With the first two games of the 2020-2021 NHL season in the books, the Canucks find themselves in the midst of a 6 game road trip with a rather depleted roster. With Brock Boeser currently out day-to-day as well as the potential long-term absence of Brandon Sutter, Tyler Motte, and Travis Hamonic, Travis Green has been forced to inject a plethora of new faces into the lineup. However, the resilient Canucks have displayed a great amount of hard work and perseverance over these last couple of games, which has led to them getting 3 out of a possible 4 points since the season began on Wednesday.
In this article, we will look at one thing that stood out, one thing that needs to be improved, and one thing to keep in mind before the next game, as at the time of writing this article, the Canucks get set to take on the Detroit Red Wings in the motor city this afternoon.
Pro: The power-play was threatening
In the 2019-2020 NHL season, one of the biggest factors that led to the Canucks failing to meet expectations was their subpar results on the man advantage. After producing handsomely on the man advantage in the 2019-20 season, the Canucks fell from having the 9th best power-play, to the 6th worst power play in the league last year. Hence, Jim Benning and his management team spent the offseason making significant changes to the Canucks roster. As a result, he brought in Oliver Ekman -Larsson and Conor Garland from the Coyotes, as well as Alex Chiasson from the Oilers, to help get the power-play back to where it was a couple of seasons ago.
So far, the results have been nothing short of satisfying, as the Canucks find themselves sitting at 6th place in the NHL’s power-play rankings, with a PP% of 33.33 percent. The acquisition of OEL allows Travis Green the option to have a good quarterback on each unit, while also giving him the flexibility to evenly spread out the ice-time between both sets of personnel. Even though the Canucks have been without Brock Boeser’s services for over 2 weeks now, they are 3 for 9 on the man advantage through the first couple of games, with goals coming from Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Elias Pettersson, as well as Alex Chiasson. If the team can keep up this play and continue to get such results, there is nothing to suggest that they will end up missing the playoffs as they did last season.
Con: The penalty killing needs to improve
A disadvantage that caused numerous headaches in the preseason, the Canucks just can’t seem to catch a break when they’re playing shorthanded. While the absence of Travis Hamonic, Brandon Sutter, and Tyler Motte has played a big part in this for sure, the team definitely needs to shore up its penalty killing in order to continue racking up wins throughout the season.
Having given up 2 power-play goals on 5 opportunities, the Canucks currently find themselves holding a mediocre PK% with just 60 percent. In addition to that, the first goal by the Flyers last night was scored just a second after Tyler Myers’ penalty expired, at a point in which the Canucks obviously had only 4 players defending in their zone. Without a shadow of a doubt, in order to ease some pressure off of Thatcher Demko as well as the depleted blue line, the penalty-killing personnel would need to improve their shorthanded play as soon as possible. Although, it would definitely be best if they can just rather find a way to stay out of the box altogether.
Concluding thought before Games #3 and #4.
As the Canucks enter stop 3 of their 6 game road trip, it is important to recognize that special teams have been a significant part of their first couple of games. The Canucks need to continue clicking on all cylinders as far as their power-play is concerned, while also focusing on keeping things to the outside and away from the dangerous areas on the penalty kill. There is no denying the fact that it will serve as a primary catalyst for the team to rack up points throughout this road trip as well as this season as a whole.
What are your thoughts Canucks fans? What is something that stood out to you from the first 2 games of the season and what would you like to see the team improved upon. Feel free to share your ideas in the comments down below!