Weekly Canucks Report: Week of November 14-20
Who Had a Good Week:
Baertschi-Bo-Burrows- Bo Horvat is individually the strongest member of this line, and continues to be the team’s best player, but his new linemates have definitely boosted his play. The new “Killer B’s” line found instant chemistry, and it has Alex Burrows playing like his old self.
Brandon Sutter- Sutter is now on pace for about 50 points, and his clutch scoring made him the undisputed hero of the week. Sutter doesn’t just fit in with the Sedins, he continually manages to elevate their play. He’s still probably more valuable as a center, but it’s hard to take him off the wing when it is working so well.
Loui Eriksson- After a noticeable uptick in play and a subsequent rise in production, Eriksson’s numbers on the season are starting to look more respectable. If Loui’s hot streak can continue, the pressure will start to ease off on him and he can focus on getting back to his game.
Troy Stecher- Stecher continues to make for difficult roster decisions. Every time he plays, it gets harder and harder to take him out of the lineup. Stecher’s smooth moves at the point are already the best on the team, and he looks ready to hold down a top-four role.
Daniel Sedin- It’s rare that Daniel gets a chance to get discussed apart from his brother, so let’s use the opportunity his eight-game point strike provides. Both Sedins have been playing well, but Daniel has been the better of the two, and the results show it. Daniel is playing like he really wants to hit 1000 this season.
Who Had a Rough Week:
Luca Sbisa- Fans were right to be optimistic about Sbisa after his strong start, but the old Sbisa is back. Things are now in a holding pattern until Sbisa plays the minimum number of games to be exposed in the expansion draft, and then he has likely lost his spot in the lineup to Tryamkin and Stecher.
Jack Skille- Derek Dorsett’s injury is a welcome opportunity for Skille to show his stuff, but so far, Skille has been relatively invisible as a Canuck. He doesn’t really look like he adds much at the NHL level, and the Canucks have plenty of interesting call-up options to try out.
Alex Edler- When your fresh-from-college rookie partner is the stable one on your defense pairing, it’s not a good sign. Edler has been shaky after a solid start, and his decision making skills have been particularly terrible of late. He looked awful against Chicago and helped the tying goal happen with an ill-timed hit.
Erik Gudbranson- The pairing of Ben Hutton and Gudbranson has been frequently victimized lately, but Hutton turned it on this week, which makes Gudbranson look worse by comparison. Gudbranson probably needs to find a new partner ASAP, because he hasn’t done great things for Hutton’s effectiveness.
With Jake Virtanen now serving a stint with the Utica Comets, it would be nice if Michael Chaput could be sent down so Virtanen has a talented center to work with. Perhaps the much talked about waiver acquisition is finally going to occur. As of the writing of this, Matt Puempel is sitting on the waiver wire.
As the season progresses, the prospects of an Alex Edler trade are on the rise. Edler appears to be holding back rookie Troy Stecher, rather than the other way around, and the lineup looks like it could handle the loss of Edler, especially with Juolevi incoming. Despite his struggles, Edler has the pedigree to command a healthy return.
Alex Grenier is almost certainly the next Comet to get a call-up. Grenier has 13 points in 15 games, and his fighting prowess makes him a logical Dorsett replacement.
Jared McCann, after the much-criticized trade to Florida, has three points, which is exactly as many as Erik Gudbranson. Sophomore slumps do exist, but this is a little ridiculous, especially on the talented Panthers.
Calgary and Glen Gulutzan continue to struggle mightily, to the point that Gulutzan is now considered to be on the hot seat. How unexpected would it be to see Gulutzan fired before Willie Desjardins is? As bad as the performance has been in Vancouver, it’s been much worst and much more disappointing in Calgary.
The Comets’ first game of the week was a lackluster effort against the Hershey Bears. Curtis Valk and Darren Archibald continued their hot play with a goal and assist each in a 4-2 defeat. Andrey Pedan’s poor play kept up, as he got yet another minor penalty and contributed little else. Richard Bachman lost to former Comet Joe Cannata.
Things got better on Friday night with a high-scoring 5-4 victory over the Springfield Falcons, who are tragically not called the Isotopes. Five different Comets scored, with Alex Grenier, Cole Cassels, Joe LaBate, and Valk scoring, while Archibald got another overtime winner. LaBate and Grenier also got assists, while Valk got two. Jordan Subban kept up his pace with an assist. Thatcher Demko was in net for his second win.
Saturday brought about significantly more subdued hockey, but the Comets prevailed once again with a 2-1 win over the Rochester Americans, who must be regretting their nickname these days. Jake Virtanen got his first point with the Comets by assisting on a Valk goal, which was also assisted by the red-hot Archibald. Cassels scored in his second consecutive game after going scoreless to start the year, with LaBate getting the lone assist. LaBate has six points in 12 games, and could get a call-up soon if Dorsett is out long-term, although Grenier probably gets it first. Bachman picked up the win, but Demko finished the game after Bachman suffered an injury.
Bits and Bobs:
-It must be nice for Michael Garteig to earn an NHL pay cheque for awhile. Garteig has taken duty in Alaska with grace and has quietly been putting up an excellent pro debut, with six wins in seven starts.
-Curtis Valk is finally making a name for himself at the AHL level. He has 12 points in 14 games with the Comets, and has ably filled the void left by Michael Chaput’s call-up.
-Brock Boeser has gone a bit cold after a nearly two-points-per-game start. He currently sits at a more than respectable 16 points in 13 games, but is being outscored by Adam Gaudette.
-If you’re looking to prognosticate when Jake Virtanen might return to the big club, December 3rd is not a bad guess. Why not give Virtanen a shot to prove himself in what is sure to be a physical game?
-Richard Bachman’s injury is unfortunate for him, but fortunate for Canuck fans that wanted to see Demko get more time in net.