Friday, November 26, 2010

Canucks First Quarter Report Card

The Vancouver Canucks have now played 21 games and are a quarter of the way through their season. That means it's time for some letter grades...

Note that player grades are relative to expectations for the player!

Team Grades

Overall Team Grade: C+
The Canucks are 11-7-3 for 25 pts which puts them on a pace for 97.6 pts. Last year in the west, the 7th and 8th positions required 100 and 95 points respectively. Clearly the Canucks season so far hasn't quite been up to expectations.
Power Play: A
The Canucks have the best power play in the NHL at 25.6%. The only complaint with the power play is that there is a big drop off to the second unit. Despite that perception the non first unit forwards do have 5 goals which isn't too bad considering the amount of time they receive. Still you'd like the 2nd unit to be more consistent in terms of controlling the play in the offensive zone.
Penalty Kill: A
Last season the penalty kill was a huge issue, this year it is currently ranked 5th at 86.8%. They finished last season at 81.6% 18th overall. That is a huge improvement.

Player Grades

D Alex Edler: A
Alex Edler has been AV's go to guy and he's been the best overall Canuck this season. His offensive numbers are solid, while his defensive play has taken huge strides. He leads the team in ice time at almost 25 minutes a game and is out their in every critical situation.
F Daniel Sedin: A-
Daniel is tied for 5th in points (26) and is ranked 4th in goals (13). It's hard to argue with that kind of production. That said, the Sedins haven't controlled the play enough 5 on 5, so there is still (scarily enough) room for improvement.
F Henrik Sedin: B+
Like Daniel, Henrik's numbers put him up with the best of the NHL. He is tied for 5th in points (26) and leads the NHL with 24 assists. However Henrik hasn't been the same Hart Trophy player he was last season. He isn't taking the puck to the net enough and too often passes off the puck when last year he would try and score. As a result he has only 2 goals. He has become too reliant on Daniel and needs to remember that he's also capable of putting the puck in the net.
G Cory Schneider: B+
Up until the Buffalo start and Chicago debacle, Schneider had been absolutely brilliant, posting outstanding numbers.
F Ryan Kesler: B
Kesler has only 4 assists and half his points have come on the power play. Five on five the 2nd line has been a disappointment and Kesler is a part of that. On the positive side, Kesler's overall play has improved as the season has gone along and he is now playing very good hockey.
F Manny Malhotra: B
Malhotra has been a huge part of the Canucks improved penalty kill. He is ranked 2nd in faceoff pct at 62.3% and is 4th in total won faceoffs despite taking far few faceoffs than the guys in front of him. The only negative against him is that his line has been on for a few too many goals against.
D Andrew Alberts: B
I don't think anyone expected Alberts to play in every game and play 15 minutes a night - all while playing as well as he has. Sure there have been some low points, but overall Alberts has been pretty solid. The Canucks would like to dial back his minutes to the 12:00 mark, but so far he has met and maybe exceeded expectations.
D Kevin Bieksa: B-
Many will grumble at this ranking, but overall Bieksa has been pretty solid this season. You'd like higher offensive numbers and he frustrates you with his decision making, but he has been very good on the PK and is a +2 on the season.
F Alexandre Burrows: B-
Burrows has been a slight disappointment in 11 games since his return, but his struggles were expected. He appears to be on the cusp of returning to last year's form.
F Jannik Hansen: C+
Hansen needs to contribute more offensively, but he has been very good on the forecheck and has been a key contributor to the strong PK.
F Raffi Torres: C+
Torres has come pretty much exactly as advertised. He is great for a few games and is completely MIA in others. The inconsistency in offence is expected, but the Canucks need more consistency in terms of focus. Torres is capable of being a physical force far more often than he has been.
F Tanner Glass: C+
While the 4th line has been terrible Glass has had a decent start. He's managed to pop a couple goals, is on pace for nearly 20 points and has contributed to the PK as the 5th forward. If the 4th line wasn't so bad he'd deserve a higher grade. With better linemates (Bolduc, Hansen) Glass should have a better grade next quarter.
D Aaron Rome: C+
After sitting to start the season Rome has found himself playing more than expected. He has been a serviceable 3rd pairing guy, but he gets exposed when he has to play too much. So far this season he has been playing far too much at 17:04. Like Alberts the Canucks would like that down near the 12:00 mark.
F Peter Schaefer: C
Peter Schaefer's time as a Canuck is over, but he still gets a grade here. Schaefer was good on the PK when he got into the lineup, unfortunately for him he didn't make any kind of impact five on five.
F Guillaume Desbiens: C
Desbiens had a good opportunity coming out of training camp before he broke his hand in a fight. Despite the opportunity he didn't do much. I'll give him some slack because of the poor centre icemen he played with, but 4 shots on goal in 12 games shows that he hasn't been good enough on the forecheck and a -3 shows that the 4th line is "losing" too many shifts.
F Mikael Samuelsson: C-
The second line needs to be better and Samuelsson is a huge part of that. The effort has been there, but he looks like he is trying to do too much. He is over handling the puck and isn't playing with enough confidence. The numbers aren't terrible, but they need to be better.
F Mason Raymond: C-
Raymond has also struggled. It's believed he is playing with a hand injury so some of his play can be excused, but not all of it. Raymond is playing like the 08-09 Raymond, not the 09-10 Raymond. He should be better as the season progresses.
F Christian Ehrhoff: C-
While playing a tonne, Ehrhoff might be the most disappointing Canuck this season. The defensive game just hasn't been there. Too many turnovers and some weak physical play. The Brouwer goal (where he walked around Ehrhoff to the front of the net) pretty much sums up his weak play this season.
G Roberto Luongo: C-
8-7-2 2.82 .907 isn't good enough for a goalie making as much money as Roberto is. Luongo has had his moments of brilliance, but he has been inconsistent and has been outplayed by the other guy far too often.
D Dan Hamhuis: C-
Hamhuis got off to a great start, but has had his season derailed by a nagging foot injury. He should be arguably the team's best and most reliable defenseman. He's been far from bad and once healthy again he will be much better.
D Keith Ballard: D
Ballard has been a huge disappointment thus far, but things are starting to turn around. He is a much better defenseman than what we saw through the first quarter of the season. As he puts his health issues behind him and gets comfortable in Vancouver he is going to play a lot more and much better.
F Rick Rypien: D
It's not clear how much his personal issues have affected his play, but it is clear that Rypien is not good enough to be of much use right now. He failed in his opportunity to show he is capable of centering the 4th line and his poor puck skills have been a major factor in the ineffectiveness of the 4th line (can't get the puck out of the defensive zone).
F Jeff Tambellini (Incomplete)
In his first stint with the club he failed to do much as a bottom 6 forward, but when playing in a top 6 role he was much more effective. He's now back up and in a top 6 role and so far he has made the most of it. He's doing a great job at getting in a position to shoot the puck. If he keeps it up he'll find himself with a regular job on this team.
F Mario Bliznak (Incomplete)
Bliznak's called up was part of the Canucks new philosophy of giving guys some experience in the NHL to prepare them for future callups should the need arise later in the season or playoffs. Bliznak made the most of his 4 games, he has been the best 4th line centre the Canucks have iced since Bolduc went down in game 1. Needs to work on his faceoffs.
D Ryan Parent (Incomplete)
In limited action Parent was mistake prone, but showed flashes of why he was picked in the first round. The Canucks want to hang on to him and do not want to expose him to waivers. He will likely spend the rest of this season as the 8th defenseman and will only play in emergency situations. Currently the Canucks are taking advantage of the option to send him down to Manitoba for a conditioning stint.
F Joel Perrault (Incomplete)
Has only played 3 games, hasn't made much of an impact but has been good in the faceoff circle. Has a few games left before Bolduc returns and likely steals his job.
F Alexandre Bolduc (Incomplete)
Had a very good camp before spraining his ankle in the first game of the season. The 4th line has been terrible this season, the Canucks are counting on Bolduc to remedy the issue.

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