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HSH’s Canucks Scouting Report (Pro-Con-Clusion #15): Halak leaves more to be desired as Poolman shines

Harsunder breaks down the best and worst of the last 2 Canucks games as well as a concluding thought in his 15th feature of the Pro-Con-Clusion series.

Columbus Blue Jackets v Vancouver Canucks

A team that can’t stop winning, a city that has a ton of excitement, and a fanbase that has all the reasons for optimism. The last 2 weeks have been a roller-coaster ride for the Canucks and the entire fanbase. However, with a team that has won 7 of its last 8, including 5 in a row and counting, there is finally hope in this city regarding the Canucks for the first time since the 2020 bubble.

The Canucks extended their winning streak to 4 games on Sunday with a gutsy effort that saw them knock off one of the league’s best teams, the Carolina Hurricanes, on Sunday night. Perhaps even more relieving was the fact that Boeser and Pettersson rippled the mesh for what was only Boeser’s 2nd goal at even strength this year and Pettersson’s first.

The Canucks followed up that victory with a resilient effort on Tuesday which saw the team persevere and rally back from a 3-0 deficit against Columbus and win the game 4-3. Captain Canuck, Bo Horvat, led the charge with 2 goals including the game-winner, while Pettersson scored his 2nd goal in as many games and Vasily Podkolzin put up his 6th goal of the season.

This victory saw the Canucks increase their victory to 5 games, and it is safe to say that the last couple of games had many more positives as opposed to negatives.

However, as always, let’s take a look at 1 pro and 1 con from the last 2 Canucks games, as well as a concluding thought before the Canucks (hopefully) return to the ice to take on the San Jose Sharks over at the SAP Center on Thursday night.

Pro: Tucker Poolman putting in a strong defensive effort

Signed for 4 years at $2.5 million against the cap per season, it is imperative for Poolman to be a solid defensive presence on the backend. Not known as much of an offensive D-man by any means, helping keep the puck out of the net was what Poolman was signed to do after all.

That is exactly what Poolman put his body on the line for in these last couple of games (literally). With injuries to a couple of key defensemen in Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Travis Hamonic, Poolman was forced to play almost 24 minutes against the red-hot Carolina Hurricanes on Sunday night. However, there is no denying the fact that Poolman did everything that was asked of him.

On Sunday night, the 28-year-old blocked a total of 7 shots and had 1 hit in the 2-1 Canucks victory. He had a +1 rating in what was probably his best performance as a Canuck.

Poolman had a relatively short game on Tuesday as he was pulled out of the contest after the 1st period and placed into the league’s Covid-19 protocol. Regardless, he put up a decent performance again in just over 5 minutes of ice time.

While the Iowa native was on the ice for one of the 3 goals the upstart Blue Jackets scored in the 1st period, Poolman managed to record 2 shot blocks in this game as well. Which put him on pace for a whopping total of 8 shot blocks had he played the whole game.

Con: All wasn’t well, but the end was well

Due to the fact the Canucks stormed back to win the game against the Blue Jackets on Tuesday, this performance has really been thrown under the bus. However, it is important to acknowledge Jaroslav Halak’s subpar play in this game, especially in the 1st period, as the veteran backup gave up 3 goals on the first 12 shots.

Now obviously the fact that this was only Halak’s 2nd start in the last month played a huge factor. Regardless though, the leaky start from the Slovakian native really put the Canucks in a deep hole that they were forced to work extremely hard and crawl out of.

There were numerous instances in the remaining 2 periods where Halak looked a little shaky and had trouble controlling the rebound. Nonetheless, the 36-year-old managed to put up 11 straight saves including a game-save on Boone Jenner in the dying seconds to secure the victory for the Canucks.

However, there is no doubt that the Canucks would like for Halak to start performing well consistently so they can easily give Demko a rest where it is due. Expect Halak to be between the pipes again on Sunday, when the league’s bottom feeders, the Arizona Coyotes come into town. A game that would also feature the return of 4 former Canucks to Rogers Arena, including Jay Beagle, Antoine Roussel, Travis Boyd, and most importantly, Loui Eriksson.

Concluding thought: Would Hughes have another big night against SJ?

Quinn Hughes had quite the dominant performance on Tuesday night, putting up 3 assists in the Canucks comeback against the Blue Jackets.

Would he have a similar performance against the Sharks on Thursday? The young defenseman has 4 points in 5 career games against San Jose, including 2 goals.

So what do you think Canucks fans? Will Quinn Hughes put up another incredible performance on Thursday night? Would the Canucks extend their winning streak to 6 games? Let me know in the comments!