Welcome back to WDYTT, the only hockey column on the internet that stays in Halloween mode all through the traditional holiday season.
Speaking of fright, both Jim Benning and Travis Green have to be at least a little frightened about the prospect of losing their job in the months to come. The 2021/22 season is not off to a great start for the Vancouver Canucks, and that might be putting it mildly.
When you go all-in on a season, sometimes the end result is you being all-out.
This wasn’t the plan, and now there may be consequences.
Benning is entering the back half of a four-year extension. Green got a two-year extension this past offseason. But either of the two actually finishing those contracts is far from a guarantee, and the longer the team’s struggles continue, the hotter their seats will become.
This week, we’re asking you to pick one over (or under) the other, by asking you:
Whose seat is hotter right now, Jim Benning or Travis Green?
Record your responses in the comment section.
Are you worried about Elias Pettersson’s slow start to the 2021/22 season?
Your responses are below!
Yes, I am worried about Elias Pettersson. He hasn’t looked very good since the 2020 playoffs. That’s a pretty long funk. I’m starting to wonder if his injuries have had a permanent impact on his game. Is it long-haul covid? Something else? In any case, it’s concerning, considering that the whole team is pretty much built around him.
It’s a team game. Once Boeser starts scoring, with those nice setups by Petey, the pressure is off and everyone will relax.
I’m not concerned about Pettersson in the long-term (beyond this year) and the medium-term (second half of this season). I do think it will take him some time to get back to playing like himself.
I’m not concerned. He’s going to get better as we go along but a lot of this rests at the feet of Green. In addition to criminally mismanaging Podkolzin, he is hurting Petey as well. Settle on the top-six and get these guy used to playing together. That takes some time. Juggling people all over hurts chemistry. Make a choice and stick to it. I really do believe Höglander should be paired with Pettersson and Boeser. Garland would fit nicely on the second with Horvat and either Pearson or Miller, though there is some argument for making JT the 3rd line center permanently. Once the lines solidify, I think all concerns will be out the window.
It’s always hard to miss camp and catch up to the rest of the team. With his own expectations and everyone else’s, I think it’s fair to give him a bit more time to find his game, before full-on panic.
That said, there was a play in the third period last night where he was heading up ice from our own blueline and it looked like he was skating in mud. He was caught before he hit the redline and turned the puck over. I have read elsewhere that his skating is considered below-average, but I think its often masked by his hands, skills, and shiftiness. Now, I fear that other teams are getting wise to his tricks, and without any improvement to his skating, he might be less dominant than we have grown accustomed to, and that concerns me.
(Winner of the author’s weekly award for eloquence)
Thank goodness Pettersson is only signed for three years. I hope he gets back to where he was when he started with the Canucks, but if these slow starts and drop-off in play continue, I think the Canucks will have dodged a bullet by not giving him a long-term contract.
Right now, Pettersson is too hesitant on the ice. When he first started, the puck would be on his stick, then off his stick for a shot on net. Now he receives the puck and holds on to it until and opposing player gets in position and there is no play left. When the puck is passed to him, he needs to get his shot off right away, and change up the angle of the shot before the defender can get into position.
Pettersson is too stationary on the ice. He receives the puck, but generally does not move around much. You watch Barzal, McDavid, and other great players, and you see them move with the puck around the ice, draw multiple players to them, and then dish it off to the open teammate. Pettersson does not move around enough, so he is easier to defend against. When Pettersson is setting up to receive a pass, he should be moving instead of standing still. If he moves, then the defender must constantly re-adjust position which causes openings that Pettersson can take advantage of. By standing still, the defender can establish a solid blocking angle and be ready for a Pettersson one timer. Bottom-line, Pettersson needs to move more and cause the opposition to move and create openings. This is probably his biggest problem now.
Pettersson’s puck handling under pressure has suffered this last year. The puck falls off his stick way too much, and he tends to fall over a lot. I think this is rust, and he just needs repetitions to get back on track.
Pettersson needs to play with more confidence, and less hesitancy, and he needs to move around the ice more before and after he gets the puck.
A River Named Curt:
Yes. He is not performing up to his new contract. I suspect part of it is related to his recovery from last year’s season-ending injury, part of it is due to him missing camp, and part of it is Green starting games by having EP play with such stellar first liners as Chiasson and Dowling.
If you think he’s a budding superstar, then you should be terrified.
If you think like I do that he will be a career 60-70 point per season guy then his slow start, uncreative, and tentative play is par for course.
If I was to describe EP’s game at this time, I’d say he looks like he doesn’t give a darn.
Plenty of highly-paid guys across the league have gotten off to bad starts and Petey is one of them. While “being worried” may be the wrong term to apply to EP40’s play, I think he and the rest of his cohorts, particularly on the PP, should quit trying to make the pretty highlight package play trying to score goals. See how this all plays out through this lengthy home stand, and if things haven’t approved then, maybe you should start worrying.
Are you worried about Elias Pettersson? That’s a fair question to ponder a couple of weeks into the season based on his performance so far. Frustrating to see as a fan so far, yes. Worried, nope…
Yes, he’s had a slow start to the season. Elias Pettersson has been a high-calibre player at every level his entire hockey life, including his time so far overall in the NHL, and it’s near impossible to rationally think that he has forgot how to play or his skills have suddenly diminished significantly long-term (barring an unknown physically-ailing situation).
Those who claim that he just hasn’t been the same since his stellar playoffs nearly 14 months ago (18 pts/17gms) seem to forget that, after a slow start in 2020, he produced 19 pts in 18 games before his wrist injury prematurely ended his season. Those are impressive results. If you consider how incredibly poorly the Canucks team did last season, which was hampered by COVID, injuries, and a ridiculous schedule.
Looking at this season, the eye test has not been very good, as his timing, confidence, decision-making, and energy aren’t up to his and our standards. This is not completely unexpected, without the benefit of a proper training camp, the 225 days gap between games played due to wrist surgery, recovery, and the extended offseason. He has only managed 4 pts in 7 games (-2), but then again, last season he started with only 2 pts in 8 games and he played very well thereafter. It may take him a few more games, but I fully expect Petey to find his form soon and play like he and the fans believes he can.
I don’t buy into the thought that any of this has to do with coaching, linemates, his new contract, his perceived “arrogance”, etc. Sure, there are some things that the coach should do to help him find his groove, but I believe EP will find his way regardless, as he is simply too talented and determined to not succeed.
Worried doesn’t really cover it. Two consecutive slow starts is very concerning to me. He caught most teams off-guard in his rookie season, but teams watch film and have adjusted by taking away his time and space. He now needs to adjust his game, as lining up for a one timer at the top of the right circle is just not good enough. He’s far too stationary and easy to cover now. The creativity we’ve seen in the past is there, but its currently not getting the results the team is paying for. Sure hope he can work through this, because I sure as hell don’t want to see him become Elias Poutersson like he did last year. Perhaps if he had not allowed his agent to stickhandle the club into a corner, and signed earlier and showed up at camp, the team he wants to win with would be better off.
Been a fan since ’78 and have seen a lot of young players have mixed results early in their career, this regression is new to me.
I expect Pettersson to shake the rust off and return to being the most impactful forward on the team.
While unlikely, the consequences of him not being the #1centre he is expected to be are severe. You have to draft very early to land a #1 centre. Trading for one is near impossible. The cost of signing one from the UFA market astronomical. The Canucks are stuck with Pettersson for three years and have no easy path to replacing him. His back-end-loaded contract makes a trade more difficult.
While I expect Pettersson to return to form, I’m not certain he will. I wish I could be certain rust and the injury were all that’s at play here. I see less intensity and less desire in him now than ever. Creates doubt. We don’t know how negotiations actually went? Lingering animosity, maybe? A lot of unkind things were said by fans during those negotiations. I hope he was smart enough not to read them. Some players just lose their edge and never get it back.
Pettersson’s success was not just about skill. He outworked opponents. Seen some glimpses, but not the consistent effort of the star player we expect.
The question is: are you worried that his wrist injury(s) will completely derail his effectiveness. Or only partially?
Chris the Curmudgeon:
I would say that I am mildly concerned, but that said mildness is open for escalation if things don’t change quickly. Last year was also a slower start for Pettersson, but he hit his stride shortly thereafter and was looking solid before his injury, so that leads me to think that these may be just early season woes exacerbated by missing training camp (and the end of last year).
What really concerns me is the thought that opponents may have “figured EP out”. If you watch the way opposing penalty killing units defend him, it’s obvious that they are anticipating the big one-timer and know that EP is setting that up at the expense of cycling it elsewhere. When he can find that lane, that’s fine, but if it’s not there, the hope is to find a good passing lane to exploit the defence’s overcommitment to the shot. A nice pass on Chiasson’s goal last game notwithstanding, I see very little evidence that EP is still thinking pass on the PP as anything but a fallback. If Pettersson has lost confidence in his playmaking ability such that it’s causing permanent changes in how he approaches the PP, that could be hard to reverse.
Similarly, EP has looked entirely pedestrian in his zone entries. Timid even. Previously, I liked his ability to find space between the defenders and use his speed and stickhandling ability to maintain possession if a good rush chance wasn’t there. But this season, for whatever reason, he seems to be knocked off the puck more easily and isn’t distributing it very well in the offensive zone. Again, could just be early season jitters, but if he’s telegraphing his plans with the puck after crossing the blue line, and not able to adapt to how the defence approaches him, then that’s a reason to be more worried going forward.