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Was Jake Virtanen’s 2-Goal Game Enough to Keep Him with the Canucks?

Jake Virtanen has had a horrible scoring season. But his two-goal game against the Maple Leafs helped. Can he build off that success?

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Jake Virtanen had a good game on Thursday night. Let me say that again, Jake Virtanen had a good game. The two goals he score against the Toronto Maple Leafs during the team’s 3-1 victory tripled both his number of goals and his number of points for the season. He moved from one goal in 21 games to three goals in 22 games – he has no assists on the season.

Related: Virtanen Shines in 300th-Career Game as Canucks Upset Leafs

Virtanen emerged from a season-long mega-slump by scoring two goals in his team’s win over the Maple Leafs. I say “mega-slump” because – as I noted – this was only the second time all season he’s been on the score sheet.

The Canucks’ Organization Expected More from Virtanen

To say that the Canucks’ organization expected more from Virtanen is an understatement. Last season, Virtanen scored 18 goals and 18 assists, which were both career highs. This season, the organization expected the 24-year-old former high draft pick to finally live up to what they considered to be his potential. He was, after all, the sixth overall draft choice of the 2014 NHL Entry Draft.

Jake Virtanen Canucks
Jake Virtanen, Vancouver Canucks

Instead, the 2020-21 season has turned into a complete downer in terms of Virtanen’s offensive production. He’s currently averaging less than 12 minutes a game, and – as noted – his scoring is almost non-existent until last night.

Why Did the Canucks Play Virtanen?

Virtanen was fortunate even get a chance to play. It probably only happened because Elias Pettersson was unable to play because of what was described as an upper body injury. When J.T. Miller moved to center, it was probably caused less disruption in the team’s top six to insert Virtanen into the first line than mess with the other lines.

Thus, Virtanen had a rare chance to play with the top line and he made the most of it – at least on this one night. If he has any chance of staying relevant with the team, the 24-year-old Virtanen must seize this opportunity.

Jake Virtanen Vancouver Canucks
Jake Virtanen, Vancouver Canucks

When Pettersson returns to the lineup, Virtanen moves. And, given the energy and motor young rookie winger Nils Hoglander shows each game, it might be a hard slog for the once highly-touted young power forward to take Hogander’s spot..

Related: Maple Leafs Finally Lose: Canucks’ Thatcher Demko Stones Them

Is It Even Possible Virtanen Can Get Back into the Good Grace of the Team?

It will likely take something very special for the remainder of the season for Virtanen to have a chance to stick with the Canucks. Many hockey pundits seem to believe he needs a fresh start someplace else. They might be right.

Unlike Loui Eriksson, who the team’s been trying to move for at least two seasons without success, someone will jump at Virtanen in a trade. He’s just too tempting a project.

Still, if Virtanen can string together a bit of a scoring streak, that would go well for him and his team. It’s going to be a long short for the Canucks to make the playoffs; however, it isn’t impossible.

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