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Vancouver Canucks 2018-19 Season Review: Jake Virtanen

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A look back at the season where Shotgun Jake became a thing.

Calgary Flames v Vancouver Canucks Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images

It all started with a simple tweet.

It became a movement that was one of the few things able to bring this fractured fan base together. The hashtag is littered with thousands of videos of fans downing beers (and other beverages) for every Virtanen goal this past season. Along with the play of Elias Pettersson, it was one of the few things that brought joy to our bitter black hearts.

The funny thing is, like a lot of assets with the Canucks, we often find ourselves not really sure what we have in Jake Virtanen. And while there’s no denying that last year was a definite step in the right direction, Jake will need to continue to step his game up in a more consistent manner. That means utilizing his size and speed and playing more like the proto-typical power forward he’s built like, which when he was able to, showed flashes of the player the Canucks thought he could be.

A lot of this could depend on who we see Virtanen lined up with this season, and with the number of changes the Canucks have made, it could see them start to craft a team that’s a little more speed and offence minded (you know, like the way the game seems to be changing). Better late than never, right?

The pressure of being a hometown kid is massive, especially in this market. And the expectations for this team to finally drag itself out of the basement after a pretty dramatic and pronounced fall from grace following the the loss to the Bruins in 2011 are starting to grow thanks to guys like Elias Pettersson and Quinn Hughes. They’ll need guys like Jake to show they were a decent pick at 6th overall in 2014 if they’re going to legitimately challenge for a playoff position in an increasingly more competitive Western Conference this season.

Virtanen missed 12 games this past season, so it’s fair to say he might have actually hit 20 goals had he been able to stay healthy, or at least come pretty close to that total. Here’s some of the beauties that inspired a fan base to drink recklessly on work nights:

See a common theme here? A lot of goals off the rush, as Jake was one of the few true threats the Canucks had in their transitional game last year. While he did show some real chemistry with Antoine Roussel, it will be interesting to see where Travis Green slots Jake this season. Overall, a decent year that was slightly derailed after that cheapshot by Ryan Getzlaf, and a sign that as he matures, Virtanen could grow into a big part of any success this team has. Either way, make sure your beer fridge is stocked for the games this year.