Sunday, February 01, 2015

Ryan Miller, Shawn Matthias and the Canucks' top five plays of January 2015

Miller's 200-minute shutout streak this January is the third-longest in Canucks history.
Flickr: Jerry Meaden

As quickly as Ryan Miller started living up to his $6 million price tag, he's plummeted back into goaltending mediocrity. For a stretch  between December 20 and January 19, Ryan Miller put together a .955 save percentage. That run, which included the longest shutout streak in Canucks history since Roberto Luongo in 2008 -- bumped his save percentage up to a healthy .919.

If not for his struggles around mid-November and early-December, when that percentage hovered around .900 and the bottom of the league, he just might have been a consideration to join Radim Vrbata in Columbus this past month. But since then, the softies have again found ways to squeak through. 

As of today's loss against Minnesota, he ranks 19th in save percentage, putting him in the same range as Jonathan "centre ice" Bernier (.915), Anton Khubodin (.914) and Cam Ward (.913) -- all of whom are goalies on non-playoff teams. Conversely, thanks to back-to-back shutouts this month against Philadelphia and Carolina, Miller ranks second in league shutouts. Which is a perfect representation of the Miller we've come to know in his first year with Vancouver. When he's on -- he's worth all $6 million and more. When he's not -- the thought of possibly dangling Lack as trade bait becomes increasingly frightening.

But such fright has no place in these monthly highlight packages. This is a place where Miller charges Brayden Schenn glove-save-deep in a 200-minute shutout streak. And where Luongo's trade return outperforms Zack Kassian and embarrasses Justin Faulk at every opportunity. That said, here are the top five plays from the Vancouver Canucks this past January.

You saw it here first. A Canucks highlight package that doesn't feature either Sedin. It's not even as if the twins didn't perform this past month. With 9 and 10 points, respectively, Daniel and Henrik led the Canucks in January scoring. Though something tells me that if Shawn Matthias could borrow just the smallest fraction of puck luck or finish around the net, he could have easily tripled or quadrupled his 1 goal and 2 assists this month.

Simply put, Matthias is playing incredible hockey. His effort and playing style is exactly what the Canucks have needed from Kassian. If only some combination of either Matthias developing more of Kassian's raw skill or the latter developing more of the Matthias's determination could come to fruition.

Matthias isn't scoring often, but that's about as pretty a goal as you'll see any of the Canucks score this season.



The Canucks' Top 5 Goals of December 2014
The Canucks' Top 5 Goals of November 2014
Vrbata and Miller: The Canucks' shiniest new toys

Saturday, January 03, 2015

The Canucks' month-in-review and top five goals of December (video)

With 10 points in 11 games, Daniel led all Canucks in scoring this December.

Bless those Canucks for keeping it interesting. Never mind Thursday night's all-too-familiar victimization at the hands of Los Angles. December's back-and-forth 5-4-2 record is a microcosm for everything Canucks fans are wondering about their team right now. The Canucks have dropped in the standings and now that expectations have levelled out in kind, it's been hard to get a proper read on the team mid-season.

On one hand, you have a team that can appropriately dismantle bottom-rung teams like the Arizona Coyotes -- complete with a rousing swan song from Tom "skill-is-overrated" Sestito. The same team that can register a gutsy 3-1 win against the San Jose Sharks on the back of Ryan Miller.

On the other hand, there's the Canucks we've seen this past month that can't time a pinch from any defenceman to save their lives. The same Canucks that gave up a 3-0 lead to the 23rd-place Ottawa Senators. And yes, the most-recent iteration of the Canucks that have been outshot a well-documented 103-51 in their last three games.

But hey. It's the holidays. So while the Canucks' YouTube channel gave you three minutes of feel-good Christmas banter and Luca Sbisa adorably cuddling a BC SPCA kitten, Bure's Triple Deke is here to give you the team's top five goals from the past month.