Iain MacIntyre: Jannik Hansen is cashing in this season

 

Denmark native is on pace to surpass his personal best for goals and points in a season

 
 
 
 
Vancouver Canucks forward Jannik Hansen celebrates the first of his two goals, including the game winner in overtime, in a 3-2 win over the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday at Rogers Arena.
 
 

Vancouver Canucks forward Jannik Hansen celebrates the first of his two goals, including the game winner in overtime, in a 3-2 win over the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday at Rogers Arena.

Photograph by: Gerry Kahrmann, PNG

More on This Story

 

Jannik Hansen won some money on Sunday. On Saturday, he won a hockey game.

Watching the Danish winger finish his chances in the Vancouver Canucks’ 2-1 win against the Edmonton Oilers, you wondered how this guy has never scored more than 16 goals in a National Hockey League season. He wonders about it, too.

“You always want to score more,” he said upon reflection the next day. “The chances have always been there for me; that has never been the issue. It’s been the finishing. I tend to get a lot of breakaways. I do have the chances but haven’t been able to finish on as many as I’ve wanted in the past. I don’t know if you can be greedy and say you want to score on everything. Nobody’s going to be doing that. But obviously, pucks are going in a little more regularly this year than they have in the past.”

Hansen scored both goals against the Oilers on Saturday, quickly one-timing Henrik Sedin’s pass between the Cam Talbot’s pads to tie it in the second period, before powering a slapshot between the goalie’s arm and torso to win it in overtime.

The Canucks’ first victory in the history of three-on-three overtime came after Hansen, badly cut on the forehead when he crashed into the cross bar late in the third period, hustled the medical staff to get him stitched up for OT.

“Blood wasn’t pouring down, so it was just a couple of stitches,” he explained after his game-winner. “I was pushing them a little bit. I knew I was going to get my chance in OT.”

So, even off the ice, Hansen is faster on skates than most people.

His diverse goals gave him 12 in 37 games this season, which puts him on pace for 27 goals. But since the speedy winger was partnered with first-liners Danny and Hank Sedin in Columbus on Nov. 10, Hansen has scored nine times in 22 games. If he does that the rest of the season, he’ll hit 30 goals.

No wonder he was in a chipper mood Sunday even before he took money off Swiss teammate Luca Sbisa when Denmark beat Switzerland 2-1 Sunday at the world junior championship.

He offered action to Yannick Weber and Sven Baertschi, too, but the other Swiss Canucks turned down Hansen.

“Just one of them I roped in,” Hansen said.

A 287th over-all draft pick — and did we tell you he is from Denmark? — Hansen has paid off big-time for the Canucks. He has just never cashed in as often as he should considering the scoring chances his speed and instincts generate.

He matched his high for goals last season, Hansen’s seventh in the NHL, and his career-best for points was set in 2011-12 when he finished with 39. Not quite halfway through this season, Hansen is on pace for 49 points.

“It’s tough to put numbers on yourself because it’s a bit disappointing if you don’t make it,” Hansen said when asked about an offensive target. “And what if you make it in 60 games? Are you just going to say: ‘OK, that’s it, we’ll see what we do next year.’ For me (the objective) is the playoffs. If the team makes the playoffs, it means the team played a good regular season and guys have contributed and we’ve done a lot of things right. If the team is successful, so are the individuals.”

Hansen has spent most of his career on the third and fourth lines. But he has been a primary scorer since joining the Sedins, with whom he has played in brief spells for several years.

With seven injured players out of Saturday’s lineup, which when healthy is still the Canucks’ weakest in years as the roster trends toward younger, faster, cheaper players, Hansen has elevated his play.

Defencemen Alex Biega and Matt Bartkowski have stepped up, too. Lately, so have forwards Baertschi and Bo Horvat. Forward Adam Cracknell has exceeded expectations all season, as has rookie blueliner Ben Hutton. The Sedins have been better than anyone could have reasonably expected the 35-year-olds to be.

Just enough players are stepping up to keep the Canucks in the Pacific Division, uh, race. But with 37 points from 37 games, and the pace very likely to increase with a market correction, Vancouver will need a lot more from Hansen and others.

“When Jannik’s at his best, he’s really good,” Daniel Sedin said. “And this year, he’s been at his best for a lot of games. Maybe in the past he was up and down. I think that’s maturity and just realizing, too, that we need him to be at his best every game. He has taken on that challenge.”

And the way he’s playing, you’d actually put money on him to score.

imacintyre@postmedia.com

Who’s next? | L.A. Kings at Vancouver Canucks

THE MATCHUP

The Canucks beat the Edmonton Oilers 2-1 Saturday in overtime and have collected seven out of eight points for their best four-game stretch since Nov. 2. The division-leading Kings blew a two-goal, third-period before beating the Arizona Coyotes 4-3 Saturday in OT, but lost leading scorer Jeff Carter to injury and key defenceman Jake Muzzin to a match penalty. The L.A. Times reported, however, that the NHL will rescind the one-game suspension automatically tied to Muzzin’s penalty for injuring Boyd Gordon.

MARKY MARK

With starting goalie Ryan Miller more seriously hurt than the Canucks announced nine days ago, backup Jacob Markstrom gets his third straight start. He won his last two games, posting a .967 save rate and 0.97 goals-against average. Markstrom was also brilliant in a 2-1 OT loss to the Kings on Dec. 1 when he stopped 38 of 40 shots to get the Canucks a point.

OT OK FOR CHANGE

The Canucks had a breakthrough when they won for the first time Saturday in three-on-three overtime, the site of seven Vancouver losses, the last of them that 2-1 defeat in L.A. four weeks ago when Alex Edler’s ghastly turnover led to Anze Kopitar’s game-winner. “More mentally than anything,” Canuck Daniel Sedin said about breaking the OT jinx. “Now we know we can win.”

INJURIES

Canucks C Brandon Sutter (hernia), D Luca Sbisa (hand), D Dan Hamhuis (facial fractures) and G Ryan Miller (lower body) are out. D Chris Tanev (lower body) is not expected to play, but LWs Alex Burrows (neck) and Chris Higgins (back) should return to the lineup. The Kings are missing C Jeff Carter (upper body), LW Kyle Clifford (head) and D Matt Greene (shoulder).

QUOTEBOOK

“They know how to play the right way. That’s what makes them so good. They don’t care if they win 1-0 or 3-2. All they care about is winning games.”

— Canuck Daniel Sedin on the formidable Kings, Stanley Cup champions in 2012 and 2014.

 
 
 
Font:
 
 
 
 
Vancouver Canucks forward Jannik Hansen celebrates the first of his two goals, including the game winner in overtime, in a 3-2 win over the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday at Rogers Arena.
 

Vancouver Canucks forward Jannik Hansen celebrates the first of his two goals, including the game winner in overtime, in a 3-2 win over the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday at Rogers Arena.

Photograph by: Gerry Kahrmann, PNG

 
Vancouver Canucks forward Jannik Hansen celebrates the first of his two goals, including the game winner in overtime, in a 3-2 win over the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday at Rogers Arena.
Vancouver Canucks #36 Jannik Hansen ( L ) celebrates his goal on the Edmonton Oilers goalie Cam Talbot with teammates #23 Alexander Edler ( C ) and #33 Henrik Sedin ( R ) in the first period of a regular season NHL hockey game at Rogers arena, Vancouver December 26 2015.
Vancouver Canucks #36 Jannik Hansen moves the puck with his skate while pressured by Edmonton Oilers #19 Justin Schultz in the first period of a regular season NHL hockey game at Rogers arena, Vancouver December 26 2015.
Vancouver Canucks #41 Ronalds Kenins and #36 Jannik Hansen tangle with Edmonton Oilers#25 Darrell Nurse and #19 Justin Schultz in the second period of a regular season NHL hockey game at Rogers arena, Vancouver December 26 2015.
Vancouver Canucks #36 Jannik Hansen and Edmonton Oilers #25 Darrell Nurse chase the puck in the first period of a regular season NHL hockey game at Rogers arena, Vancouver December 26 2015.
 
 
 
 
 
 
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