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HSH’s Canucks Scouting Report (Pro-Con-Clusion #11): Hughes impresses as Boeser continues to struggle

Harsunder breaks down the best and worst of the last 2 Canucks games as well as a concluding thought in his 11th feature of the Pro-Con-Clusion series.

Vancouver Canucks v Pittsburgh Penguins
Quinn Hughes #43 of the Vancouver Canucks skates against the Pittsburgh Penguins at PPG PAINTS Arena on November 24, 2021 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Photo by Joe Sargent/NHLI via Getty Images

22 games into a season that included playoff aspirations make it hard to digest the Vancouver Canucks’ performance so far.

With a record of 6-14-2, the Canucks currently only have 14 points in the year which puts them at 28th in the league’s standings.

On Friday against the Columbus Blue Jackets, it is fair to say that the Canucks controlled the play throughout most of the game. However, despite the fact the Canucks outshot the Blue Jackets 41 to 20, they just couldn’t find any threatening lanes or penetrate the slot for high-octane scoring chances. As a result, the Canucks lost the game 4-2 to a young and surprisingly upstart Columbus team.

While the Canucks were outshot 42 to 38 against the Bruins on Sunday, they did control the play for vast stretches, particularly in the 2nd period. One would argue that similar to the Columbus outing, the Canucks perhaps deserved a better fate in this game as well. However, all that matters is the fact that the Canucks lost this game 3-2, which ultimately extended their losing streak to 4 games.

With that said, 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 head to Quebec to take on the Montreal Canadiens in the second set of a back-to-back on Monday.

Pro: Quinn Hughes showing flashes of his rookie season

If there is one thing for Canucks fans to feel good about in the last few games, it has been the sound and steady play of Quinn Hughes.

In terms of skating, hockey IQ, and 2-way play, Hughes has been looking like his old self on numerous occasions. Over the last 2 games in particular, Hughes has looked really good in the offensive zone.

The 22-year-old picked up an assist in the game against Columbus and had a combined total of 9 shots in the team's last 2 outings.

Hughes has also been steady in the defensive end as of late for the Canucks. There was even an instance in the Boston game, where Hughes rushed back and was able to outwork his man for the puck, thwarting what would have been a 2-on-1 in on Jaroslav Halak.

There is no doubt that the Canucks would be relying on their young stars to elevate their game in order to have any chance of climbing out of this skid, and as of late, it is safe to say that Quinn Hughes has at least been doing his part.

Con: What’s going on with Brock Boeser?

While the Canucks have been getting good hockey out of Quinn Hughes recently, a player who has really struggled to provide the team with anything as of late is Brock Boeser.

The leading goal scorer for the team last season, Boeser just hasn’t been able to put the wrist shot he’s so renowned for, into any effective use through this last stretch.

Just like his usual linemate and good friend, Elias Pettersson, Boeser seems to be playing with a huge lack of confidence right now. Part of it obviously has to do with the team’s losing record, but another factor has also been bad luck.

Vancouver Canucks v Columbus Blue Jackets
Zach Werenski #8 of the Columbus Blue Jackets talks to Brock Boeser #6 of the Vancouver Canucks during the second period at Nationwide Arena on November 26, 2021 in Columbus, Ohio.
Photo by Ben Jackson/NHLI via Getty Images

Prior to the start of this road trip, Boeser was getting numerous chances which either hit the post or crossbar and he just couldn’t ripple the mesh despite sniffing around the net on a plethora of occasions. However, Boeser has been nowhere close to scoring in these past couple of games.

On Friday against the Blue Jackets, Boeser had at least a couple of good looks in which he wither ended up shooting wide or over the net. For a player who has been renowned for having such an accurate release, this recent stretch has been quite unprecedented for the Minnesota native.

While Boeser did pick up an assist in the Canucks’ loss against Boston, you can bet that the coaching staff would like a whole lot more from him if they expect to start winning games and somehow in some way, get back in the playoff race. Although, the chances of that happening are seeming quite unlikely at this point in time.

Concluding thought: How will Demko respond against Montreal?

You can bet that Friday’s outing against Columbus is a game Thatcher Demko would like to forget. The fact that the 25-year-old gave up 3 goals on 20 shots against the Blue Jackets in this particular affair served as arguably the main catalyst which caused the Canucks to lose the game.

Regardless, Demko would have the perfect setting to rebound and put the Columbus game behind him, as he gets set to take on a Montreal team struggling to score goals and win games.

Vancouver Canucks v Pittsburgh Penguins
Thatcher Demko had a bit of an off night against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Friday.
Photo by Joe Sargent/NHLI via Getty Images

Both teams are dealing with the same issues as of late and we know from experience that Demko tends to usually follow up a tough night with a respectable effort in the next game. Hence, we can expect quite an interesting battle between these two Canadian teams in the Bell Center on Monday.

What do you think Canucks fans? Do you think the team would work its way out of this tailspin on Monday? Will Demko have a good bounce-back game? Let me know in the comments down below!