Canucks Game Day: Shark attack on tap as Jannik Hansen hunts for 20th goal

 

 
 
 
 
Vancouver Canucks winger Jannik Hansen (right), driving past the San Jose Sharks net on Tuesday, gets another crack at the Sharks tonight in San Jose, Calif.
 

Vancouver Canucks winger Jannik Hansen (right), driving past the San Jose Sharks net on Tuesday, gets another crack at the Sharks tonight in San Jose, Calif.

Photograph by: DARRYL DYCK, Vancouver Sun

More on This Story

 

SAN JOSE, Calif. — The Vancouver Canucks’ season is lost. But Jannik Hansen can still save his own.

The 30-year-old with lightning feet and thunder hands was on pace a month ago to obliterate the 20-goal barrier and the perception that he would never score as much as he should in the National Hockey League.

Then he suffered a rib injury and missed the first 11 games in March, which contributed to the Canucks’ dive towards the bottom of the standings. And Hansen is goal-less in four games since he returned. He scored his 18th and 19th of the season on Feb. 21 and hasn’t scored since. That was only four wins ago for the Canucks.

As the team plays out a bleak string of games at the end of the franchise’s worst season since the 1990s, everyone still has things to play for personally. Hansen’s target is just more obvious than everyone else’s as the Canucks, losers of nine straight, play the San Jose Sharks tonight.

“At the end of the year or a couple of years down the road, it’s nice to say you scored 20 goals in the league,” Hansen, whose previous career-high was 16, said after the morning skate here. “It was the same when I played my 500th game; when you’re in it, it’s just another game. But when you look back, it’s nice to get those milestones. I want to play 600 games, then 700 games. Those rounds numbers are always out there as milestones.”

He wants to score 20. He gets enough chances playing with Daniel and Henrik Sedin to score 30.

What if he hadn’t been hurt just as the Canucks were sliding over the precipice? What if he had played more than just 17:12 of power play time this season — 12th among Vancouver forwards?

“If we could play what-if, I would start with the fourth or fifth game of the season when we started losing games we were leading in the third period,” Hansen said. “I think there are probably 20 points out there where, with a little more smarts, we would have had them.

“I think my (average ice time) has jumped four minutes compared to last year. If you want to add another two or three minutes of power play, all of a sudden you’ve got a player playing more than 20 minutes. I’ve never played a whole lot of power play. In junior, I did it, but that’s 10 years ago now. I feel I’m a better penalty killer than a power-play guy.

“It’s always nice to score goals, but it’s also nice to play on the penalty kill. It’s probably even more important than the power play; you can hurt yourself a whole lot more than you can on the power play.”

Hansen is third among Canucks forwards with 174 minutes of penalty-kill time this season.

Canucks coach Willie Desjardins agreed Hansen deserves a 20-goal season and hinted at the influence the veteran Dane has on the dressing room.

“I’ve played the last four games and we haven’t won those, either,” Hansen said. “It’s nine games we’ve lost straight right now. We do have six left and I don’t know what’s going to happen the last six. You ask me 10 games into next season and it’s a lot easier question to answer (about the culture) because if we’re still losing next year, then we have an issue. What you’re talking about, the culture and stuff, yes it’s lonely right now and things haven’t gone well the last month and half. But it’s not like this has been brewing over a long period of time. If we’re still losing next year, then obviously something needs to change or you’re in danger.”

The Canucks will be helped tonight by the return of key defenceman Chris Tanev, who has missed the last six games and nine of the last 12 with injuries.

Scratched on Tuesday when the Canucks lost 4-1 to the Sharks in Vancouver, forward Linden Vey also returns to the lineup to replace rookie winger Jake Virtanen, who was suspended two games by the NHL for his late, blindside hit on San Jose defenceman Roman Polak.

Canucks defenceman Nikita Tryamkin, who said he couldn’t play Tuesday after blocking a shot in the morning skate, is expected back for his eighth NHL game.

imacintyre@postmedia.com

 
 
 
Font:
 
 
 
 
Vancouver Canucks winger Jannik Hansen (right), driving past the San Jose Sharks net on Tuesday, gets another crack at the Sharks tonight in San Jose, Calif.
 

Vancouver Canucks winger Jannik Hansen (right), driving past the San Jose Sharks net on Tuesday, gets another crack at the Sharks tonight in San Jose, Calif.

Photograph by: DARRYL DYCK, Vancouver Sun

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
We encourage all readers to share their views on our articles and blog posts. We are committed to maintaining a lively but civil forum for discussion, so we ask you to avoid personal attacks, and please keep your comments relevant and respectful. If you encounter a comment that is abusive, click the "X" in the upper right corner of the comment box to report spam or abuse. We are using Facebook commenting. Visit our FAQ page for more information.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Your voice