Toby Ward: HanShrayRay tame the Wild

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Jannik HansenJordan SchroederMason Raymond, what a line, what speed, what pluck!

HanShrayRay (for lack of a better, more officious nickname, that’s not as sexy as West Coast Express but…) added hustle, speed, and the game winning goal.

“They played with skill, speed and grit,” said Coach Alain Vigneault during the post-game press conference in praising the plucky, emerging Hansen-Schroeder-Raymond line. “They were tough to handle.”

Not tough for Canucks fans, who loudly cheered the 1st star selection of Hansen, who led all players with 5 shots on net. Hansen now has 7 points (3 goals) in 12 games, and is tied for a team high +7, but it’s the immeasurable contributions he brings – his speed, forechecking, and bluster. If there was a Canuck who fit the Honey Badger metaphor, it’s Hansen.

Hansen’s opposite winger, Raymond chipped in with two shots, and the key play to set-up Keith Ballard who dished to Hansen for the game-winning goal (and has a surprising 8 points to start the season). And Schroeder, the speedy, diminutive center with the hustle to match Hansen, and a passing ability that could rival any player on the team, also impressed, and was key to helping Raymond dig the puck out of the corner which led to the game winner.

HanShrayRay – I think most Canuck fans would like to see a lot more of them.

Goalie

What controversy? Look up the definition of controversy in the dictionary, there’s nothing controversial about Vancouver’s goalie tandem. In fact, Roberto Luongo, the defacto back-up goalie, is second amongst NHL goalies, with a superlative save percentage of 94.3 (.943), and a goals against average (GAA) of 1.45.

Interesting to look south at Florida, Luongo’s preferred destination (his home, his wife’s home), and note that Florida gave up six goals on 29 shots last night. The Panthers had the single worst GAA in the NHL heading into the game, and have safely secured the bottom-of-the-barrel position for the foreseeable future after giving up six against the lowly Capitals.

Looks like Florida could use a superlative goalie…  and I think Jose Theodore would be a superlative back-up to Corey Schneider. Mind you, I’d rather see Luongo and Schneider remain as a tandem, and share the workload on the way to a Cup parade.

NOTES: Speaking of goalies, a very decent first NHL game for Darcy Kuemper, 28 of 30 saves, and the evening’s third star… Devon Setogouchi made a big league, power forward move and shot to score the lone Wild goal (impressive, but Minnesota could use more of that from him)… Andrew Ebbett was dancing, and dishing last night in his limited 9 minutes (he deserves more starts, because AaronVolpatti and Dale Weise have earned very little)… Manny Malhotra missed the game due to “family reasons” and Vigneault and the Canucks declined to comment on the matter, but when asked Vigneault didn’t sound particularly impressed. I have a feeling we may be witnessing the final months of Manny’s career, though he still is a valued faceoff man.


 

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Toby Ward is a season ticket holder, former reporter and producer covering the Canucks turned consultant, and blogger. A lifelong Canucks fan who bleeds blue and green, Toby first saw the Canucks when they hosted Bobby Orr and the Bruins in 1974.


 

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