Analyzing the Canucks’ situation with Andrei Kuzmenko ft. Jeff Paterson: Canucks Conversation

Photo credit:© Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
Clarke Corsan
6 months ago
On today’s episode of Canucks Conversation, David Quadrelli and Harman Dayal were joined by CanucksArmy and RinkWide’s Jeff Paterson to discuss Andrei Kuzmenko being a healthy scratch for tonight’s game against the Nashville Predators.
“I really don’t think Tocchet is trying to send a message,” said Harm. “I believe he looks at it as Nashville is one of the hottest teams in the league right now, and with DeSmith starting and Juuse Saros on the other end, he needs to dress his absolute best lineup. Kuzmenko scored in both the Tampa and Florida games, but followed it up with a quiet game against Minnesota, where his line was outplayed. The Chicago game wasn’t egregiously bad, but there were certainly blemishes. I also think the power play struggles work against him; I don’t think the top unit has been struggling because of him, but he’s definitely been part of a unit that hasn’t been working. If the power play was clicking, Tocchet might have looked at the situation differently.”
In the 10 games since returning from 2 healthy scratches in late November, Kuzmenko has 3 goals, 0 assists, and 13 shots. The Canucks have been outshot 64-36 at 5-on-5 with him on the ice in that stretch.
“I don’t think Kuzmenko played badly enough that he had to be scratched, but the fact that he is (scratched) speaks volumes about how the coach views this player and it perhaps not being a long-term fit.”
The Canucks head into Nashville tonight to take on the red-hot Predators, who have won 4 straight and are 13-3 over their last 16 games. Since Nov. 18th, no team has more points or wins, and only one team has scored more goals than the Preds.
JPat then made his appearance to touch on the Kuzmenko issue among other things.
Quads: “Kuzmenko is a healthy scratch tonight, your thoughts on that?”
“I’m not surprised,” JPat answered. “It’s unfortunate it’s come to this so quickly again. I was hoping the message had been sent with the back-to-back (scratches) in Seattle and San Jose, but there hasn’t been an awful lot to his game. The minute Pius Suter came back, we knew there were going to be difficult decisions to make. We’re back at this point in time where we know Kuzmenko’s not a fourth-line guy, but he’s not producing in the top-six. The punishment was to drop him lower in the lineup, but he’s not doing the things Rick Tocchet wants from his fourth line. If you’re on the fourth line with whoever is back there, Tocchet has some expectations, and it’s just evidently clear that’s not what you’re going to get from Kuzmenko. You ask, ‘What is his contribution to the lineup?’ The Canucks are still winning more than their share of hockey games, whether he’s in the lineup or not. It’s a conundrum.”
Jeff continued: “This isn’t great for a hockey club that’s had so much success this year to have this black cloud hanging over them and everybody asking, ‘What are you doing with this guy who makes five and a half this year and five and a half next year?’
JPat followed up with some thoughts on DeSmith getting the start over Demko tonight: “It’s so clear that the coaching staff and organization as a whole have the confidence that Casey DeSmith isn’t just giving Demko rest here. They believe in this guy, and they haven’t sheltered him.”
You can watch the full segment in the video below:

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