Difficult to find a Canucks MVP
This might explain Vancouver's record so far this season
Here's something almost as exciting as two games in six days against the Columbus Blue Jackets, the Monday morning musings and meditations on the world of sports.
? Query: Who's been the Vancouver Canucks' MVP over the first half of the season?
If you're going by stats, it's probably Henrik Sedin - tied with brother Daniel for the team lead in points before Sunday's games - who had five goals and was plus-13. But you wouldn't say Henrik had a good first half.
You could also make a case for Roberto Luongo, whose first-half numbers were distorted by the 8-3 loss in Detroit. But Lui is basically the team's backup goalie. Dan Ham-huis has been his usual solid self, but he hasn't exactly been an MVP. Kevin Bieksa was off to a good start, but then he ran into the injury bug.
Beyond those players, there are two Canucks who've surpassed expectations this season: Jannik Hansen and Chris Tanev. Some, like Mason Raymond and Chris Higgins, have been OK. Most have been below par. When you consider that's about two-thirds of the lineup on most nights - and we're throwing the twins into that group - it begins to explain the Canucks' record.
? Tampa Bay and Florida sat, respectively, 13th and 15th in the Eastern Conference before Sunday's games. Both teams had playoff aspirations before the start of the season and both teams have a crying need for an established NHL goalie.
Both teams, however, are content to doddle along at the bottom of their conference. You just wonder if the fan base in a traditional hockey market would let their organization get away with standing pat while their season goes down the tubes.
? More exciting news for Canucks fans. Now that the Ryan O'Reilly soap opera has been settled, the Colorado Avalanche will be a force in the second half of this season. The Avs' three centres now are Matt Duchene, Paul Stastny and O'Reilly, and in the 6-2 win that ended Chicago's unbeaten streak on Friday night, O'Reilly had a goal, an assist, nine shots on net and won 69 per cent of his faceoffs.
The Avs, it should be noted, were in the process of trying to trade O'Reilly when Flames GM Jay Feaster brought the situation to a head with an offer sheet. Don't know how close they were to a trade. Do know they're a dangerous team with O'Reilly in the lineup
? Pat Quinn was in his first full season as an NHL head coach in 1979-80 when the Philadelphia Flyers went on their record 35-game unbeaten streak. He was asked how closely he was watching the Chicago Blackhawks' 24-game unbeaten streak, which came to an end Friday night in Denver.
"In one way, you're cheering for them," Quinn said. "I like the way they play. They're an exciting team to watch. It's too bad we're seeing too many teams trying to shut it down.
"But if it would have gone to that 35th game, I might have been pulling for someone from the other team to do something special. I'm glad I didn't get there."
? TSN and the CFL have agreed in principle to a new television deal and, while details haven't been released, sources say the league has hit a massive home run with the new contract. How massive, you ask? The deal that just expired was worth a reported $75 million over five years. The new one is more than double that, which will give CFL teams a level of security they haven't experienced since the '70s.
? After Saturday's win over Columbus, Nigel Reo-Coker, the Whitecaps very interesting midfielder, was asked if it's difficult for a new player to step into a leadership role. Apparently, it isn't. Apparently, Reo-Coker doesn't have a problem with confidence, either.
"It's not something I want people to see as arrogance," he said. "I've always been a team player. But I'm a natural leader and it's not because of talking. It's the knowledge of the game I've gained from playing so many years. If I don't do that on the pitch I'm not being true to myself."
? And finally, you can't say Tiger Woods is all the way back until he wins a major, but if he wasn't the pre-train-wreck, pre-knee surgery Tiger at the Cadillac Championship, you'd have a hard time proving it by the scorecard.
No matter what you think of him personally, the game is more interesting when Woods is in the Darth Vader mode, and next month's Masters is already shaping up as appointment viewing.
Woods is now 37. Enjoy this because if he makes it all the way back, it might be the most compelling chapter of his career.
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You could make a case for Roberto Luongo, whose first-half numbers were distorted by the 8-3 loss in Detroit, as a front-runner for the Canucks' most valuable player, but he is basically the club's backup goalie.
Photograph by: Gerry Kahrmann, PNG Files, The Province