BY ISRAEL FEHR – FAN FUEL BLOGGER
1. Regressing Rookies: A couple of young players that have had strong spurts for Vancouver this season have gone quiet. By definition Zack Kassian is no longer a rookie but he’s only played 62 career NHL games and for the alliterative measures of the headline he’s a rookie. Kassian scored five goals in the season’s opening seven games – since then, a span of 11 games, all he has mustered is three assists and he has found himself playing on a new line seemingly every game.
Since Ryan Kesler returned seven games ago, Jordan Schroeder has been limited to one assist and is a minus-five. It’s not entirely surprising that both Kassian and Schroeder have regressed but it’s just another example that expectations should be tempered for young players – especially Kassian.
2. Road Trip Results: An otherwise productive road trip was soured by Sunday’s 8-3 loss in Detroit. The Canucks rallied late to claim a shootout point in Chicago, held on for both points in a back-and-forth affair in Dallas, and grinded out a 1-0 regulation win in Nashville. So overall, Vancouver closed out the trip taking five out of an available eight points. The style of play wasn’t particularly pretty but with the exception of the Detroit mess, there were positives to be taken. The Canucks battled back against the Blackhawks, the league’s best team by record, goal differential, and acclaim, and they successfully suppressed the Predators, the league’s fourth stingiest defence (2.15 GA per game).
3. Goaltending: The Vancouver goalies split the starts on the four game excursion. Cory Schneider started the first two, Roberto Luongo the last two. Schneider was spectacular against the Blackhawks while Luongo posted a shutout on Friday night before giving up eight goals on Sunday afternoon. The 8-3 Red Wings disaster was his first regulation time loss of the season and his numbers took a hit. The eight goals against inflated Luongo’s GAA from 1.45 to 2.11.
The goalie rotation is expected to continue as the Canucks have a Saturday/Sunday back-to-back this week. As far as trade speculation is concerned, there is nothing new to chew on.
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4. Sedin Surge: Early in the season there was a growing sense that maybe the Sedin’s days as point-per-game performers were over. Those worries have swiftly been quelled. The Sedin’s each have nine points in their last six games and are doing so with typical Sedin-wizardry.
Daniel Sedin passed Trevor Linden with no fanfare for third on the franchise’s all-time scoring list. With 20 more points for Daniel and the Sedin twins will be No. 1 and No. 2 on that list.
5. Jannik Hansen’s Suspension: Jannik Hansen was at the centre of some controversy for delivering a forearm to the head of Blackhawks forward Marian Hossa in last Tuesday’s game. It was a strange play that ended with Hossa lying motionless on the ice and Hansen assessed a two-minute roughing minor. The subsequent discussion revolved around whether or not any supplemental discipline was in order. The next day the NHL ruled that Hansen would be suspended for one game. The decision took into account Hansen’s clean history as well as Hossa’s past concussions issues, notably the head shot he took from Raffi Torres in last season’s playoffs. What the decision didn’t address or make any clearer is how the NHL approaches these situations and how the rules are interpreted.