He’s made his list. He’s checked it twice. Santa knows which Canucks have been naughty, and which have been nice.
With just a little over a week until the Jolly Old St. Nicholas commits several hundred million acts of B&E, we take a sneak peek at his magic Naughty-or-Nice list to see how he rates the Canucks.
Henrik and Daniel Sedin: Nice. Very, very nice. What else can be said about the Sedins? After signing huge new contracts in the off-season, the play of the twin Swedes has found yet another new level. Henrik, currently ranked second in the league in scoring, is having a career year despite not having his brother on left wing for 18 games. With 14 goals already (his career high is 22), Hank is proving he isn’t just an extraordinary setup man. For his part, Daniel has 19 points in his 15 games played. Although he’s played 18 fewer games, Daniel’s points per game (1.27) matches that of his brother. Surprised? Thought not.
Kyle Wellwood: Naughty. So much skill…so little intensity. Ever since becoming a Canuck, Wellwood has tantalized fans with his talent, and frustrated them with his lack of results and seeming indifference at times. His current press-box spell may be an indication that his time in Canuck blue may be done.
(CANUCKS HOCKEY BLOG/Flickr)
Ryan Kesler: Nice. Kes has been Mr. Everything for the Canucks this year — power play, penalty kill, second-line anchor, hitter, checker, agitator — and has done everything well. Even during his recent goal drought, he was still setting up his linemates.
Mathieu Schneider: Naughty. Schneider was brought in to be an offensive force, but with only 5 points in 16 games played, his influence has been minimal. When he’s been called upon to play defense, Schneider has frequently looked every bit of his 40 years of age. It may well be that his veteran savvy will prove valuable as the season wears on, but we have to wonder how much is left in the tank.
Christian Ehrhoff: Nice. The other major Gillis off-season acquisition on defense has made the general manager look like a genius. Currently third in the league in plus/minus, Ehrhoff has shown surprising defensive ability while at the same time becoming the leading offensive force on the blueline.
Kevin Bieksa and Willie Mitchell: Naughty. Bieksa and Mitchell are here together because their situations are very similar. Neither defenseman has been horrible, per se, but both have been maddeningly inconsistent. And when both of them would’ve been considered the most dependable of the Canuck D-men at the start of the season, that inconsistency is a bad thing. Alex Edler is in the same boat.
Roberto Luongo: Naughty Nice. We should all expect it by now, but Luongo’s slow start was slooooooow. He lost his first three starts, getting pulled in the third one after allowing 4 goals on 12 shots, and then let in 5 in 19 shots against Calgary to lose his fourth in six games. However, he has turned it around at least somewhat, going 9-5 since mid-November. His goals-against is still a little high at 2.41, but his save percentage (0.917) is right around his career average.
Alain Vigneault and Mike Gillis: Nice. Coach V has fought his usual tendency of experimenting with line combinations. As a result, his forward lines seem to have a higher level of cohesion than in the past. GM Gillis brought in several solid contributors this summer, including Ehrhoff, Mikael Samuelsson, and Tanner Glass, and was able to get Luongo and the Sedins signed.
Some other players on the Nice list: Mikael Samuelsson (solid offensive presence), Alex Burrows (third in team scoring), Mason Raymond (career high in goals already), Tanner Glass (emerged as dependable, energetic third/fourth-liner), Rick Rypien (staying healthy and taking all comers).
Other Naughty-listers: Steve Bernier (needs to throw his weight around more consistently), Darcy Hordichuk (quickly becoming irrelevant).
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!