The Vancouver Canucks at the moment are simply over one-third of the way in which by means of their common season. They’ve performed 28 of 82 regular-season video games and the staff is contending for a playoff spot.
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As we glance again on the staff’s progress by means of the season, what have been the most important surprises?
On a optimistic notice, quite a few issues come to thoughts. First, this staff has resilience. They is perhaps down, however they seldom appear to be out. They push arduous they usually don’t give up. Maybe that’s the character of their head coach Travis Inexperienced. Wherever it comes from, it’s a optimistic trait and makes them exceedingly enjoyable to look at.
A second optimistic for me has been how properly new captain Bo Horvat has taken to the job. He’s accepted the function with conviction and, on the identical time, he’s not misplaced his on-ice scoring expertise and robust play. He’s contributing in an array of particular methods to the success of this staff. I believe Horvat’s an awesome captain who’s accepted the function of management.
Vancouver Canucks ahead Bo Horvat places on the Captain jersey for the primary time (Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports activities)
However there are additionally negatives. One shock has been the dearth of effectiveness of Micheal Ferland. I do know he’s injured, and that’s been his Achilles Heel throughout his profession. Nevertheless, even when he’s been wholesome he hasn’t been in a position to crack the top-six ahead corps. When he’s prepared, he’ll undoubtedly add scoring to the underside six. Nevertheless, I’m fairly certain the plan was for him to have an even bigger function. He’s seldom performed greater than 10 minutes in current video games and has solely skated for greater than 15 minutes because the first recreation of the common season.
A second destructive has been the stunning lack of scoring for defenseman Tyler Myers. He averaged over 33 factors throughout his final two seasons with the Winnipeg Jets, however he has solely 4 assists (and no targets) in 28 video games this season. He’s not enjoying poorly, however he’s not hit the rating sheet usually. If he have been scoring extra constantly that would definitely assist.
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All this stated, listed here are my 5 largest surprises for the Canucks by means of the primary third of the common season.
Shock #1: The Persevering with Nice
Play of J.T. Miller
Final season, J.T. Miller had solely 13 targets and 34 assists for the Tampa Bay Lightning, and when the Canucks traded a first- and third-round decide for him in June there was grumbling. Nevertheless, Miller has confirmed that he’s keen to make the arduous sacrifices to win.
As Sportsnet’s Iain MacIntyre properly famous in a current article, “The 26-year-old (Miller) appears to be on the epicenter of the staff. Bo Horvat is the captain and workhorse, Elias Pettersson the most effective participant and Quinn Hughes essentially the most thrilling story. However Miller appears omnipresent, at all times concerned, at all times felt.”
Vancouver Canucks’ J.T. Miller is stopped by Edmonton Oilers goalie Mike Smith (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson)
you hear Miller interviewed after video games, you recognize he realizes he’s wanted and
appreciated in Vancouver. Coach Inexperienced agrees: “He’s performed
very well for us. He’s a vocal man, he cares, he needs to win, he competes
arduous. He’s aggressive. As coaches, you prefer to have aggressive gamers as a result of
they normally need to win actually unhealthy. We speak concerning the will to win lots. When
you’ve these traits, it may be infectious and rub off on different gamers
Shock #2: The Energy of the High
Talking of Miller’s addition to the staff, the highest line of Pettersson, Brock Boeser, and Miller has been robust. For the primary time in a very long time, Canucks’ followers are usually not considering of the Sedin twins because the final nice line for the staff. The brand new high line has taken its play to a different degree this 12 months.
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Canucks followers are now not skeptical of common supervisor Jim Benning’s offseason commerce for Miller as a result of he suits completely with Pettersson and Boeser. The Canucks’ high line is superb at each ends of the ice. They offer their opponents the fewest attractiveness of any line on the Canucks by a big margin they usually additionally lead the staff in slot passes and internal slot pictures, whereas dominating shot makes an attempt.
Shock #three: The Effectiveness of
the Energy Play
The play of the Canucks’ high line additionally transfers to the staff’s success on the facility play. Inexperienced has mixed Pettersson with Boeser and has engaged third choices. For instance, Horvat leads the staff with six power-play targets himself, with Miller, Pettersson, and Boeser every having 5. Adam Gaudette additionally has scored three power-play targets himself.
Vancouver Canucks ahead Adam Gaudette (Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports activities)
In whole, the Canucks’ power-play has already scored 29 instances in 28 video games, and that’s greater than another staff within the NHL. The Edmonton Oilers are subsequent with 26 power-play targets. For comparability, the Anaheim Geese have solely seven power-play targets all season.
The Canucks don’t change the power-play unit a lot, and why ought to they?
They’ve had nice success partaking Petterson, Boeser, Miller, and Horvat in
that function. The opposite motive for the unit’s success is that rookie defenseman Quinn
Hughes is superb – even when his NHL expertise is proscribed to one-third of a
full season. These Canucks gamers generate so many possibilities, and I see no
motive why the success of these gamers received’t proceed.
Shock #four: Elias Pettersson Is
Even Higher than Anticipated
Elias Pettersson received the Calder Trophy final season. May issues get higher than that for him? The reply is sure. Pettersson leads his staff in scoring with 11 targets, 20 assists, and 31 factors in 28 video games. He might hit 90 factors simply. He was nice as a rookie and he’s higher in his second full season.
As coach Inexperienced notes about Pettersson, “He needs to be nice, he doesn’t need to be simply good. He takes the sport severely. You will be sincere with him. If he’s had a few video games the place he’s not fairly on high of his recreation you may have a very good dialogue with him. He’s a sensible participant … and he’s dedicated to being a very good participant in all areas of the sport.” (from ‘Elias Pettersson having one other robust season for Vancouver Canucks,’ Edmonton Solar, 12/1/2019).
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Miller provides, “He simply
has that next-play skill; he already is aware of what to do with the puck earlier than it
will get to him.”
Shock #5: Quinn Hughes Is a
Talking of Quinn Hughes’ worth on the power-play unit, he appears to be like like a talented veteran. Everybody anticipated him to be good, however actually few folks anticipated him to be pretty much as good as he’s been.
Quinn Hughes, Vancouver Canucks (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)
Hughes had his sixth multi-point recreation of the season within the loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins. That recreation put him on tempo to make historical past as a rookie defenseman. Ought to he proceed this tempo, he ought to simply exceed different rookie defensemen for essentially the most multi-point video games because the 2004-05 lockout. Zach Werenski has 12 multi-point video games in 2016-17 with the Columbus Blue Jackets, Dion Phaneuf had 11 in 2005-06 with the Calgary Flames), Kevin Shattenkirk had 12 in 2010-11 with the Colorado Avalanche and St. Louis Blues, and Will Butcher had 12 video games in 2017-18 with the New Jersey Devils.
Can the Surprises Proceed?
There’s no motive why the Canucks can’t proceed to shock proper into the playoffs. Nevertheless, that can take good goalie play, which the staff has had, and never dropping gamers to accidents.
One-third of the way in which by means of the season and the staff is trying robust. That is perhaps shock quantity six.