Weekly Canucks Report: Week of January 2-8
Who Had a Good Week:
Bo Horvat- Horvat has become Mr. Consistency. This was yet another point-per-game week for him, and one has to wonder if this is just how it’s going to be from now on. Once again, he created offensive opportunities out of pretty much nothing, and further cemented his legend with the weiner dog shenanigans.
Ryan Miller- In three games this week, Ryan Miller made 90 saves, including a 44 save performance against the Flames on Friday. Miller looked fantastic for three straight wins, and isn’t going to give up his crease without a fight.
Alex Edler- The importance of Alex Edler was illustrated this week when injuries hit the backend, and Edler was forced to play some massive minutes. Edler is back to being a difficult player to play against.
Nikita Tryamkin- Tryamkin seemed to respond well to heavier minutes, and was rewarded for it, as his ice time increased throughout the week. Tryamkin is beginning to play a much more active game at the point, where his enormous wingspan helps him to get pucks on the net consistently.
Markus Granlund- Granlund only scored in one game, but it was a three point night against his former team and probably his best as a Canuck. Was the best member of his line throughout the week.
The 4th Line- It’s unclear how long the line of Gaunce-Chaput-Skille will be together, but they seem to fit well as a fourth unit. They’re strong on the forecheck and eat up valuable minutes.
Who Had a Rough Week:
Jayson Megna- With a quick viewing of the “Game in Five” from Saturday, posted on the Canucks’ Youtube channel, one can see Megna flub two golden opportunities (three, if you count the two whacks he had at one of them) and commit a brutal giveaway right inside his own blueline. This isn’t an isolated incident, either. Megna got an assist this week, but it was his first of the season!
The Sedins- The twins picked up some points during Monday’s game, but were pointless in three straight games afterwards. The team’s win streak was all the more remarkable because the top line wasn’t really doing anything for much of it.
Anton Rodin- Rodin is still injured to some degree, as his deployment shows, but then why isn’t he just sitting out? Will he ever be fully healthy? It’s hard not to lose patience with this promised payoff.
Loui Eriksson- Eriksson only put up one point in four games, and didn’t look particularly dangerous out there. With both he and the Sedins needing a jumpstart, has there ever been a better time to put them back together?
It will be interesting to see where Reid Boucher inserts into the lineup. It’s hard to say where he best fits, but the Sutter-Granlund line might be a nice start. Will a forward be sent down to help out Utica soon? Chaput and Megna are the obvious candidates, but it’s not out of the realm of possibility that Brendan Gaunce gets sent down to spend some time as a go-to offensive player.
With more defensive injuries, it might finally be time to give Jordan Subban a shot. After Tryamkin’s reaction to the Michael Ferland hit, it may be safer to call two defensemen up, anyway, which would mean Subban and Andrey Pedan.
The next two months, leading up the trade deadline, could be very important to the franchise and its future. If the team continues to play well, expect an acquisition or two, likely at the cost of future assets. If the team hits another skid and falls in the standings, expect some veterans like Jannik Hansen and Ryan Miller to be traded for draft picks and prospects, which will benefit the team in the long run.
With the Colorado Avalanche struggling so mightily this season, one has to wonder how safe Joe Sakic’s job is. If he does get the axe, maybe the Canucks can finally bring him home in some sort of executive role. What’s Paul Kariya doing these days?
The Chicago Blackhawks lost yet another Winter Classic game, bringing their total record to 0-3-0. Even more embarrassingly, they trotted out noted spousal abuser and Nazi Bobby Hull for the opening puck drop. Go Blackhawks!
The Comets got most of the week off, but then paid for it with a three games in three nights weekend, known as an AHL special. The first stop on the tour was Friday at home against Albany, and resulted in a 4-2 win. Richard Bachman got the W, with Colby Robak, Alex Grenier, Curtis Valk, and Wacey Hamilton all scoring a single goal. Grenier also got an assist, Darren Archibald got two, and Mike Zalewski picked up his first point in awhile.
The Comets picked up an overtime win the next night in Hershey against the Bears. Alex Grenier scored early in the third to knot things at 2-2, and Curtis Valk scored the winner 21 seconds into overtime. Valk also notched an assist and Archibald had two for his second game in a row. Speaking of streaks, Hamilton had the other goal, his second in as many games. Thatcher Demko was in net to outduel former Canuck prospect Joe Cannata.
Utica couldn’t make it a clean sweep, losing Sunday’s game to Lehigh Valley by a score of 4-1. Grenier had the only goal, assisted by Valk and Robak, and one has to wonder how hard of a look the Canucks are taking at Grenier and Valk. They seem to be the only players, along with Archibald, who are consistently scoring. Bachman was in net for the loss. Jake Virtanen was scoreless again this week, but at least he got in a shoving match with TJ Brennan this game.
Bits and Bobs:
-Fans are understandably worried that the team’s recent winning streak goes against the idea of this being a rebuilding season, and may entice management to be a buyer at the deadline. Roster movement aside, I think the win streak can be seen as a positive part of the rebuild because of which players were the major contributing factors. Young players like Horvat and Baertschi were the primary reason for the streak, which points to improvements in their development. That’s exactly how a rebuilding team is expected to improve, through individual talents getting better.
-Overall, other than the regression of the Sedins and Loui Eriksson’s inconsistent production, this seems like a pretty bright timeline for the Canucks. Horvat, Baertschi, Stecher, and Granlund have all developed far beyond expectations, and Burrows, Miller, Sbisa, Sutter, and Edler are all having bounceback years.
-There’s something to be said about the lack of physicality in the Canucks’ current lineup. Tryamkin is the team’s only real threat, and that became pretty apparent on Saturday when the Flames turned up the hitting and the Canucks could not respond. Derek Dorsett is more sorely missed than most realize, but surely there’s someone on the farm who could help.
-This season will be looked back on as a fantastic chapter in the legend of Bo Horvat. He actually won an adorable child a pet with nothing more than his scoring prowess! The saga continues.
-The five defenseman situation was definitely a bit odd. My best guess is that Ben Hutton reported himself as 100% good to go on Friday night, and the team chose not to call anyone up due to Utica’s aforementioned three games in three nights. Then, something flared up for Hutton overnight or early the next day, which caused him to pull out late.
-As for sitting Anton Rodin on the bench for the entire game, that’s more easily explained. This is often done when a team dresses 13 forwards, as seen in the World Juniors. Furthermore, Rodin is obviously not at 100%, so it makes sense to save him unless there’s an emergency.
-Alex Burrows has played defense for the Canucks in the past, and was a defenseman in junior. I wonder if they would have put him back there for a few shifts had Tryamkin actually left the game.
-Before we get to the more exciting prospect news, it should be noted that Jake Virtanen has only one point in his last eight games on the farm, and did not get a single point this week. The Canucks should seriously consider sending down Chaput or Gaunce to give Virtanen some more talent to play with. His progression is more than troubling at this point.
-Brock Boeser returned to North Dakota this week and racked up five points in two weekend games. The surgery seems to have been a success.
-Adam Gaudette, meanwhile, is up to 30 points in 19 games. He should absolutely be signed to a contract at the end of his NCAA season.
-It will be interesting to see how Olli Juolevi responds in the OHL after his disappointing WJC experience. Here’s hoping he goes on a tear. He picked up one assist and 11 shots in his first game back.