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Which Canucks drought should we be most worried about?

On Friday night, Alex Burrows passed the puck back to Chris Tanev at the point. Tanev faked inside, then took a step outside and sent a wrist shot sailing towards the net.
Chris Higgins and Yannick Weber laugh it up with Kevin Bieksa

On Friday night, Alex Burrows passed the puck back to Chris Tanev at the point. Tanev faked inside, then took a step outside and sent a wrist shot sailing towards the net. With Burrows cutting in front, Frederik Andersen lost sight of the puck and it rang off the post and in.

The goal ended a couple lengthy droughts. Tanev hadn’t scored a goal in 26 games, though that’s certainly not his specialty. More of a concern, Alex Burrows hadn’t registered a point in 16 games. He celebrated the ending of his drought by adding the game-winner in the shootout.

It’s nice to see those droughts end, but the Canucks have a few other droughts to worry about. Which drought is the biggest concern?

Radim Vrbata - 5 games without a goal, 1 goal in last 10 games
Should we be worried: No.

Vrbata isn’t scoring as much as last season, which has lots of Canucks fans concerned, even those who want the team to tank the season, as fewer goals means less trade value at the deadline for the pending free agent.

While it would be great to get more consistency out of Vrbata, this isn’t all that unusual for him. He’s always been a bit of a streaky scorer and he’s still on pace for 22 goals this season. That’s a far cry from the 35 he scored last season, but it’s right in line with his usual production prior to that.

Vrbata is also leading the team in shots on goal with 138. He’s on-pace for a career-high 298 shots on goal. He’ll be fine.

Alex Burrows - 17 games without a goal
Should we be worried: Maybe.

Burrows got off to a strong start this season, scoring 3 goals and 8 points in his first 11 games. He was right behind Daniel Sedin for the team lead in points. Then November hit and he disappeared.

He had a 3-game point streak in mid-November, but had no other points until assisting on Tanev’s goal on Friday. He hasn’t scored a goal in 17 games and is on-pace for just 11 goals, his lowest total in a full season since his sophomore year back in 2006-07. Heck, he had 13 goals in just 47 games in 2012-13.

There’s reason to be concerned: Burrows has been bounced around the lineup, sometimes ending up on the 4th line. He’s also 34 and seems to have lost a step or two: his underlying possession numbers are nowhere near as strong as they used to be.

He’s on-pace for 145 shots, same as last season when he had 18 goals, but a long way from his prime years. That said, the Canucks shooting percentage with Burrows on the ice is just 4.32% at even strength. Only Chris Higgins is lower, which suggests that there’s some bad luck mixed in with his lack of points. Speaking of…

Chris Higgins - 20 games without a goal
Should we be worried: Yes.

I know I just said that his on-ice shooting percentage is the lowest on the Canucks, which is usually a sign of bad luck more than anything else, but I’m more concerned about an area where Chris Higgins has generally been strong with the Canucks: puck possession.

Higgins’ two-way game has struggled this season, which is more of a concern for me than his goal totals, though his lack of scoring has compounded the issue. His corsi% this season is better than only Derek Dorsett and Brandon Prust among Canucks forwards.

He has taken on a lot of defensive responsibility, starting a ton in the defensive zone, but has done worse defensively than in previous seasons. Besides, his usage as a defensive forward doesn’t bode well for future offensive production.

A change in usage or in luck might help him out, but Higgins no longer seems like a borderline second-line player.

Bo Horvat - 27 games without a goal
Should we be worried: Heck no.

Bo Horvat is 20-years-old, gets more defensive zone starts than any other Canucks forward, has the lowest PDO on the team at 953, and has an absurdly low 3.60 shooting percentage.

He’ll be fine.

Yannick Weber - 30 games without a goal
Should we be worried: For him? Yes.

Weber scored 11 goals in 65 games last season, leading all Canucks defencemen, and revitalized the power play towards the end of the year with his shot from the point.

In nearly half as many games this season, Weber doesn’t have a single goal despite averaging nearly 3 minutes per game on the power play, 5th on the Canucks. That’s despite 50 shots on goal, second among Canucks defencemen.

There are all sorts of explanations for why none of those shots have gone in—gripping the stick too tightly is a common one—but it’s a drought that is unlikely to continue. He gets too many great scoring chances and has a good enough shot that the goals will come.

That is, as long as he keeps getting ice time and opportunities.

Willie Desjardins was hesitant to put Weber on the first power play unit in the first place and his lack of results likely means he won’t find his way back there for a while. His role is currently being filled by Radim Vrbata at the point and the second power play unit can’t seem to get anything going.

Meanwhile, Weber has struggled with added responsibilities at even-strength with all the injuries and has been slammed for his defensive play. It’s not entirely warranted: he’s certainly better than Matt Bartkowski and he has far better underlying numbers than Alex Biega, who has received a lot of praise lately.

But a 5'11" offensive defenceman who doesn’t produce offence is usually on his way towards being a healthy scratch. He absolutely should not be a healthy scratch based on the current Canucks defence, but that's the way it may turn out, which will make it a lot harder to end his goalscoring drought.