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Photo Credit: © Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

News and Notes: Baertschi’s Role, Sutter’s Resurrection, and Doughty’s Frustration

Despite getting dropped in overtime by the defending Stanley Cup Champions last night, the Canucks have now earned points in eight straight games since their 1-0 loss to the lowly New Jersey Devils. Here are some news and notes for the off-day.

On Sven Baertschi…

After surprisingly finding his way to the waiver wire and subsequently the AHL at the beginning of the season, an injury to Michael Ferland has given Sven Baertschi a chance to prove his worth to the team at the NHL level. There’s no doubt that Baertschi is keen for another chance to prove himself at the NHL level. When he was sent down to the AHL, he was shocked by the news.

“Once a team puts you on waivers, you sort of have that weird feeling, kind of: ‘What’s next and where do we go from here? Do they need me still?’” Baertschi said in an interview with Sportsnet. “The first feeling when I got back to Utica was: ‘Why am I here again? I thought I left the AHL and became an NHL player.’ At the end of the day, I was going to Utica with the mindset I am an NHL player. I’ve become that.”

Baertschi dominated AHL competition with 10 points in seven games for the Utica Comets, but where does he fit on a team that’s rolling like the Canucks are?

Green explicitly said prior to Tuesday night’s game that he wasn’t going to change the lineup, which makes sense given the way the team has been playing. I mean, if it isn’t broken, why fix it? That said, after getting dropped by the Blues, a shuffle could find Baertschi in the lineup for the first time this season when the team hits the road to play Chicago and Winnipeg.

While Vancouver is getting a lot of offence this year, one area that could use some help is on the wing of captain Bo Horvat. Horvat had 30 different combinations of wingers last year and he’s already had five different combinations this year. While the top trio of Elias Pettersson, J.T. Miller, and Brock Boeser and the third-line trio of Brandon Sutter, Josh Leivo, and Jake Virtanen are rolling along, Horvat hasn’t found consistent linemates. Tanner Pearson hasn’t been getting it done, as he has just six points in 15 games, so maybe it’s time to give Baertschi a chance alongside Horvat.

On Brandon Sutter’s Ressurection

A pleasant surprise early on this season has been the play of Brandon Sutter. After a disastrous 2018-19 season that was derailed due to a shoulder injury, Sutter is playing arguably his best hockey as a member of the Canucks. This is the result of Sutter playing in a decreased role and finding a winger he has chemistry with.

When Sutter was acquired back in 2015 in exchange for Nick Bonino, Adam Clendening, and a second-round pick, Jim Benning’s goal was to find a guy who could become the new Ryan Kesler. But Sutter was never able to fill that role. His first year in Vancouver was mired with injured and he was in over his head the next two, getting caved in when it came to on-ice shot attempts. Last season was the worst, as Sutter put up just six points in 26 games.

This year has been a different story, though. Since getting paired up with Josh Leivo, Sutter has been playing some of his most effective hockey in years. The duo has a 56.4 Corsi For percentage at even strength and they’re also outscoring opponents six to three. The sample size is small, but it’s a positive indication that Sutter has found a role he can thrive in.

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“A lot of it is the guys around you. We have a deeper team than we’ve had in the past,” Sutter told The Province. “From our back end up, we’re getting more chances, more shots, less time in our zone than maybe previously. That always makes things easier for you, especially when you’re supposed to be strong defensively. It’s nice when you can spend more time shooting pucks instead.”

Travis Green also reinforced that Sutter is thriving in a different role this season.

“I think we’ve used him a little bit differently, not solely in a matchup purpose, which has probably helped him as well,” Green told the Vancouver Courier. “And give him credit he’s playing really good hockey right now.”

“Our team’s matured. I play Horvat in different situations, I play Beagle — I think that line has played extremely well this year and it’s allowed us to put them on the ice against top lines as well. And from a coaching standpoint, that’s a nice option to have and I’ve been playing Petey more heads up against top lines.

Sutter averaged roughly 18 minutes of ice-time per game in his first four seasons with the Canucks while also making heavy starts in the defensive zone. This year, he’s been skewed more to the offensive zone while playing just 15:24 per game. He has eight points in 15 games, putting him on pace for a career-high 43 points.

On Drew Doughty’s comments…

Drew Doughty is frustrated with people taking his comments the wrong way. A month after giving the Canucks a catchphrase, Doughty got everyone in Toronto riled up by saying the Leafs need to play better all-around hockey.

“If you guys want us to be able to say things and be honest with you, and then you’re going to go run with it and just get attacked by it, we’re just gonna stop talking,” Doughty told Sportsnet before yesterday’s game in Toronto. “Out in Vancouver, guys twisted my words. Pissing me off. I just want to go play and win games.”

Doughty, of course, is referencing his post-game quote from his Kings’ 8-2 spanking at the hands of the Canucks back on Oct. 9 in which he said “a team like that should not be beating a team like ours 8-2. There’s absolutely no way.” The quote gave Canucks bulletin board material, both in the dressing room and on social media.

But even though the Canucks took Doughty’s comments literally word for word, he expressed frustration that it wasn’t it what he meant and that the media was trying to run with something.

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“The guy’s an idiot that made all that happen,” Doughty said Tuesday, when asked about Vancouver’s “Team Like That” catchphrase. “What I was trying to say there is they’re a young team, we’re an old team, and we lost the game like 8-1 or something like that. And that’s just ridiculous for a veteran to lose that bad to any team in the league — not only a young team. That’s what I meant by those comments. Just standard people making it run.”

I mean, if that’s how you feel, you could, you know, say that? Say in your post-game rant that a veteran team shouldn’t lose to a young team. Put more thought into what you’re saying if you know full well everyone is ready to take your words and blow them up.