Weekly Canucks Report: Week of December 26, 2016- January 1, 2017
Who Had a Good Week:
Bo Horvat- At some point, I’m just going to have to make up a generic entry for Bo that I can copy and paste every week. Once again, he continues to create offensive chances from seemingly nothing, drives the play constantly, and wins nearly every puck battle.
Sven Baertschi- I don’t think Baertschi is getting enough credit for the magnificent season he has had since his cold start. More importantly, Baertschi is showing himself to be the consistent scoring threat that Canuck fans hoped he could become.
Loui Eriksson- Eriksson is another player who has come alive after a very cold start. Despite getting booted of the Sedin line in favor of Jayson Megna, Eriksson continued to produce and looked like the dynamic offensive threat that the team was hoping for when it signed him.
Alex Edler- Rather than needing time to shake off the rust, Edler stepped back into the lineup looking the best he has in awhile. Edler continues to click with Troy Stecher, and has already begun eating up an impressive amount of playing time. Once again, the physicality seen in Edler’s game is something we haven’t seen for years.
Nikita Tryamkin- This was Tryamkin’s best week in awhile. He paired well with Ben Hutton when they were played together, and seemed to use his size especially well in containing some of the towering forwards present on all three teams the Canucks played.
Jacob Markstrom- Markstrom played lights out against Edmonton, showing that his recent inactivity hasn’t left him with any rust. The only question that remains is how Markstrom will manage to get himself more starts.
Ryan Miller- The only reason Markstrom isn’t starting more regularly is this man, who is holding onto the crease with aplomb. Miller’s strong play this week is of two-fold benefit to the Canucks, as it likely increases his market value around the league.
The 4th Line- Brendan Gaunce, Michael Chaput, and Jack Skille put in several great energy shifts, and provided exactly what a team looks for in a 4th line.
Who Had a Rough Week:
Jayson Megna- Simply put, Megna just isn’t first line material. While he didn’t play awful next to the twins, he also noticeably flubbed a few chances that probably should have been goals. The Sedins deserve a better linemate than this, and several are available.
Daniel Sedin- While Henrik picked up two goals this week, Daniel didn’t notch a single point. While this may have had something to do with Megna being on their line, Daniel’s own play didn’t exactly help matters, as he looked a bit slow out there. This led to multiple penalties.
Alex Burmistrov was placed on waivers Sunday, and might be worth a look. The former 8th overall pick has been putrid with the Jets, but they also have a very deep forward corps that has limited his opportunity. There’s still a lot of skill to be had with this player.
Erik Gudbranson’s return, whenever that might be, is certainly going to complicate things. Stecher looks like a permanent addition to the roster, and Luca Sbisa and Tryamkin have both been playing strong as of late. Who comes out of the lineup?
I’m going to keep harping on Alex Grenier until he gets a shot with the team. No Utica Comet is producing as well as Grenier is this season, and he also brings size, physicality, and toughness to the lineup. All in all, he’d even be a better fit with the Sedins than Megna. Give him a chance!
The Arizona Coyotes are mired in a seven game losing streak right now. While it’s nice to see a division rival struggling mightily, it is also a double-edged sword for the Canucks. If the Canucks go into a slide in 2017, it might be hard to catch the Coyotes for the lottery position in the Pacific.
Overall, I hate seeing players get hurt in a fight due to incompetent linesmen. However, if there’s anyone who probably deserves it, Adam McQuaid is a great candidate. Enjoy:
The Comets lost all three games they played this week, but managed to gain a point in two of them. Utica hosted St. John’s for two consecutive home games, with the first being a 4-3 overtime loss. Curtis Valk, Jordan Subban, and Pascal Pelletier scored the Comets’ goals, but Subban was also partially to blame for the loss, taking a penalty in overtime. Jake Virtanen picked up an assist on Pelletier’s goal, with Valk and Alex Grenier the other notables to pick up points. Thatcher Demko was in net.
Richard Bachman returned for the rematch on Friday, but also ended up losing in overtime, 2-1. Wacey Hamilton scored the lone goal, assisted by Yan-Pavel Laplante and captain Carter Bancks. Virtanen picked up two shots, but also two minor penalties.
The Comets finished out 2016 with a rough 6-3 loss to the Rochester Americans on Saturday. Grenier, Darren Archibald, and Colby Robak got the goals, and Thatcher Demko managed to pick up an assist on Robak’s. Laplante showed off his pugilistic skills once again, as seen below:
Bits and Bobs:
-Bo Horvat’s strong finish to the year left him leading the team in goals and points for the calendar year of 2016. What a pleasure it has been to watch his development into a premiere NHL talent.
-Gary Bettman mentioned that the NHL will host three outdoor games during the 2017/18 season. I wouldn’t be surprised if one of them is hosted by the University of North Dakota, and if so, expect the Canucks to be involved thanks to Troy Stecher and Brock Boeser.
-The three wins this week showcased Willie Desjardins’ line-rolling at its very best. The Canucks’ opponents seemed to have a tough time containing the constant barrage of pressure as the three scoring lines came off the bench one after another.
-The controversy regarding Bo Horvat’s ice time, especially in relation to Brandon Sutter’s, is still misplaced, in my opinion. Again, I will reiterate that Desjardins seems to have a plan in place for Bo, and it seems to be working. Fans complained about Horvat playing on the 4th line in the past, and it ended up being great for his development. Remember, a stated goal of this organization was to fill age-gaps to supplement the aging core and incoming youth, and I think that’s what we’re seeing this season. Players like Sutter and Markus Granlund are eating up the minutes that the Sedins are losing, rather than Horvat or Baertschi, in order to provide a little shelter and less pressure overall. Horvat and Baertschi are, after all, still developing.
-The controversy surrounding Jacob Markstrom’s deployment, however, is fair. The team has invested in Markstrom with his three-year contract, and at some point they’re going to need to give him room to establish himself as a legitimate starter. Perhaps a Miller trade at the deadline is what it will take.
-With Alex Burrows playing his 800th game, and seeming like a near shoe-in for a top ten spot in franchise scoring, is there any doubt he’ll one day find himself in the Ring of Honour?
-Is this the most disappointing World Juniors in recent memory for Canuck fans? Between Brock Boeser’s injury, Guillaume Brisebois’s failure to make Team Canada, and Olli Juolevi captaining Finland to relegation, it’s hard to imagine it going any worse as far as the franchise is concerned. At least Lukas Jasek is still in contention!
-I’m no fan of Keith Tkachuk, nor his bratty son, but hats off to him for his honouring of former Canuck Pavol Demitra during the Blues’ alumni game: