Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 11/13/13
As the first team to reach the National Hockey League quarter-pole, the Vancouver Canucks were rewarded with a pit stop. Coach John Tortorella gave his troops what is an NHL rarity — two straight days off on Monday and Tuesday — after a less-than-stellar tour through the meat of the Pacific Division. Having completed a rather arduous stretch that saw them play 13 of their first 20 games on the road while adjusting to a more aggressive system introduced by Tortorella, the players could undoubtedly use the rest. They may have also used some of that time off to contemplate their position in the standings. All things considered, the Canucks can’t be too disappointed about their 11-7-2 record. But in the NHL’s Wild West, that record only has the Canucks in the middle of the pack and fighting for a playoff position. They entered play Tuesday night fourth in their division and in eighth spot in the Western Conference. If they needed a reminder that those halcyon days of beating up on their old Northwest Division opponents are ancient history, the first 20 games have certainly done that. The Canucks can, at least, put away their suitcases for a while. Thursday night’s game against the San Jose Sharks at Rogers Arena begins a stretch that sees Vancouver play 11 of its next 15 games at home. But before we look ahead, let’s look back at some of the surprises, disappointments and other noteworthy developments of the first TWIN TOWERS They played together, they played apart, they played with Ryan Kesler, they killed penalties, they blocked shots. Daniel and Henri Sedin also played monster minutes. Only two NHL players — Kesler and Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby — have averaged more ice time per game than the Sedins this season. Daniel and Henrik, for the most part, seemed to thrive with the increased workload. Both had positive starts and Henrik registered a 12-game points streak. But is all the ice time catching up to them? Henrik and Daniel have failed to register a point in their last three games. BIGGEST SURPRISE This is easy. Centre Mike Santorelli signed a two-way contract with the Canucks this past summer and many in the organization thought he’d start the season in Utica. Instead, Santorelli has found himself playing on Vancouver’s second line and has given coach John Tortorella the option to use Ryan Kesler on the wing with the Sedins. Two of Santorelli’s five goals have been game-winners and he leads the team with a faceoff percentage of 56.7 per cent. HONORABLE MENTIONS Centre Brad Richardson and defenceman Ryan Stanton have also been pleasant surprises for the Canucks. Richardson, who signed with Vancouver after sitting out much of last season as a healthy scratch with the Los Angeles Kings, has stepped in and handled the third-line centre position. He has also been a key penalty-killer and leads the Canucks with two shorthanded goals. Stanton, who was plucked off waivers from the Chicago Blackhawks, has settled in nicely as Vancouver’s No. 6 defenceman. He adds some toughness to the defence and has also contributed offensively with one goal and seven points. BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT Here’s a hint: He has been playing in Utica ... Yes, David Booth continues to under-achieve with the Canucks. At least he was before he was shipped to Utica for a two-week conditioning stint with the AHL’s Comets. Booth, who was recalled by the Canucks on Tuesday, can’t seem to stay healthy and when he is fails to contribute. He has just one goal and three points in 11 games with the Canucks this season. At least he hasn’t been a defensive liability. Booth hasn’t been on the ice for a goal against this season.
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