Tuesday October 9 - Carolina Hurricanes 5 - Vancouver Canucks 3
We knew this was going to be a tough road trip, right?
Two games in, the Canucks have been outscored 12-7 after a 5-3 defeat at the hands of the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday. Here are your highlights:
Coming into the season, the concern was where the goals were going to come from, but that part is going OK so far. Thanks primarily to a power-play that's clicking at a rate of 36.4 percent—good for seventh in the league—the Canucks are averaging an even four goals a game. Yes, scoring is up all around the league, but that ties them for sixth overall offensively, with Pittsburgh, Dallas and Calgary.
Of course, none of this might be happening without Elias Pettersson, who *only* picked up an assist last night but has still factored in an even half of Vancouver's goals so far, and whose six points have him in an eight-way tie for eighth place in the early Art Ross race, among names like Tavares, Kane, Benn and Aho.
In three games, Pettersson's ice time has gone from 9:46 to 16:05 to 19:10. He led all Canucks forwards against Carolina on Tuesday—and went 7-for-10 on draws. And continued to hustle even in the dying seconds, win a win was out of reach.
The kid's work ethic is so impressive, and his level of accountability is so mature. The Canucks are becoming his team in a big hurry. At this point, I wouldn't be against considering him to be Vancouver's next captain.
Meanwhile, Sven Baertschi picked up the first three points of his season on Tuesday after being dropped to the line with Brandon Sutter and Jake Virtanen, starting off with this beauty deke:
Brandon Leipsic started the game with Brock Boeser and Bo Horvat but was benched in the second period until the 14:45 mark after being on the ice for two goals against in the first. When he did resurface, it was with Sutter and Virtanen. Baertschi was moved back with Horvat—and Loui Eriksson—as Boeser was moved with Pettersson and Goldobin.
Vancouver's other two goals were both generated by the first power-play unit—Horvat's second of the season and Baertschi's second of the night. Boeser did finally record his first point of the year with the secondary assist on Horvat's tally. He still managed just three shot attempts, just one of which was on goal, but started to look like his motor was starting to rev back up.
I hope Travis Green keeps Boeser and Pettersson together next game. For whatever reason, the chemistry just hasn't been working with Boeser and Horvat at 5-on-5. They pair have been a black hole, offensively, and are tied at a league-worst minus-seven through just three games.
That brings us to the defence, which has—not unexpectedly—been pretty easy for the opposition to penetrate over these last two games.
Tuesday's hall of shame—watcha doin', Pouliot and Gudbranson?
Say what you will about Jacob Markstrom—and those weak first-shot goals continue to be an issue for him—he didn't get much help on Tuesday.
In his return to the lineup, Ben Hutton didn't get a sniff of power play time. All told, he logged 13:41, starting with Troy Stecher, then flipping to play with Gudbranson. He had one shot attempt (missed) and was a minus-one—on the ice for what turned out to be Andrei Svechnikov's game-winning goal.
Can you spot him on this play?
After scratching Michael Del Zotto for the first time since he became a Canuck, Travis Green has indicated that behind Alex Edler, the left side of the blue line is wide open. Personally, I think it's a little early to believe that means an imminent call-up for Olli Juolevi after two decent games in Utica last weekend. It'd be nice to see Hutton, Del Zotto and Pouliot rise to the occasion and play better after being challenged by their coach.
That's what it'll take to get some wins on this trip. Through three games, the Canucks have a goals-against average of 4.67, tied with the Rangers and Chicago for fifth-worst in the league.
Let's wrap up today with this little nugget from Nikolay Goldobin. Think his confidence is starting to rise?
One of the themes of Elliotte Friedman's new 31 Thoughts
column is the idea that the NHL is moving towards becoming more fun. Thumbs-up from me!