Who Had a Good Week:
Granlund, Sutter, Hansen- Before the season, Canucks fans were just hoping that this line could find a bit of chemistry and form a competent third line. Since being put together, they’ve performed like a solid second line and constantly generate offensive chances.
Philip Larsen- It was nice to see Larsen rewarded with a couple of powerplay points, as he has continually looked good in that role. Larsen gets pucks to the net and is a master of movement along the blueline.
Bo Horvat- No matter who he plays with, Horvat seems to produce. One of the most dangerous Canucks on the ice game in and game out.
Alex Edler- Edler seems more engaged in the play than he has been in recent years. He’s returned a physical element to his game that has been missing.
Sven Baertschi- Baertschi showed this week that you don’t have to put up big numbers to have a good week. Baertschi was held scoreless, but had an offensive impact almost every time he was on the ice. Looking like a permanent top-6 solution.
Jack Skille- One of the few Canucks to give any sort of physical response against Anaheim. Plays like a prototypical fourth liner.
Who Had a Rough Week:
Alex Burrows- Even before getting hurt, Burrows seemed like a player on his way out of the lineup. He just hasn’t been able to contribute much on the ice, and has taken a few bad penalties to boot.
Ryan Miller- Miller got hurt, became the subject of trade rumours, and put in a less-than-inspiring performance against Anaheim upon his return. Not the best week of his career, to be sure.
Nikita Tryamkin- Few expected Tryamkin to be sitting at zero games played this far into the season. His size could have been useful against LA or Anaheim. He’ll get a chance soon.
Jake Virtanen- Virtanen has been an absolute non-factor while playing. There is now little doubt that he’ll be headed to Utica upon Anton Rodin’s return.
Loui Eriksson- Eriksson hasn’t looked bad, but the Canucks expect more from him. He briefly lost his spot on the Sedins’ line, but picked up two assists shortly after returning to their wing, so hopefully things are looking up.
Jake Virtanen’s time with the big club may be coming to an end, but Dorsett’s injury buys him more time. He’ll be a welcome addition to Utica’s top line if he heads down. On defense, Biega sitting is expected, but one would hope that Tryamkin is going to get some more icetime soon.
On the trade front, LA’s goaltending woes have created a buzz around the prospect of trading Ryan Miller there. Miller seems like an ideal target to fill in for the injured Jonathan Quick, as he’s a proven starter whose contract will expire this year. The fact that Miller’s wife is a Hollywood actor doesn’t hurt the chances of this happening, either.
Derek Dorsett’s injury opened up the discussion of who should be the first forward callup. Mike Zalewski is the most versatile option, but Borna Rendulic and Joe LaBate were the most impressive during the preseason.
A couple of interesting options hit the waiver wire on Sunday that could also serve as fill-ins. Ottawa waived Phil Varone, who has a smattering of NHL experience with Buffalo and Ottawa. Much more intriguing, however, was Ben Smith, waived by Colorado, who is a veteran of a few full NHL seasons with Chicago and still only 28. Smith, a right wing, was near a 20-goal pace just three seasons ago, and didn’t look half-bad for the Leafs last year.
The Comets picked up their first win of the season on Friday against Syracuse, 5-4.Michael Carcone picked up his first professional goal, and Curtis Valk scored his second of the season. Michael Chaput continued his hot play with two points, and Alex Grenier and Jayson Megna also notched a goal and an assist each. Richard Bachman was in net, and gave up four goals on only 23 shots.
Utica followed up with a loss the next night against Rochester, 3-2. Chaput and Derek Hulak scored, and Marco Roy and Mike Zalewski both got their first points of the season. Thatcher Demko remains winless. Joe LaBate picked up 14 penalty minutes including an ejection for a hit to the head.
Perhaps most notable about the second game were the scratches, which included Carcone, Valk, Cole Cassels, Ashton Sautner, and Jordan Subban.
Bits and Bobs:
-Brendan Gaunce seems to be adapting well to being placed at center, despite most of his pro experience coming on the wing.
-It definitely would have been nice to see more of a response against Alex Steen’s actions during Tuesday’s game. Not only did he crosscheck Horvat in the ribs, he also ran Markstrom. At least put a glove in his face!
-All around, the Canucks seem to be making a lot more hits of consequence. Their hits seem to be harder in general and disrupt the play more than in recent seasons. Two notable players leading the charge on this are Alex Edler and Derek Dorsett.
-Despite all that hard-hitting action, the Canucks had zero fights through the first four games of the season. Derek Dorsett broke the streak against Kyle Clifford in a lengthy but boring tussle.
-LA’s goaltending woes are reminiscent of the season that saw them dress seven goalies, including Dan Cloutier.
-Speaking of Clouts, one has to wonder if he would have suited up instead of Matt Hewitt had he been in town.
-With the Oilers playing in yet another outdoor game, it would be nice to see the Canucks eventually get another crack at it. Our one pond hockey matchup so far will be forever overshadowed by the Luongo-Tortorella drama that erupted from it.
-Where exactly is Ben Hutton’s ceiling? The last prospect we saw climb the depth chart this quickly and this unexpectedly was Chris Tanev, and Hutton is arguably doing so even faster.
-Brock Boeser picked up a hat trick in one game and two goals in another to bring his total to six goals and 12 points in just five games. He seems to be cruising to the Hobey Baker Award.
-7th rounder Brett McKenzie is also on fire, with 13 points in 10 games for North Bay.
-For those wondering why Alex Biega played forward instead of Nikita Tryamkin, remember that Biega needs 19 games played this year to fulfill requirements as an exposed defenseman in the Expansion Draft. This was an easy opportunity to get Biega a game.
-Tryamkin may get an opportunity if Chris Tanev sits after being shaken up multiple times during the game against Anaheim.