The Vancouver Canucks are on a roll. After losing their first two games of the season on the road to the Edmonton Oilers and the Calgary Flames, the Canucks came home and beat the Los Angeles Kings, Philadelphia Flyers, and Detroit Red Wings. And, except for taking the Flyers to a shootout, they won big (by a combined score of 16-5).
However, the team bumps into a stern test when they visit the St. Louis Blues on October 17. That said, the Blues are fresh from a visit to Donald Trump in the White House and who knows how long it takes to recover from that kind of experience. I’m thinking it’s a good way for any young Canadian hockey players playing with the Blues to appreciate their home country even more. They might still be stunned when they host the Canucks tonight.
Canucks head coach Travis Green had to be happy with the homestand, and he did call the Red Wings game the team’s best of the season so far. He noted, “We’ve talked about being a 60-minute team. We want to be a team that kind of plays the same way all the time. When we don’t have the puck, we want to look very similar in our work ethic, in our compete. I thought tonight was probably our best game.”
In this post, I want to take the time to review how several Canucks players are playing to this point in the season.
Player Reviews for the Season
Player Review #1: J.T. Miller Is Scoring
When J.T. Miller came to the Canucks during the offseason, he came with a task – to score. He has done just that. Miller has seven points in five games so far (three goals and four assists).
Miller scored two power-play goals against the Red Wings. As Miller told NHL.com, the Canucks’ game plan was to be more aggressive on the power play.
He noted, “We shot a couple more pucks, and I think it was just a matter of time. It’s amazing; sometimes when you simplify like that and get back to what makes some power plays good, it’s having a shooting threat. It worked out tonight and it’s good for our confidence going forward.”
Player Review #2: Thatcher Demko Stopped Pucks in His First Test
With Jacob Markstrom away on family business, it was important that Demko be strong in the nets. It didn’t necessarily start that way – Dylan Larkin scored a breakaway goal in the first minute of the game; however, Demko then settled down and stopped everything else for the night – 26 shots in total.
Demko spoke about Larkin’s early goal: “I felt good and didn’t want that one to ruin my night. It’s tough. I haven’t played in a while and gave up the first one, but if you want to play at this level, you’ve got to put that behind you. The team just did a great job. After we gave up that goal we really started rolling.”
Player Review #3: Brock Boeser Is a Point-a-Game Player
Brock Boeser didn’t start the season badly: he scored a goal and two assists for three points in his first four games. However, his multi-point evening – three assists against the Red Wings – helped move him over the point-a-game pace. He now has six points in five games. It was Boeser’s first multi-point performance of the season, and it’s also the first time he’s scored three points in a game in almost a year (December 16, 2018, was his last three-point game).
As much as the Blues are a tough team to compete against, Boeser’s had good luck there. During his last visit on December 9th of last season, he had a hat trick in a 6-1 Canucks win.
Player Review #4: Elias Pettersson Finally Breaks Out
To my view, Elias Pettersson hasn’t played like a Calder Trophy winner so far this season. However, he played much better against the Red Wings, scoring a goal and two assists. His goal highlighted his wonderful hand-eye coordination, and he was Elias-on-the-spot to cash in the rebound.
Pettersson now has two goals and five points in his last three games after being zeroed in the team’s first two. Let’s hope Pettersson’s totally back or, granted, perhaps he never left. [I’m citing a James Bond line at the end of Quantum of Solace, when M says, “Bond, I need you back.” Bond replies, “I never left.”]
Player Review #5: Alexander Edler Looks Great So Far
Alexander Edler scored a power-play goal and added two assists in the win against the Red Wings. But, honestly, I think Edler’s looked good all season. It isn’t just his scoring – although he’s been hot, with three goals and two assists in five games – it’s his all-around play. He simply looks in charge and is leading the Canucks’ rearguard.
What’s Next for the Vancouver Canucks?
The Canucks play the first game of a four-game road trip tonight in St. Louis. It’ll be a tough game that will test the new line-up. The Canucks then head east to play the struggling New Jersey Devils and the New York Rangers in back-to-back games on Saturday and Sunday. They end their trip against the Red Wings on Tuesday.
The Devils, after wholesale changes, simply haven’t pulled it together and there might be some panic ensuing. Let’s hope the Canucks can return to Vancouver sporting a 2-2 record on this trip. That would be a good road-trip record for the team.
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