Throughout this NHL season, the experts have taken great pleasure in predicting the downfall of the Vancouver Canucks. Despite poor attendance, and a cast of relative unknowns, the team keeps on winning. CBC Radio One's The Early Edition looks at some of the lesser known players fuelling the Canucks in their battle for the playoffs.
Radim Vrbata #17 RW
(acquired via free agency - summer 2014)
Radim Vrbata is on pace to become the first Canuck not named Sedin to score 30 goals since the 2011 season. The unassuming Czech Republic native has a nose for the net and has added much needed punch to the team's power play unit. Vrbata was the team's lone representative at this year's all-star game and leads Canucks scorers with 22 goals.
Bo Horvat #53 C
(acquired via 2013 NHL draft)
Many Canucks fans were shocked to find out number one goaltender Corey Schneider had been traded back in the summer of 2013. And for what? A lowly draft pick? That lowly draft pick has turned into Bo Horvat. The rookie has been a force on both ends of the ice, especially in recent games where he has six goals and four assists over his past 13 contests.
Ronalds Kenins #41 LW
(acquired via free agency - summer 2013 / called up from Utica January 30th, 2015)
Okay, so maybe you've heard about Radim Vrbata and Bo Horvat. But, what about Ronalds Kenins? The 23-year-old Latvian had been playing in the Canucks farm system until last month when injuries struck. Kenins was called up and contributed right away with three goals and four assists in his first 11 NHL games.That's amazing production for a player, who outside of hockey insider circles, was a complete stranger.
Willie Desjardins Coach
(hired summer 2014)
And what about that short guy with the wicked moustache who stands behind the bench chewing gum like it's going out of style? That's coach Willie Desjardins and he might just be the most interesting guy on the team. Desjardins has a master's of social work degree and brings a unique motivational style to the squad. Under the new coach, the Canucks pressure the opposition relentlessly with four lines and have demonstrated a unity of focus not present under John Tortorella last year. The players are smart to listen to Desjardins. He's a proven winner who's taken home junior hockey's Memorial Cup twice with the Medicine Hat Tigers and the American Hockey League's Calder Cup once with the Texas Stars.