Wednesday, November 29, 2006

A barnburner in B.C.
No, not really

The second worst goal scoring team met the third worst goal scoring team in a dust-up in the frozen tundra that is Vancouver last night.

Final score?

Canucks 1, Blue Jackets 0

You have to wonder just what Vancouver fans are feeling this year, as I've caught about half the Canucks' games, and almost every single one has been nearly as coma-inducing as whatever the Home and Garden network is showing.

I suppose Canuck fans have been spoiled in recent years given they've had one of the highest scoring teams over that period, but 55 goals in 25 games? Vancouver's on pace for 180 goals this season, the lowest total in the history of the franchise and one of the lowest totals since 2000.

That's quite a dip from 2002-03 when the Canucks were the NHL's second highest scoring team.

The bizarre thing is that Vancouver is creating chances — they're 7th in the league in shots on goal per game — and not allowing many against — 3rd best in shots against. If, at the beginning of the season, you were told to chart how well the Canucks were doing going on those figures alone, one would put them near the top of the heap.


The team's save percentage? Not so good (.899). Probably a record low for a Roberto Luongo goaltended team.

Shooting percentage? Also ungood (6.93%). The worst in the league, in fact — and almost a full percent lower than Columbus.

That alone probably gives you a good idea of what Vancouver's games have looked like. Well, that and the fact $6-million man Markus Naslund is on pace for 62 points and the team's $6.75-million goaltender has the worst save percentage of his career.

GM Dave Nonis is also paying Marc Chouinard $1.1-million for one point in 17 games, Jan Bulis $1.3-million for 7 points in 24 games, Brendan Morrison $3.2-million for 11 points in 25 games, Ryan Kesler $1.9-million for 5 points in 25 games and Matt Cooke $1.5-million for 5 points in 25 games. Five players, $9-million, 116 games played and 29 points. Throw in Naslund and Luongo, and that's more than half the team's salary — and none of the above have pulled their weight this season.

How all that doesn't put them last in the conference, I haven't the foggiest.



At 9:02 a.m., November 29, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

That rather revealing image of the disallowed goal makes me want to kick a kitten. Or a puppy. Probably both, actually.

At 9:45 a.m., November 29, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Canucks are not a playoff team by any measure. They will avoid last place in the conference because the bottom is crowded with the Blues, Hawks, StraightJackets, and Gretzkies. Combine Losing Team + Boring Team = Decreased Ticket Sales starting next season. John McCaw sold to a couple of local suckers right at the top.

At 12:54 p.m., November 29, 2006, Anonymous Darren said...

It's a bit baffling to me as well, and I watch nearly every game. Luongo has been better than his save percentage reflects, certainly.

The local thinking is that Vancouver is becoming Calgary--good goaltender, tight defence and a team that scores one more goal than the other team. Not particularly fun, but we've been spoiled by run-and-gun offense in the past decade, I guess.

As for the underachievers--it's Nonis's mess to clean up. Chouinard isn't even playing in every game, and Bulis is shamefully bad. Kesler is untradeable and will get better, so we just have to eat that one, I think.

As Nonis has said, all he expects is for those players to play as well as they did last year. Not better, just as well. That strikes me as pretty reasonable.


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