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HSH’s Canucks Scouting Report (Pro-Con-Clusion #36): Can Canucks achieve the impossible?

Harsunder breaks down the best and worst of the last 2 Canucks games as well as a concluding thought in his 36th feature of the Pro-Con-Clusion series

NHL: Vancouver Canucks at Arizona Coyotes
Vancouver Canucks celebrate the goal scored by defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson (23) against the Arizona Coyotes during the third period at Gila River Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

With just 10 games remaining in the regular season, the Canucks are set to enter a stretch where they are required to win at least 8 of these games in order to have a realistic shot at the playoffs.

While the chances of that happening seemed next to impossible about a week ago, there is a minuscule amount of optimism now with the Canucks starting to play with confidence again.

After going through a stretch that saw the Canucks score 2 goals or fewer in 6 of their last 9 games, the team’s offensive troubles seem to be dissipating after rippling the mesh a combined total of 10 times on back-to-back nights, which included back-to-back 5-1 wins against the Vegas Golden Knights and the Arizona Coyotes, all without the services of Quinn Hughes and Brock Boeser.

As the team returns home and hopes to continue adding points in this last-ditch playoff push when they play the San Jose Sharks on Saturday night, let’s take a look at 1 pro and 1 con, as well as a concluding thought before the Canucks’ next game.

Pro: Offense leading the charge

For a team that has one of the worst defensive cores in the league and often finds itself relying on Thatcher Demko, the fact that the Canucks were able to generate substantial offense on this road trip was a welcome sight.

With 10 goals in the last 2 games, the Canucks were able to score as many goals as they had scored in their 4 games previous.

More importantly, it was a couple of the team’s primary offensive weapons that led the charge, with each of Elias Pettersson and Bo Horvat scoring a combined total of 6 goals between these two nights.

Furthermore, the Canucks also received decent secondary scoring, with Alex Chiasson having a 2 goal outing on Thursday, Tanner Pearson ending his 9-game goalless drought with his 14th of the season on Wednesday, and Brad Richardson scoring his first goal for the team since December of 2014.

In addition to that, the Canucks’ special teams were also firing on all cylinders, with the powerplay going 2 for 3 against the Golden Knights and 2 for 2 against the Coyotes, and with the penalty-killing going perfect in each of these games.

Con: The Canucks need a lot more from Jason Dickinson

When Jim Benning and his management team acquired Jason Dickinson from the Dallas Stars this past summer, they constantly insinuated that they were adding a defensively elite third-line center to the group who also had some untapped offensive potential.

However, after scoring 15 points in 51 games last year, the 26-year-old has only put up half of that amount this season, scoring 3 goals and 4 assists for 7 points in 52 games so far.

While Dickinson was acquired to be an everyday shutdown center for the team who would have been a mainstay on the 3rd line, the Ontario native is seeming to be more of a 4th line winger at this point and is not providing the Canucks with much of anything in the offensive zone.

Despite getting an added opportunity to occasionally play on the 2nd line with Brock Boeser out over these last 2 games, Dickinson failed to take advantage of his chance.

While the 26-year-old did get an assist on the Brad Richardson game-winning goal against the Golden Knights on Wednesday, Dickinson finished the road trip putting up a total of just 1 shot on goal and finished with an even plus-minus rating, despite the fact that the Canucks outscored their opponents 10-2.

There is no doubt that with Brock Boeser still out and with the team desperately chasing a playoff berth, the Canucks would need some players in the lower end of their lineup to step up as well, and while some other players are making good use of this opportunity, Dickinson simply is not.

Concluding thought: Will the Canucks generate good offense against the Sharks?

With the team’s offense over the last 2 games being a real positive sign, perhaps even a bigger break for the Canucks is the fact that they are playing the San Jose Sharks on Saturday.

With the Canucks looking to extend their winning streak to 3 games on this night, it is worth noting that the Canucks have scored a combined total of 10 goals in 2 games against the Sharks this season.

In addition to that, the Canucks have scored at least 4 goals in 6 of their last 7 games against the Sharks dating back to the 2018-2019 season.

It will be interesting to see if the Canucks can continue building on their newly sparked offensive confidence and light up the Sharks for the 3rd time this season as they look to continue climbing the standings in the Western Conference.