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HSH’s Canucks Scouting Report (Pro-Con-Clusion #20): Hughes dazzles in the midst of offensive hassles

Harsunder breaks down the best and worst of the last 2 Canucks games as well as a concluding thought in his 20th feature of the Pro-Con-Clusion series

Vancouver Canucks v Tampa Bay Lightning Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Despite the fact that the Canucks failed to get the full 4 points in these last 2 games, the team’s effort and work ethic as of late is definitely something to appreciate.

Ever since the arrival of Bruce Boudreau behind the bench, The Canucks have picked up 22 points in 15 games, which puts them at a whopping 120 point pace in a full 82 game season.

The Canucks fought hard and displayed a gutsy effort in their last 2 games as well, which also happened to be against a couple of the top 15 teams in the NHL. On Tuesday against the Predators, the Canucks were able to ride off a brilliant performance from Thatcher Demko and rippled the mesh 3 times to secure a 3-1 win in the music city.

On Friday, the Canucks returned home to play their first game at Rogers Arena since December 14. A couple of factors that made the Canucks severe underdogs in this particular contest was the fact that they were set to host the red-hot Florida Panthers while playing with an extremely depleted lineup particularly in the top 6 and between the pipes.

The Canucks were playing without the services of JT Miller, Bo Horvat, Conor Garland, and most importantly, Thatcher Demko as well as Jaroslav Halak. This forced the Canucks to put Spencer Martin, a 26-year-old goaltender from the AHL, between the pipes for just his 4th start in the league and his first appearance in nearly 5 years.

Despite the odds being out of his favor, Martin stepped up to the plate and put on a stellar performance, turning aside 33 of 34 shots as the Canucks were able to secure 1 point in a 2-1 shootout loss. With the point, the Canucks still find themselves sitting at .500, and just 4 points behind the San Jose Sharks for the last wildcard spot in the west with a game also in hand.

With that, let’s take a look at 1 pro and 1 con, as well as a concluding thought before the Canucks host the St Louis Blues for what would be Bruce Boudreau’s 1000th game coached in the NHL on Sunday night.

Pro: The wonders of Quinn Hughes

Throughout the Canucks’ grueling 5-game road trip, as well as their game against the Panthers on Friday, one thing that has really stood out has been the dazzling performance of Quinn Hughes.

the 22-year-old’s skating ability is well known across the league, and Hughes has used this to get the puck up ice and generate scoring chances on numerous occasions throughout this recent stretch. On Tuesday against the Preds, Hughes had almost 27 minutes of ice time, in which he picked up an assist, 1 shot block, and finished the game with a +2 rating.

On Friday against the Panthers, Hughes played well over 28 minutes and was able to put up an assist on Vancouver’s only goal in the game, a power-play marker by Alex Chiasson. Hughes also had 2 shot blocks in the contest and was able to extend his point streak to 3 games.

The Florida native has also been playing very well in his own zone this season and has been trusted in the defensive end, including on the penalty-kill, a lot more ever since Boudreau arrived in early December.

The young defenseman now has 32 points in 39 games this year and is on pace for a career-high 67 points in the season.

Con: The lack of secondary scoring

While one of the most impressive storylines for the Canucks recently has been the strong play of the Motte-Lammiko-Highmore line, the team has failed to get any offense from players in the lower half of their lineup.

As a matter of fact, the goal by Chiasson on Friday was the first time any player not playing on the “4th line” or not named Pettersson, Horvat, Miller, or Boeser scored for the Canucks since Jason Dickinson’s goal against the Panthers on January 11, which happened to be 6 games ago.

As the Canucks continue their fight for a playoff spot in the Pacific Division, it is imperative that they start getting some offense from guys such as Podkolzin, Hoglander, Pearson, and Dickinson. The lack of secondary production has been the biggest reason why the Canucks haven’t scored more than 2 regulation goals in a game since January 1 against the Kraken.

As such, it is extremely important that guys on the lower end of the lineup start figuring things out and producing offensive results for a team that will still be without its best offensive weapons for the foreseeable future.

Concluding Thought: 3 interesting things to monitor on Sunday

First of all, perhaps the biggest storyline for the Canucks would be the fact that Bruce Boudreau would be coaching his 1000th game in the NHL on Sunday night. However, there are also a couple of other interesting things to monitor as they pertain to the game against the Blues.

For one thing, this is the first time the Canucks would be playing against St Louis ever since eliminating them in the playoff bubble in 2020.

Secondly, the Canucks enter this contest with a streak of 6 straight games against the Blues where they haven’t lost in regulation. The team would look to continue that streak and attempt to get a gutsy victory in order to cross the .500 mark for the first time since October 26.

So what do you think Canucks fans? Would the Canucks pick up the victory against the Blues on Sunday? What about Spencer Martin? Does he put up another stellar performance if he gets the start against St Louis? Let me know in the comments below!