In the early days of the regular season, something unexpected has happened with the Vancouver Canucks. No, it is not their solid and surprising record. It’s the fact that Radim Vrbata does not have a single point in 2015-16 yet.
The last two years have seen 50-plus point campaigns from the right wing, and he was even close to a 35-35 season last year as well. However, the first six games have seen a bit of a reversal of fortune that has not been from a lack of trying. Here is his line so far.
- 6 games — 0-0-0 – minus 3 – 25 SOG
According to Hockey Reference, Vrbata is generating upticks across the board, but that his shots are indicating he is pressing at least a bit.
Consider that he was averaging around six shot attempts the last two seasons and this year that number has jumped to 8.5 per game. In his time with Vancouver we noticed a drop in high-danger scoring chances from his last year in Phoenix. The 2014-15 campaign saw a 0.6 high danger scoring chances per game and early this year it is 0.67 which is not much of a difference. However that is a good bit lower than the 1.08 per contest in 2013-14.
He is a sniper that generates a bit more in the low to medium chance department. One would expect slightly higher numbers. This data comes from War On Ice.
Traditionally, the right winger’s line gets out chanced in the high danger area as far as scoring opportunities. The numbers were not dramatically high but this year the small size is about one chance more than generated contest.
Another turning part is offensive and defensive zone starts.
- Offense zone — 42.9 Defensive zone — 57.1%
These are career low percentages by almost 7%. Some of the trends may have a little bit of substance. The goals will come, but look at the fact that Vrbata is still around 16:30 to 17:00. Line play is hurting as Alex Burrows and Brandon Sutter are not exactly working out for the right winger. Even on the power play, Vrbata is back with the Sedins and is getting some chances (three of his four HD opportunities came on the man advantage) but nothing is going in.
When Does The Dam Break?
Maybe it should have happened already? Sometime in the next week or two perhaps, Vrbata is going to score a goal. That seems to be the feeling around Vancouver. The only concern going forward may be shot selection where you see him shooting from areas he normally would not just in the hope for random rebounds. Remember the forward does not have a point either. He is looking for anything.
Once the dam does break, will Vrbata break the 20-goal plateau? It all depends on if he sees time once more with the Sedins. It is not his fault, but that is just how it is. The shot selection issue is significant but every underlying factor pretty much indicates that things will be okay for the 34-year-old forward.
Projections could still range in the 20-25 goal, 24-28 assist range. That would be around 50 points once more despite some concerns. It appears last year was a bit of a high water mark for the right winger. A dip is likely but is it a 20% dip, 30%, 40%? That is unknown right now. What is known is that Vrbata likely does not see 63 points in 2015-16.