Eighteen games into the 2021-22 NHL season, the Canucks find themselves sitting at a mediocre .389 winning percentage with just 14 points in the year.
While a hard-fought win against the Jets last night was a step in the right direction, the team still has an extremely steep uphill climb in order to have a shot at making the playoffs.
Coming into the first game of this 2 game set, the Canucks returned from a 3 game road trip and hosted the Colorado Avalanche in hopes of snapping a 4 game losing streak on Wednesday night. Despite the fact that the Canucks controlled the play for more than half the game, they simply couldn't get the job done as the Avalanche walked away with the 2 points after securing a 4-2 win.
However, last night the Canucks were finally able to snap their losing skid, which was now up to 5 games, by beating the Jets 3-2 in a very close and hard-fought tilt. Both games featured numerous pros as well as numerous cons for this team, but ultimately there was 1 positive aspect and negative aspect regarding the Canucks that really stood out in these last couple of games.
As such, let’s take a look at 1 pro and 1 con, as well as 1 concluding thought before the Canucks return to the ice to take on the red-hot Chicago Blackhawks on Sunday.
Pro: Kyle Burroughs has no plans on leaving the big club
Signed from the Colorado Avalanche largely as a depth defenseman, Kyle Burroughs has been a pleasant surprise for the Canucks through training camp, the preseason, as well as the duration of the regular season so far.
Having played in 14 games so far this year, the North Vancouver product has been a solid and steady presence for the team while primarily patrolling the blueline in a 3rd pairing role. While Burrough’s analytical play hasn’t been the greatest, as he currently has a Corsi percentage of 45%, he has been strong in his puck battles.
Travis Green has clearly been impressed with his play. After Friday night’s game, he told the media that his staff showed the rest of the team clips of Burroughs winning puck battles.
Not bad for a guy that no one had penciled in their NHL lineup to start the season. What that says about the Canucks defence is a different story...
Playing under 14 minutes against the Jets and just over 11 minutes against the Avalanche, Burroughs was a +1 in both games, being credited with 5 hits and 1 shot block.
That said, there is no doubt that the biggest highlight of his life came last night when he rippled the mesh for the very first time in the National Hockey League. Early on in the 2nd period, Burroughs threw a soft wrister towards the net with traffic out in front. The shot deflected off of former Canuck Nate Schmidt’s leg and got past Eric Comrie to give the Canucks a 2-0 lead.
There is no denying the fact that Burroughs has been one of the very few positives for the Canucks so far in this young season. The 26-year-old will definitely look to make a bigger impact for his hometown team as the season progresses and he has certainly done a good job getting noticed so far.
Con: Pettersson and Boeser still have only 1 goal at 5-on-5
If such a prediction was made in the offseason, absolutely no one would have believed it or given it any thought. However, as things stand, we’re almost a quarter of a way through this season, and Elias Pettersson, as well as Brock Boeser, have only scored a single goal at 5-on-5 this season. A tally that came from Boeser in a 3-2 loss to the Nashville Predators about a couple of weeks ago.
In my previous article, I predicted that it is sure seeming like Boeser will have a big game very soon. The Canucks leading goal scorer from last year has been sniffing right around the net for the past few games, and there is certainly the feeling that he would ripple the mesh soon enough.
On the other hand, Pettersson still seems to be dealing with a significant lack of confidence as he continues to make complicated plays which only put him in tough situations.
For instance, in the game against the Avalanche, Pettersson got the puck on the far point and tried to make a risky maneuver around Mikko Rantanen rather than making the simple pass down the boards. This move caused Pettersson to bring the puck outside the zone and led to the play being offside, which ultimately killed all the pressure the Canucks were applying on the man advantage.
In order to come back to his old form that we’ve all become so accustomed to seeing, Pettersson would need to start resorting to making the simple and smart plays that he used to ever so often do before. Once he starts getting this done again, the results would start coming as well, which is something this Canucks team desperately needs in order to climb the standings in the Pacific Division.
Concluding thought: Is Podkolzin on the verge of scoring a big goal?
Over the last few games, another player that has really stood out from the Canucks lineup has been the rookie, Vasily Podkolzin.
The 20-year-old has been making quite the impact when he’s been on the ice, whether it be through the forecheck or simply through creating scoring opportunities for himself as well as his linemates. For example, in the 3rd period in last night’s game, Podkolzin made a nifty backhand pass into the slot to Conor Garland, who ended up getting a great scoring chance off the rush.
In addition to that, Podkolzin himself got a great chance while charging for the net as he attempted to backhand a Conor Garland feed towards the net.
Whether it be the result of an assist or scoring the goal himself, it is seeming very likely that Podkolzin will directly be involved in a significant goal for the team soon enough. Travis Green has been trusting Podkolzin a lot more recently as opposed to earlier on in the season, which has resulted in Podkolzin occasionally being on the ice in crucial situations as well, which is the perfect setting for scoring or setting up a big-time goal.
So what do you think Canucks fans? Do you think Pettersson and/or Boeser would score a 5-on-5 goal in the Canucks next game? Do you think Podkolzin will be involved in a significant goal in the next few games? What have you thought about Kyle Burroughs so far this season? Feel free to let me know in the comments down below!