Something that hasn’t received enough attention until only recently is how poor the Canucks have been at 5-on-5 play. Sure their power play is fantastic at a league best 26.7% and their penalty killing is respectable, ranking 12th in the league at 84.4%. But it is their play at even strength that is concerning. Currently Vancouver ranks 22nd in 5-on-5 play, not good enough for a team that prides itself on its skill level and depth.
This was not the case last regular season, when the Canucks finished the regular season second best in 5-on-5 play, behind
those f***ing the Boston Bruins. But in the playoffs, the Canucks struggled at 5-on-5 play, and ran into trouble in the final when the referees whistles went missing.
Poor play at 5-on-5 is an indication to me that the team isn’t working hard enough. Scoring on the power play isn’t easy, but it doesn’t take nearly enough grit to do as scoring 5-on-5.
Looking at their roster, there’s no reason that they ought to be poor at even strength. It’s still early in the season, but there ought to be more production.
When I look at the team’s even strength goal scoring leaders, alarm bells go off for me. Jannik Hansen and Chris Higgins, each with 5 even strength goals, lead the team. Those two players have combined for more even strength goals this year than their top four forwards: Henrik Sedin (3), Daniel Sedin (2), Alex Burrows (3) and Ryan Kesler (0).
The NHL season is still early, but it’s not THAT early. Nineteen games have passed and it’s time for the Canucks’ best players to get going.