Weekly Canucks Report: Week of March 13-19
Who Had a Good Week:
Markus Granlund- Naysayers have been waiting for the other shoe to drop on Markus Granlund’s production, but it’s just not happening. Granlund has established himself as a legitimate top-9 NHLer, and he took charge of the Canucks’ offense this week. The Sedins have looked at their best with Granlund on their wing, as his two-goal game against the Bruins showed. Granlund was then swapped to Horvat and Baertschi’s wing, which has to be considered a promotion at this point. Who would have ever guessed Granlund would be on the cusp of 20 goals at this point?
Nikita Tryamkin- This week was hopefully a taste of what’s to come from Tryamkin’s career. His fight with Jamie Benn may have featured less “killer instinct” than some would have preferred, but the fact he’s tossed around the league’s premier power forward on multiple occasions this season is highly impressive. Tryamkin’s game is becoming more and more solid, and he even added a rare point this week.
Reid Boucher- Call me crazy, but I liked what Boucher brought to the Horvat-Baertschi line. Obviously, the coaching staff disagrees, but I think his ability to always get a good shot off makes him a valuable addition to two players that consistently generate chances.
Who Had a Rough Week:
Ryan Miller- I think Miller is starting to get worn down. He faced 78 shots in two games this week, so he’s not getting a ton of support, and his play has suffered a bit as a result. Miller is still giving the team more of a chance than it deserves, but he’s not quite at the standard of play he was earlier in the year.
Alex Edler- Speaking of worn-out, Edler has been eating up a ridiculous amount of ice time for the Canucks since his return from injury earlier in the year, and it’s beginning to show. Chris Tanev’s obvious injury puts even more of a load on Edler’s shoulders. He’s being asked to play the role of a number one defenseman, and he’s not always capable of that.
Chris Tanev and Brandon Sutter- It’s time to shut Chris Tanev and Brandon Sutter down. They are both clearly playing through injuries. Tanev is still able to play effective minutes, because he’s Chris Tanev, but he’s a step behind where he normally is, and there’s no real point in playing him now. Sutter is clearly less effective than he was at other points in the season. Let them get healthy and come back strong next season, please.
Michael Chaput- Chaput is simply not scoring line material. He’s being asked to do more by the coaching staff, for some reason, and he doesn’t have that “next level.” A depth player who should remain a depth player.
Willie Desjardins- The sometimes bizarre ice-time decisions of Coach Willie have been publically called out by Jim Benning, and Desjardins’ response was to put Michael Chaput on the top line again and increase Jayson Megna’s icetime. It’s hard to imagine Desjardins not being fired at the end of the season. He’s an easy scapegoat, and doesn’t appear to be fully aligned with management.
Jayson Megna- Why pile on at this point? Megna’s excessive icetime is not his own fault, but it does put his actual faults on display for all to see.
It sounds as though Brock Boeser is going to join the Vancouver Canucks as soon as North Dakota’s season is over, which may be very soon. Boeser will be able to audition for a permanent NHL spot with relatively low pressure, and he might be able to pull off the feat of never having to spend time in the AHL.
Adam Gaudette, on the other hand, won’t be signing a contract this year, and will be returning to Northeastern for his junior season. This is a bit disappointing to fans who wanted to see him join the Comets for a playoff push immediately and continue his professional development next season, but going back to college isn’t the worst decision. Gaudette will really get to be the go-to guy at Northeastern next year, and will almost certainly sign when their season is done.
The “mystery defenseman” turned out to be Jalen Chatfield, an undrafted defenseman playing for the Windsor Spitfires. Chatfield looks like a pretty run-of-the-mill prospect, but he only costs a contract slot and the Canucks will have plenty of those after this season is complete. Some Spitfire fans have given Chatfield rave reviews and claim his game is a bit understated and thus unheralded. Windsor hosts the Memorial Cup this year, so he’ll get some great experience there before joining the pros next season.
Last week, I talked about how nice it was to see the East finally forced to appreciate Alex Burrows. This week, it’s Jannik Hansen proving the opinions of Canuck fans correct, as he’s been placed on the San Jose top line alongside Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski. Another supposed beneficiary of the Sedins who has never received the league-wide respect he deserves. Perhaps that will change with a Stanley Cup run! Hansen was hurt on the weekend, but here’s hoping it is a minor setback.
Another week, another three-games-in-three-nights weekend for the Utica Comets. Thatcher Demko was back in the net on Friday to take on the Syracuse Crunch, who are part of a balanced breakfast. Demko racked up his eighth straight win, as the Comets won 4-3 thanks to a mid-third period goal from Mike Zalewski. Borna Rendulic and Pascal Pelletier each scored a goal and an assist, and Darren Archibald got a goal of his own, making this a fine night for the Utica veterans. Jordan Subban got back on the board with an assist. At this point, fans had to wonder, would Demko’s winning streak last forever?
No, it would not. The streak ended at eight as the Comets fell 4-1 against the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. Evan McEneny scored the lone Utica goal, but he was assisted by Subban and Jake Virtanen, which has to make Canuck fans happy. Andrey Pedan was penalized with a five minute boarding major for a questionable hit, and had to fight Ben Holmstrom after exiting the penalty box, which was Pedan’s first fight in awhile.
The Thatcher Demko win streak may have ended on Saturday, but it picked right back up on Sunday, and he began a potential point streak as well with an assist on an Alex Grenier goal during a 5-2 drubbing of the Providence Bruins. Virtanen also scored, just his seventh of the year, along with Michael Carcone, Curtis Valk, and Cody Kunyk. Chad Billins and Mike Zalewski each notched two assists, and Carcone and Grenier also joined the two-point club by adding assists of their own. Pedan got in another fight, this time with Anton Blidh (not a typo!).
Bits and Bobs:
-Jonathan Dahlen is on fire in his league playoffs right now. His four goal game caught a lot of attention, and according to Jim Benning he’s also attracted the attention of the Swedish World Championship team. That would be quite an honour for Dahlen, and a nice summer treat for Canuck fans.
-Speaking of prospects, Bob McKenzie had some great things to say about Jake Virtanen on his Bobcast. McKenzie’s opinion is as solid as any in hockey, and he believes that Virtanen still has a future as an NHL player and that his struggles are overblown. It’s hard to argue with the numbers on this, but it is nice to hear that Virtanen still has some high-profile believers out there.
-Nikolay Goldobin may be rethinking his excitement to be a Vancouver Canuck after his ridiculous illness. Goldobin reportedly lost 15 pounds in the ordeal. Sorry, Nikolay, this franchise was forever cursed when they let Mark Messier wear Wayne Maki’s #11 jersey, and now you’re one of us! Like joining the X-Men, we hope you survive the experience!
-After that third period hattrick, which boosted him into the league goal-scoring lead, is Brad Marchand now considered the ultimate Canuck killer? He’s definitely climbing the ranks of all-time Vancouver enemies.
-The Canuck fanbase seems to have finally united in embracing the tank. The loss against Dallas was huge for the Canucks’ potential descent down the standings, and after this week there is a very realistic chance they finish the season with the second highest draft lottery standings. The difference between second-last and third-last is especially important this year, since the third-last team will have equal odds in the lottery to Las Vegas, lessening their chances. Go Coyotes/Stars/Wings/Devils!
-I thought this comment on Reddit by funnyredditname deserved more attention. I mostly agree with the poster, and think they make an argument that helps make sense of Willie’s seemingly nonsensical choices:
-Sorry if it seems a little light this week, gang. I’m actually on the road all weekend. My trip included a drive through Vancouver, and seeing Alex Burrows’ banner still hanging outside Rogers Arena definitely choked me up a little. Here’s hoping they keep it up until next season.