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HSH’s Canucks Scouting Report (Pro-Con-Clusion #17): 4th line coming through with Pettersson struggling

Harsunder breaks down the best and worst of the last 2 Canucks games as well as a concluding thought in his 17th feature of the Pro-Con-Clusion series.

Vancouver Canucks v Seattle Kraken
Tyler Motte #64 of the Vancouver Canucks celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal against the Seattle Kraken during the third period at Climate Pledge Arena on January 01, 2022 in Seattle, Washington.
Photo by Christopher Mast/NHLI via Getty Images

With 34 games in the books this season, the Canucks have finally managed to cross the .500 threshold after getting at least a point in each of their last 2 games.

In a tight affair with the Los Angeles Kings on December 30, the Canucks managed to fight back and tie the game late, rewarding a solid performance by Jaroslav Halak. This goal, a powerplay marker by Bo Horvat, allowed the Canucks to secure one point before they fell short in the shootout.

While this loss did put an end to the Canucks’ impressive 7-game winning streak under Bruce Boudreau, the late-game push to force extra time did extend the team’s point streak to 8 games.

In their second visit to the Climate Pledge Arena on January 1st, the Canucks hoped to start 2022 on the right note by getting back to their winning ways. Fortunately, the Canucks did just that, securing a hard-fought 5-2 win over their rivals, the Seattle Kraken.

With the recap done, let’s take a look at 1 pro and 1 con, as well as a concluding thought before the Canucks return to the ice to play their next game (whenever that is).

Vancouver Canucks v Seattle Kraken
Matthew Highmore #15 of the Vancouver Canucks celebrates a goal by Tyler Motte #64 during the third period against the Seattle Kraken at Climate Pledge Arena on January 01, 2022 in Seattle, Washington.
Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images

Pro: The 4th line shows some great perseverance

Ever since the Bruce Boudreau era began last month, perhaps the worst period the Canucks had, with the exception of the first period in the Columbus game, was the second period against the Kings on Thursday night.

The Canucks just had 3 shots on net in the whole frame, and only 1 faceoff in the offensive zone as they failed to apply any pressure up ice at all. To some extent, it was a reminder of Canucks hockey during the start of the season.

However, one thing that really caught my attention during this particular period was the fact that the only line that was able to get down low and control the puck in the offensive zone was the 4th line. The bottom 6 got a decent boost against the Kings as Matthew Highmore returned to the lineup for the first time in over 2 months. The 25-year-old slotted in place of Justin Dowling, who was placed in Covid protocol earlier, on the wing beside Juho Lammikko and Tyler Motte.

Throughout the 2nd and 3rd periods against the Kings, the 4th line did a good job on the forecheck and were able to create good offensive pressure by working the cycle game and causing problems in front of the net.

The hard work and persistence of this line was nearly rewarded when Highmore had a rebound pop out to him in the 2nd period with half of the net open. Unfortunately, Christian Wolanin of the Kings was able to get his stick in the lane and thwart Highmore’s opportunity, causing the 4th line to come away with nothing after a hard-fought effort.

On Saturday night against the Kraken, the 4th line continued to display its hard-work ethic from the previous game, creating opportunities off the forecheck.

In the 3rd period, Lammikko created problems for the Kraken defence on the forecheck, which allowed Tyler Motte to skate into the slot undetected. After the pressure by Lammikko, the puck was freed up for Highmore who wasted no time finding the open Motte in the slot. Upon receiving the pass, the 26-year-old wasted no time snapping a shot under the glove of Philipp Grubauer and extending the Canucks lead.

Motte’s goal ended up being the game-winner, as the Canucks were able to get offense from 5 different players en route to a 5-2 victory over the Kraken. The Canucks would love to see their 4th line continue this production and provide secondary offense for a team determined to be playing in the playoffs in May.

NHL: DEC 30 Canucks at Kings
Vancouver Canucks Center Elias Pettersson (40) and Los Angeles Kings Left Wing Alex Iafallo (19) collide along the boards as Los Angeles Kings Defenceman Drew Doughty (8) moves in during a Los Angeles Kings game against the Vancouver Canucks on December 30, 2021, at the Arena in Los Angeles, CA.
Photo by Rob Curtis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Con: Pettersson still trying to figure things out

One of the biggest causes for concern for the Canucks all season long has been the lack of consistent production from their star center, Elias Pettersson.

Ever since Bruce Boudreau took over the team’s bench on December 5th, Pettersson has shown a few flashes of his former self here and there. However, his performance over the last 2 games definitely leaves a lot more to be desired.

While the Swedish native did have a secondary assist against the Kings on Thursday, he just hasn’t been too dangerous in the offensive zone as of late, only having a combined total of 3 shots on goal over these last 2 games.

With the team consistently winning, the pressure isn’t too high on Pettersson as things stand right now. Regardless, the Canucks would surely welcome some more offensive production from the 23-year-old, as the team continues its quest of making the postseason for just the 3rd time since 2013.

Los Angeles Kings v Vancouver Canucks
Head coach Bruce Boudreau of the Vancouver Canucks and a group of players walk to the Canucks dressing room before their NHL game against the Los Angeles Kings at Rogers Arena December 6, 2021 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images

Concluding thought: Will the team extend its point streak to double digits?

Not surely knowing who or when the Canucks would play their next game, the only concluding thought we can wrap up with today is regarding the Canucks point streak under Boudreau.

With the win against the Kraken on Saturday night, Boudreau was able to work his way up to 575 wins as an NHL coach while the Canucks extended their point streak to 9 games. The team hasn’t lost a single game in regulation ever since Boudreau took over and they would look to continue this trend for as long as they possibly can.

What do you think Canucks fans? Will the team extend its point streak to 10 games and beyond? How soon do you think Bruce Boudreau gets to 600 victories as an NHL coach? Let me know in the comments down below!