Thursday, March 28, 2013

Honey Badger weaseling Canucks into the win column

Hansen most likely staring down a pot of honey.
With a pair of 1-0 shutout wins in the Canucks' past three games, buzz words like "the intangibles" and "workmanlike effort" have abounded.  To be fair, the Columbus Blue Jackets' 2.15 goals per game ranks last in the league.  The Los Angeles Kings, however, are seventh in that regard (2.88) and were held to just 20 shots on Saturday.  During that game, Jannik Hansen had an assist and two of the Canucks' 13 shots on goal.

It should come as no surprise then, that the Canucks' workmanlike prototype has been leading the way for the past month with 12 points in March.  The Danish winger of uniquely-pitched fame has enjoyed a much-publicized surge in production this year.  If you had been told in January that the third-line staple would be the Canucks' highest-scoring non-Sedin thirty-three games in, you might have imagined that Burrows, Raymond, Higgins, Edler and probably even Bieksa had all joined Kesler and Booth on the injured reseve.  But with 8 goals and 11 assists, Hansen sits third in team scoring at a pace that would see him approach 50 points over an 82-game season.

The value of secondary scoring on the Canucks goes without saying these days, given the aforementioned injuries.  But Hansen's continued surge has been made further apparent with the Sedins and, by extension, the powerplay deep in another scoring drought.  In the past nine games, Henrik and Daniel have just five and four points, respectively, while the powerplay has connected on a mere two occasions.  How is then, that the Canucks have managed a 7-2 record in that span, including their current five-game streak? 

Over the same nine games, Hansen has two goals, including the game-winner against Nashville, and seven points, a total that nearly matches that of Henrik and Daniel combined.  And given the powerplay's ineptitude, even-strength scoring is at a premium.  Enter Hansen's 18 even-strength points, which currently sits just one behind Daniel and four behind Henrik.  On a league-wide basis, that puts him on par with Zach Parise and Corey Perry.  (Quick, sign him to a 25-year deal!)  So if you're looking for a single player to credit for any of the Canucks' success this season, look no further than the honey-loving winger.

In the Canucks' most recent pair of games, Hansen has, however, been without a point.  Nonetheless, he threw four shots on goal against Columbus.  And had he gotten to the far post a split-second before Bobrovsy in overtime, we might be currently heralding him as the next Burrows.  True to the comparison, Hansen has been among the league's best bargains this year with a $1.3 million cap hit.  True to the comparison, the Canucks would not likely be competing for first in the division without him.  Virtually all that's missing is a backhand deke.

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