Lost in all the hoopla of the Elias Pettersson rock show is the actual Vancouver Canucks roster. It isn’t littered with future Hall of Famers, or even more than a few All-Stars but it is on pace to have the most 20-goal scorers for the first time since 2010 when they had six above the 20 -mark and two above 30.
EP40 has led the way on this year’s journey while Bo Horvat and Brock Boeser both have had equally impressive first halves. After that, it basically drops off. Jake Virtanen is the only other player on the team with 10+ goals (11) but he hasn’t even registered a point in seven games.
The Canucks have been shutout in two of their last three games and one of them was to the bottom-dwelling New Jersey Devils 4-0, the other just came at the hands of the Montreal Canadiens which saw Pettersson knocked out early on with a leg ailment. The point was made earlier this season that if the Canucks somehow made the playoffs this year it would most likely entail that EP40 dragged this team kicking and screaming and considering they haven’t done a whole lot of the kicking, hitting, punching or otherwise, the screaming will have to do.
There are players on this team that are being paid to score goals, namely one, Loui Eriksson, and even though the ship for his goal scoring hopes have basically sailed, he’s still being paid $6 million per season to produce. We’re not beating a dead horse here because they’ve waived Sam Gagner TWICE when he had already produced at a better clip than Eriksson with only seven games played to Loui’s 44.
Gagner put up three points in seven games while Eriksson had 16, that’s .428 points-per-game to .363. Gagner also scored on the PP in his time up here and was exiled shortly after.
After the obvious elephant in the dressing room, you can look down the roster and point the finger at pretty much anyone and there is cause for concern. This team wouldn’t be anywhere close to talking about the playoffs if it weren’t for Pettersson but seeing as he’s here and has actually elevated other player’s games there should be some kind of trickle-down effect.
There hasn’t been. Here’s a list of what the Canucks have, or actually haven’t done lately:
- Josh Leivo had a hot little start but now has 3G in his last 13GP.
- Eriksson has 3G in his last 26 games.
- Virtanen has 3G in 24 games.
- Granlund has 2G in 23 games.
- Goldobin has 3G in 22 games (maybe the healthy scratches aren’t so unwarranted).
- Alex Edler has three of his four goals in his last 14 games and he’s on defense.
That list should be alarming.
The Canucks currently sit 13th in the league with 127 goals-for and at this point last year (44 games played) they had 116 which was all the way at the bottom in 26th spot. The bump there is obviously the emergence of EP and having Boeser on his line. Without their contributions, or at least Pettersson’s, Vancouver would be behind last year’s production. Whoever they would have added wouldn’t have had the same effect as EP, they just wouldn’t.
Many have criticized Travis Green about his usage, or lack thereof of Goldobin or his overplaying of Eriksson, two issues that have been well-chronicled in the media but the throbbing sore thumb situation is mainly on special teams or more specifically, the power-play.
It’s in a state of chaotic disarray. Vancouver’s success rate sits at 17.9% and yet they have the 3rd highest drawn penalties in the league (145), six off of the Flames for first overall.
It’s alarming because they employ both Boeser and Pettersson on the top unit with Horvat taking the draws. The setups are predictable, dreadfully predictable, and the drop pass has begun to be intercepted. That’s also a problem because it’s happening at center ice.
Last season, when the man-advantage revolved around getting Brock Boeser into his “spot”, everything funneled itself to one side and eventually Brock let’r rip. There is a potential embarrassment of riches on the first unit but the whole league knows what the Canucks are going to do when they go up a man.
Goal scoring is still a big problem for the Canucks and being fooled into thinking this team is good enough for the playoffs is somewhat a farce. Reality has been overshadowed by a great story in the first half of the season but there need to be improvements if the rebuild is in fact shaved down a year.
Goaltending has been remedied for now but even when the goaltending gives up just two goals, Vancouver needs to score at least that to keep things competitive.
Until then, we all better hope Pettersson and Boeser finish their season on an epic pace because they’re the only ones that will.