Despite beefing up the offence in the offseason, goals have been hard to come by for the Vancouver Canucks
That is until last night’s game against the Dallas Stars.
After a first period which saw the Canucks fall behind 1-0 for the 11th time in 12 games, the team came out with a bang in the 2nd period.
One factor that has always been imperative for the Canucks’ success is that all 3 members of The Lotto Line need to be taking charge. That’s exactly what they did last night, as all 3 of JT Miller, Elias Pettersson, and Brock Boeser had multiple points to secure the home team a 6-3 victory.
However, a lot still needs to be improved in order to increase the team’s overall success. While the power play was finally able to bump the slump last game going 3 for 5, the penalty kill continues to be an Achilles heel for the Canucks.
With that said, let’s take a look at 1 pro and 1 con from the last couple of games, as well as a concluding thought before the Canucks’ next contest against the Anaheim Ducks on Tuesday night.
Pro: Hoglander is back!
After going scoreless in the first 10 games of the season, I was certain that a big turnaround was right around the corner for Nils Hoglander. In fact, it was the concluding thought of my last article, in which I mentioned how the thrill of playing in front of his parents would be a huge morale booster for the 20-year-old. Furthermore, Hoglander had been getting his chances in the last few weeks and it was seeming very likely that he would ripple the mesh very soon.
That is exactly what he did on Friday night against Nashville, as the young Swede was able to get the puck in the slot, deke around a sprawling Jusse Saros, and tuck the puck in uncontested from below the goal line. The goal gave the Canucks a 2-1 lead in a game they would eventually lose 3-2, but there is no denying the fact that Hoglander got back into his groove after notching this tally on the scoreboard.
He was noticeable in almost every shift for the rest of the game and kept creating opportunities for himself as well as his linemates by simply taking the puck to the net. Hoglander brought that same play to last night’s game against Dallas, where he caused numerous troubles for the Stars’ defense. It was in one of these shifts that the pressure applied by Hoglander and his line led to a goal from Bo Horvat, which put the Canucks up 3-1 in the 2nd period.
If Hoglander can find the same consistent offensive production that he brought to the Canucks last year, it will go a long way towards helping the Canucks put their offensive woes in the rear view mirror.
Con: What’s wrong with the penalty killing?
At this point, it’s guaranteed that the Canucks will either give up a goal or require a game-saving save from Thatcher Demko on almost every penalty kill.
Not much needs to be said about the Canucks PK other than what the stats show. Having given up goals in 9 of their last 18 penalty-killing opportunities, the Canucks currently have a mediocre PK rate of 50% in the first 6 games of this homestand. In fact, after having given up a couple of powerplay goals last night, the Canucks ended up giving up multiple powerplay goals in 4 straight games, for the first time in over 13 years.
With a penalty-kill which is currently worst in the league at 63.9%, the Canucks definitely need to figure out what’s going wrong with their shorthanded play and address it as soon as possible.
Otherwise, the ship will just continue to sink and the Canucks will have numerous problems winning games on nights they struggle to find offense. Which as a result, could just lead them to miss the playoffs for the 6th time in the last 7 years.
Concluding thought: Will the Canucks score enough against John Gibson?
While many players in the top 9 do seem to have a significant increase in confidence and morale, it is important to recognize that Canucks’ next game is against a team with a Vezina caliber goalie between the pipes.
John Gibson is an individual who has always had the Canucks number. He’s 10-2-1 against Vancouver in his career with a 1.77 GAA and a .937 SV%. Furthermore, he has a .923 SV% this season and a shutout under his belt already.
Regardless, it will be interesting to see how the newly sparked Canucks offense fares against the Anaheim Ducks on Tuesday night. It will be the team’s last game of a sub-par 7 game homestand, so it will be extremely important that the Canucks get the win before they set out on a rather difficult 3 game road trip on Wednesday.