Weekly Canucks Report: Week of March 27-April 2
Who Had a Good Week:
Sven Baertschi-Bo Horvat-Brock Boeser- The Next Coast Express keeps on rolling, and are the only thing keeping Canuck games watchable right now. The line contributed all of the Canucks’ offense this week, even if that only amounted to two goals and one point each for the line. Still, Boeser has adapted to the NHL quicker than anyone anticipated, and he’s helping make sure that Baertschi and Horvat end the season on a high note.
Nikita Tryamkin- This week, Nikita Tryamkin played more than Chris Tanev. Now, Tanev is battling injuries, but that’s still a huge indicator of the amount of trust that Tryamkin has earned throughout the year. His massive hit on Dustin Brown made Canucks fans love him even more, just when they thought they couldn’t possibly.
Drew Shore- Shore will probably not be re-signed, but he’s putting in a pretty solid audition as a fourth line center right now. Shore isn’t fancy at all, although he has generated a few offensive chances and is decent on the forecheck. He was above 50% in faceoffs this week, and contributed heavily to a Canuck penalty kill that only got beat once against three strong offenses.
Who Had a Rough Week:
Nikolay Goldobin- There’s something about Goldy, at least according to Willie Desjardins. In the second game of the week, Goldobin received less ice time than Griffen Molino, in his first NHL game, and in the first game Goldobin only outplayed Joe LaBate. Finally, Goldy closed out the week by being scratched against his former team, the Sharks. It’s not looking like he’ll end the season on a scoring streak, unless he does it in Utica for the playoffs.
Philip Larsen- Larsen has been out of the picture for awhile, but he has popped back up to remind everyone how bad he is at defense. In his one game of the week, Larsen looked horrendous against Anaheim, and played so bad that he was replaced by Alex Biega, who had been dressed as a forward, part way through the game.
Sedins and Chaput- The allegedly young and talented Chaput just isn’t getting it done with the Sedins. Rather than adding to their line, Chaput accentuates the twins’ weakest points, like their lack of speed, and has helped turned the line into a bit of a defensive liability. That’s not good news, since they’re already an offensive black hole right now.
Jacob Markstrom- After recovering from food poisoning, it was confirmed that Markstrom would need season-ending surgery, a result of his injury suffered during the Super Skills competition. What a rotten end to an unpleasant season for Markstrom.
Jayson Megna receives a contract extension, and everyone loses their mind! However, Canuck fans may have overreacted on this one. Megna does appear to receive special treatment from coach Desjardins, but aside from that he’s been a pretty solid depth player. In reality, Megna would be an AHL asset with a different coach, and his near-minimum salary ensures he can play that role next year. Most importantly, Megna fulfills one of the Canucks’ two required exposure slots for forwards. Derek Dorsett no longer counts due to his injury, so expect at least one of Brendan Gaunce, Michael Chaput, or Jack Skille re-signed soon to fulfill the other obligation.
Griffen Molino chose the Canucks over at least a dozen other teams when he chose to sign as a UFA out of Western Michigan. Molino, 23, doesn’t have standout stats at any level, but he put up 33 points in 40 games this year and is reportedly a strong skater with a great work ethic. Molino looks to top out as a future bottom six guy, and he’s receiving an NHL audition right now.
The NHL revealed this week that it will publish protected and exposed lists for the upcoming Expansion Draft. This means that the public will know exactly who their team wanted to keep and who they felt comfortable losing, and will give fans in Vancouver and elsewhere yet another set of roster decisions to criticize over the summer.
RETIRED UNTIL NEXT SEASON!
At the very least, the Comets have had a consistent schedule lately, even if it’s consistently brutal. Once again, Utica played three games in three nights this weekend, and looked to solidify their playoff chances.
Things didn’t get off to a great start on Friday as the Comets visited Rochester for a 5-2 loss to the Americans, who are probably questioning their team name right about now. Thatcher Demko was actually pulled after he allowed four goals on 20 shots. Michael Garteig went in, but despite playing over half a period, he only faced one shot, which he saved. Pascal Pelletier scored, assisted my Michael Carcone and Alex Grenier. Jordan Subban scored an unassisted goal with 15 seconds left, but it was too little, too late.
A return home Saturday led to better results for the Comets, who turned the tables on Rochester by winning 5-3. Demko was back in net, making 20 saves en route to victory. Demko also picked up an assist on one of Jake Virtanen’s two goals, both of which were nice. Joe LaBate got a goal and an assist, and Carter Bancks and Darren Archibald scored the other goals. LaBate and Archibald both scored unassisted. Curtis Valk, Evan McEneny, and Wacey Hamilton each picked up a single helper.
It took a shootout, but the Comets managed to close out the week with a 3-2 defeat of the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, who hoard three city names to themselves. Subban had a goal and an assist, and Cody Kunyk scored the other goal. Frankie Corrado should actually get credit for the Comets’ second goal, however, as he shot it into his own net to help his former team. Valk picked up another helper on the week, adding to his impressive totals as an AHL rookie, and also notched the shootout winner. Demko made an impressive 43 saves total, and added three straight in the shootout.
The Comets are now tied with the slumping Albany Devils for the final playoff position in the North division. They’re also one point behind the St. John’s IceCaps. With only a couple of weeks remaining, every game counts from here on out.
Bits and Bobs:
-Is it time to get excited for a Utica playoff run? Not quite yet. The Comets are still in a battle to even make the playoffs, so Canuck fans should jump on the bandwagon right now to cheer them on for the stretch run. Players like Goldobin and Gaunce are eligible to go down for the playoffs, and others like Demko, Subban, and Virtanen are already there, so this could be quite an entertaining playoff run for Canucks fans if it happens.
-Speaking of the AHL playoffs, don’t expect to see Olli Juolevi there. Although Juolevi’s season could end this week, if he and the Knights are eliminated by new Canucks Jalen Chatfield and the Spitfires, he will not be starting his pro career right away. Jim Benning confirmed that the team has decided that Juolevi will begin his offseason training immediately, since he really needs to bulk up.
-Utica’s late season push has put Travis Green back into the conversation as a potential replacement for Willie Desjardins. ICYMI, I did a writeup on Green and seven other coaching candidates, and you can check it out here:
-Markstrom’s injury is one more cherry on top of a hard knock season for the Canucks, but the season-ending injury of John Tavares in New York gives a bit of perspective. The Canucks were, at the very least, lucky to avoid any injury to their very best player, Bo Horvat, or their two de facto leaders in the Sedins. Key defenders Stecher and Tryamkin also stayed healthy, and saw their careers blossom. Not every team had such luck. Some will speculate as to what the Canucks’ season could have been with better injury luck, but it always could have been worse.
-In the middle of the season, when the Canucks were on a hot streak, I proposed a very dark possibility: that the Canucks would flirt with playoff contention only to be eliminated by the Oilers in the two final games. Instead, now there’s a possibility that the Canucks could boot the Oilers out of the Pacific lead in those final two games. Most Canucks fans would prefer losses if it affects the lottery standings, but moral victories are always nice.
-Tune in next week for the final Canuck Report of the season. I’ll keep on doing the occasional article in the summer, and will almost certainly do write-ups for the both the Expansion and the Entry Draft, along with Free Agent Frenzy. As always, read it first at: