After losing on Tuesday in Buffalo, there were serious questions about the makeup of this team. Some of those concerns have been quieted after consecutive wins against Chicago and Seattle to end the six-game road trip.
Playing in the windy city on Thursday, the Canucks were able to take advantage of a 5-on-3 in the 2nd period and expand their lead. This ultimately led the team to secure a 4-1 win over the Chicago Blackhawks.
The Canucks, then took on the Seattle Kraken at Climate Pledge Arena for the first time. Without a doubt, the atmosphere was electric and the vibes were nothing short of that in a playoff game. Despite some shaky moments, the Canucks were able to ride off an impressive performance from Thatcher Demko between the pipes, and take a 4-2 win in their very first visit to the Emerald City.
With a grueling road trip filled with numerous ups and downs finally in the books, let’s take a look at 1 pro and 1 con from the last 2 games, as well as a concluding thought before the Canucks home-opener against the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday night.
Pro: The return of Bubble Demko
It is safe to say that on the basis of work ethic and effort, the Canucks really didn’t deserve to win these last 2 games. There is no doubt that the result would have been different had it not been for the stellar play of Thatcher Demko.
The Canucks were outshot, outworked, and outmuscled in both of the aforementioned games. However, there is absolutely no denying the fact that the return of Bubble Demko was what ultimately propelled this team to consecutive wins.
In Chicago, the Canucks were peppered with 30 shots from a Blackhawks team starved and desperate for a win. However, with the exception of a powerplay snipe from Alex Debrincat, Demko managed to turn away absolutely everything that was thrown at him. With numerous scoring chances from the slot and from inside the hash marks, the Hawks just could not manage to get anything past the 25-year-old San Diego native, who made a total of 29 saves to give the Canucks a 4-1 victory in the windy city.
After putting on a show in the United Center, Demko carried his performance over to He stood tall and helped spoil Seattle’s home opener with 29 saves which propelled the Canucks to a 4-2 win. In particular, a couple of breakaway saves on Yanni Gourde and Mason Appleton were what really gave the Canucks a fighting chance and prevented Seattle from taking control of the game.
With the players finally set to return to Rogers Arena for their very own home-opener on Tuesday night, the Canucks would be wise to improve their puck possession against the Wild in order to take some pressure off of Demko.
With that, let’s go into the most apparent con from the last couple of Canucks games.
Con: Transitional play
It is important to recognize that the Canucks have ultimately had to rely on Demko to steal these last 2 games because they haven’t been managing the puck very well. Simply dumping the puck in and rushing for a change after long shifts is certainly not going to allow the Canucks to play a sound defensive and 2-way game.
Rather, the Canucks need to work on moving up ice with clean tape to tape passes from the defensemen to the forwards. Furthermore, they should have at least 1 player in on the forecheck to apply pressure and create hassles in the offensive zone while the defense changes.
This will not only allow the Canucks more opportunities to take the puck back and maintain possession, but the lack of time spent in the defensive zone would take a significant deal of pressure off of Thatcher Demko. In addition to that, it would also give the team’s offensive weapons the flexibility to save energy and apply it towards creating opportunities and scoring chances in the offensive zone.
Concluding Thought: Will home-ice help Elias Pettersson take off
It is quite obvious that one of the significant disappointments of this road trip has been the subpar play of Elias Pettersson. However, it is important to recognize that home-ice could prove to be a significant catalyst in allowing Pettersson to regain his confidence.
With contract negotiations stalling throughout the summer, Pettersson got into only 2 games during the preseason. This was probably a player who shouldn’t have missed training camp considering the fact that he missed the second-half of last season.
Here’s hoping that home ice is the tonic Pettersson needs. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the last time Pettersson actually played in front of Canucks fans was on March 10, 2020.
When you have a young player and especially one who has dealt with what Pettersson has gone through over the last few months, sometimes fan support and a little push is all it takes to boost morale and get confidence going again. It is quite likely that the return of fans to Rogers Arena would give Pettersson the boost he needs in order to get back into form and play up to his true potential.
What do you think Canucks fans, do you think Pettersson will rebound playing at home? What other pros and cons did you notice in the last couple of games? Feel free to let me know in the comments down below!