I know I said in my last blog that I was done writing for 2015. I even picked a photo of party hats and used it to wish you a Happy New Year. And I thought I was done, but then I read a Ben Kuzma’s recap of Thursday’s Canucks practice and a new blog was spawned:
So Sven Baertschi sounds doubtful for Friday against Anaheim and it looks like Chris Higgins will ring in the new year by replacing him on the Canucks second PP unit. That wouldn’t be my choice, but I’m not the coach.
But let’s just deal with a few facts here: the Canucks power play is in an 0/16 rut over the past eight games and is just 2/32 in its last dozen outings. And yet somehow Jannik Hansen, the team’s second leading goal-scorer, is buried when it comes to power play ice time among a long list of struggling scorers:
There is one player in the National Hockey League this season in double-digits when it comes to goals scored without a power play goal. Guess who that one player is?
Hansen’s now up to a dozen goals — all of them coming at even strength. On a team lacking trigger men, the Canucks have a guy who has shown an ability to find the back of the net with some semblance of regularity this season. So why not give him a shot to work with the man-advantage? The Canucks use Hansen in 4-on-4 situations (he scored against the Oilers last weekend) and 4-on-5. What harm could there be in trying him on the power play. Just run the Sedins and Hansen as a line out there and see if that produces a power play goal.
Hansen has scored one power play goal in his career. It came during the lockout season (2012-13) against Corey Crawford and the Chicago Blackhawks. A Jason Garrison shot ricocheted off Hansen and into the net. It was hardly a thing of beauty — but let’s be honest neither is the Canucks power play these days. So let’s give the Honey Badger a little sugar.
What more does Hansen have to do to earn power play time? Over the past five seasons, no one in the NHL with one career power play marker is even close to his goal-scoring total. This is the short list of players over the past five years with 50 or more goals to their credit with one or fewer power play goals:
And if that’s not enough of a case to get the poor guy some power play love, then try this on for size: according to Hockey Reference in the modern era of the NHL (since the league expanded from six to 12 teams in 1967), Jannik Hansen is right up at the top of a very short list of players who have scored without padding their stats on the power play. We’re talking nearly half a century of statistics here:
Look closely at the games played in the above chart and Hansen is nowhere close to the two guys listed above him. A few more goals and Jannik Hansen will stand alone over 50 years of NHL action. Hansen has shown an ability to perform in all situations and with all sorts of teammates. He can shoot the puck and he’s willing to get to the front of the net.
Again, we have to ask, what more does he have to do to get a sniff on the power play?
Maybe 2016 will be the year. Maybe.
Oh, and Happy New Year for a second time!