A glance through the list of the six Vancouver Canucks with 10 or more goals this season reveals the expected names.
Daniel Sedin leads Vancouver with 17 goals. Twin brother Henrik has 10, as does centre Ryan Kesler. Alex Burrows has 14 goals while Chris Higgins has contributed 10 to the NHL’s highest scoring team.
The surprise name is right winger Jannik Hansen, who has 12 goals in 40 games. The 25-year-old from Denmark has never scored more than nine goals in a season in his previous four with the Canucks.
“I haven’t been in this position before, so it’s nice,” Hansen said at Rogers Arena Tuesday. “We are half way done the season and there’s a long ways to go.’’ Hansen’s first-period goal in Vancouver’s 3-2 shootout loss to the San Jose Sharks Monday night was an example of how the season has gone for him. He sent a pass across the front of the San Jose net but the puck deflected into the goal off the stick of Sharks forward Jamie McGinn.
“I have a little more puck luck this year,” the soft-spoken Dane said. “Maybe a puck that shouldn’t go in finds a way in off a stick or off a glove.’’ Hansen spent some time on the Canucks’ top line with the Sedin twins this season when Burrows was hurt. He also played on the second unit with Kesler while Mason Raymond was recovering from the back injury suffered in the Stanley Cup final last year.
“I’ve had a lot more opportunity to play in the top six,” said the 6-foot-1, 192-pound native of Herlev, a suburb of Copenhagen. “It bodes well for your production when you get a chance to play with Hank and Danny and Kes. You get put in a situation to produce.’’ Hansen is now playing an average of almost 15 minutes a game on Vancouver’s third line and has developed a chemistry with centre Cody Hodgson.
“Once you get a little more confidence, you try to put a few more pucks on the net,” Hansen said. “Before you might have tried to pass it off or find the cute play.’’ Canucks coach Alain Vigneault said Hansen has always possessed speed and the ability to win puck battles along the boards. He’s now using those talents to score goals.
“I am seeing a young man that is progressing,” Vigneault said. “As you get older and more experienced and work on your art, you get better.’’ While Hansen is happy to be scoring goals, he knows his true value to the Canucks comes from his physical game.
“Scoring is not what my game should be measured upon,” he said. “It’s energy. It’s getting in there on the fore-check. It’s killing penalties. We have a lot of guys who can put the puck in the net here. That’s not where I am resting whether or not I am successful.’’ The Canucks, who are second in the Western Conference with 51 points from a 24-13-3 record, play host to the Minnesota Wild at Rogers Arena Wednesday night. They are looking to end a skid that also included a 4-1 loss to the Los Angeles Kings on New Year’s Eve.
Vigneault also hopes Vancouver’s stumbling power play will find its legs again.
The Canucks lead the NHL with a 23.9-per-cent efficiency with the man-advantage but are 2-for-21 on the power play in their past six games.
Vancouver was 1-6 against San Jose and failed to score with a two-man advantage for 1 minute 9 seconds.
“Obviously it’s not clicking the way it can click,” Vigneault said. “We know power plays are going to go up and down. We are in a little phase right now where it’s a little more challenging. We’ve got too much good personnel here for our power play not to find it’s groove again.’’ After playing the Wild, Vancouver sets out on a four-game trip that begins Saturday in Boston. It will be the Canucks’ only meeting this season with the Bruins, who defeated them in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup final last spring.
Special to The Globe and Mail