For a team that struggles so mightily to score most nights, the Vancouver Canucks sure do toss the biscuit at the basket a lot.
Take out the 7-1 drubbing of the Montreal Canadiens and Vancouver has 23 goals in 10 games; those 2.3 goals per game would rank them 26th instead of their current 18th.
But take away the 35 shots the Canucks threw at the net that night and it has a much less dramatic effect; dropping them from 33.9 to 33.8 shots per game, leaving them fifth in the league instead of fourth.
Last season, Vancouver was 25th in shots per game – averaging 28.5 – and they had only one player, Daniel Sedin, among the top 100 in shots. This season, they have three among the top 30; Mikael Samuelsson, Alex Burrows and Mason Raymond. Add in a healthy Daniel Sedin, who would be leading the team in shots was he not injured, and a recuperated Pavol Demitra and who knows how many shots they’d produce.
It’s the veterans who will ultimately have to pick the offense up by the scruff of the neck and actually start putting the puck in the net until the budding youngsters find a knack; once Sedin and Demitra return that will be their purpose.
But the fact the team is creating so many opportunities is a great sign, especially since they also rank third-best in shots against per game.
Since Markus Naslund left, the Canucks have lacked a second player capable of consistently putting up 200 shots a season.
Now, they have Mikael Samuelsson – who has easily passed the mark the past two seasons – and a group of young players whose career progressions are taking them towards the watermark. Is it too much to ask the usual 200-shot suspects, Samuelsson and Daniel Sedin, to do the same, and still ask Burrows, Raymond, Ryan Kesler, Kevin Bieksa and even a surprising shot-producing Michael Grabner to hit 200?
Perhaps. But the best offensive teams have at least a few players who hit that total.
One thing is for sure: even though this team was knocked out last year because of a lack of secondary scoring and are lately winning games by scores of 3-2 or 2-1, they don’t necessarily have to continue to live with that stigma as long as they keep up with this surprising statistic.
Because you know what the best way to score goals is? Shooting the puck!
This article also appeared in the Vancouver Metro newspaper.
Rory Boylen is TheHockeyNews.com’s web content specialist and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog will appear regularly in the off-season.
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