After an “aggressive” offseason that saw many moving parts on the Canucks roster, no one could have predicted for this team to be where they are currently. With a record of 8-14-2, the Canucks find themselves sitting at just 18 points which puts them well out of the playoff race.
However, there is some hope that the Canucks are on the verge of turning things around as they return to Vancouver for a 6 game homestand riding a 2 game winning streak. Sure the wins came against similarly struggling teams in Montreal and Ottawa, a win is still a win and at this point the Canucks would take anything they can get to build some momentum.
On Monday, the Canucks won a hard-fought and close tilt against the Canadiens 2-1, which also happened to be the team’s first regulation win in the Bell Center, since January of 2007.
Following up on the game against the Habs, the Canucks took to the ice in the nation’s capital on Wednesday, defeating the Ottawa Senators 6-2.
With a brief review of these 2 contests completed, 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 return to Rogers Arena to take on Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday night.
Pro: Bubble Demko makes yet another appearance
When you have a team as weak defensively as the Vancouver Canucks are, you constantly need to rely on your goalie to give you the big wins. That is exactly what the team got from Thatcher Demko, as the 25-year-old put up incredibly solid performances in both of these last Eastern-Canadian tilts.
Against Montreal on Monday, Demko was peppered with 34 shots many of which were from high-octane scoring areas. However, the San Diego native kept his ground and did whatever he can to secure a win for the Canucks and end their 4 game losing streak.
The game certainly included some highlight moments as well, as Demko amazed all the spectators by flashing the leather on a wide-open Jonathan Drouin in the second period, followed by pad-stack larceny in the dying minutes which kept the Habs at bay.
In total, Demko managed to turn away 33 of the 34 shots he faced and in doing so, put up a .971 save percentage in this particular contest.
Following up the spectacular effort on Monday, Demko certainly had a less active game against the Senators. With the Canucks’ defense playing one of its best games of the season, Demko was only forced to deal with 21 shots on Wednesday, turning aside 19 of them and securing a 6-2 win for Vancouver.
If the Canucks have any hopes of still making the playoffs this season, they would certainly need Thatcher Demko to be at his best as the team attempts to climb the standings. Fortunately, as far as the previous couple of Canucks games are concerned, Demko has been as steady as a rock between the pipes.
Con: Höglander goes cold
While the biggest disappointment on the Canucks roster as of late has been the lack of production from Brock Boeser, another player that has been struggling as of late is Nils Höglander.
It has definitely been an interesting season for the 40th pick in 2019. He began the year going scoreless in 10 games, before embarking on a hot streak.
However, since the team returned from a terrible 3 game road trip in mid-November, Höglander has failed to score and has a goalless drought of 8 games and counting.
The 20-year-old only managed to have a combined total of two shots in the last couple of Canucks games, and he has largely been unnoticeable on the ice as of late.
In his career, Höglander has shown to be a good fit when playing alongside Bo Horvat. The captain and the youngster have certainly shown some good chemistry playing on the same line and perhaps reuniting the two is what will get Hoglander going again.
Perhaps returning home would give Hoglander a boost of morale and increase his confidence. Regardless, the Canucks would sure love for the 20-year-old to begin producing on a consistent basis again.
Concluding thought: When will Boeser arrive?
Currently sitting on a 12 game goalless drought and with only one even-strength tally this season, the heat is definitely becoming more intense on Boeser with each passing game. However, it is likely that returning home and playing a team that Boeser has had so much success against would likely help him finally ripple the mesh.
In his career, Boeser has scored 7 goals in 7 games against the Penguins with 4 of those tallies, including a hat trick, coming in Rogers Arena.
Without a doubt, the steaks are certainly high and the pressure is on for the 24-year-old. However, it will be very interesting to watch whether Boeser can show signs of confidence on Saturday against the Pens and finally ripple the mesh for the first time in almost a month.
What do you think Canucks fans? Do you think Höglander and/or Boeser will finally begin producing consistently on this homestand? Will the team extend its winning streak to 3 games on Saturday? Feel free to let me know in the comments down below!