that Sanford came up with 3 huge victories.
Cory Schneider NG (NG) (GP 1, Record: 0-1-0, GAA: 3.00, Sv%: 0.903, SO 0)
Not Graded

Previous Report Cards

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