Anthony Beauvillier: ‘People that know hockey know I’m playing well’ despite goal-scoring struggles

Photo credit:© Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Jeff Paterson
6 months ago
First things first, Anthony Beauvillier wants you to know he’s sleeping just fine these days.
There are many Vancouver Canucks fans that figure with just two goals through the team’s first 20 games, the veteran winger must be up all night fretting about his lack of production so far this season. Beauvillier is well aware his counting stats are nowhere close to where they should be – or where he wants them to be – and admits both surprise and disappointment with the lack of offence he’s generated for the hockey club with six assists to go along with those two goals.
Beauvillier doesn’t hide from the fact both goals came in the same game and were the ninth and 10th goals in the Canucks’ 10-1 romp in San Jose on November 2nd. Other than that, it’s been a massive struggle to put the puck in the net.
But despite the paltry goal total, Beauviller remains upbeat about the way the season is going for both himself and the hockey club.
“I think I’m playing well right now, they’re just not coming easy,” he said after practice at Rogers Arena before the team departed on its current road trip. “At the end of the day, I’m going home feeling good about my game. That’s the most important thing. Call it luck, call it got to pick my corners a little better. I think I’m skating well and trying to play hard and be hard to play against. It will come. I feel confident about my game.”
On an expiring $4.15M contract, Beauvillier knows many will look at his two goals – and a current 10-game drought after opening the season without scoring in the team’s first nine games – and wonder how he’s keeping his spot in the Canucks line-up. But a further inspection of the 26-year-old’s game reveals relatively strong underlying data. And even the eye test has shown an uptick in his performance in recent games earning him a promotion for several shifts alongside JT Miller and Brock Boeser and his second highest ice time of the season (16:27) in Wednesday’s 5-2 loss in Denver.
But most of this season has been an adjustment to a role lower in the line-up than Beauvillier has ever played before at any point in his NHL career. His most frequent linemates have been Sam Lafferty and Nils Höglander and that trio put in an effective shift to open the scoring in Colorado. In 79 minutes of 5-on-5 play with those three on the ice, the Canucks hold a 7-1 edge in goals scored, have controlled 55.6% of all shot attempts and have outshot opponents 51-34. Beauvillier’s goals against/60 is one of the lowest among all regulars on the team behind only Dakota Joshua and Pius Suter. So while he’s not producing much, Beauvillier is not getting scored on and in 240 minutes at 5-on-5 this season, the Canucks have outscored opponents 10-3 with him on the ice.
Individually, Beauvillier is fifth among all Canucks forwards with 37 shots on goal and his 5.4% shooting clip is less than half of his career average (11.4%). So he’s likely due for a bounce or two sometime soon. He has had just one game all season when he hasn’t registered a shot on goal (last week in Calgary) and hasn’t finished a night yet this season as a minus player.
A second period interference penalty against the Avs was costly as it negated a Canucks power play with the game tied 2-2. However, it was just Beauvillier’s second penalty of the season and as such he hasn’t made a habit of putting his team in difficult situations.
So there is some statistical evidence that Beauvillier is doing many of the right things to help the hockey club. He’s just not putting pucks in the net. And a glorious goal-mouth opportunity in the middle stages of the second period in Denver was just the latest example of a puck that simply won’t go in for Beauvillier these days.
“Whenever you don’t produce, you want to do other things for the team,” he said. “You want the team to do well. The atmosphere in the room has been great so it’s not hard to come to the rink and have fun.
I think our line has been doing a lot of good things. Playing with Hoggy and Laf it’s just north-south hockey, very predictable and it’s two strong guys that can win puck battles in the offensive zone. We’ve been creating chances off of that and I’ve been enjoying playing with those two guys.”
Earlier in his career, Beauvillier admits the scoring struggle would have bothered him more than this one is. Winning also helps and the Canucks have done plenty of that reaching the 20-game mark with an impressive record of 13-6-1. But all Canucks depth forwards have to recognize that when Pius Suter returns from injury, the coaching staff will have a difficult decision to make about who comes out of the line-up.
A few games ago, it looked like Beauvillier was playing his way into the press box or at least was putting himself in a position where he might be a healthy scratch. And he’s not out of the woods in that regard. But his improved efforts of late with assists in back-to-back games look like he’s doing what he can to elevate his performance. 
But it’s just so hard to get past those two measly goals.
“People are looking at numbers, for sure,” he conceded. “But I know I’m playing well and I feel like people that know hockey know I’m playing well. I wish I could have 25 (goals), it’s not necessarily ideal. I’m a goal scorer and I want to score goals. I feel like I’m repeating myself, but I’m doing a lot of the right things here.”
For his part, head coach Rick Tocchet appreciates the effort he’s seen from Beauvillier through the scoring struggles. 
“I thought he was quick on the puck and that’s when he’s at his best,” Tocchet said of giving Beauvililier a chance to play higher in the line-up. “They’re going to go. They’re going to come. He’s got to continue to play on the inside. Look, he’s got a cut on his face. I think he took a cross-check there and he bounced right back up. He’s just got to continue to do that stuff and they’ll go.”
Beauvillier is keeping the faith and wants to believe he will be rewarded soon. But this deep into his drought and given the way the season has gone to this point, it’s hard to imagine that one goal – even an ugly goal – will be enough to open the offensive taps. 
Still, Beauvillier knows this slump can’t last forever and he’s the only one that can get himself out of this funk.
“I know it’s such a cliche, but I just want to feel good about my game and have chances,” he said. “Coaches and everyone in this hockey world say when you have chances you’re doing the right things – so I’m trying not to deviate from the right mindset here.”
While he says he’s not losing sleep over his offensive struggles, Anthony Beauvillier would surely rest easier if he could rediscover his scoring touch and figure out a way – any way – to put a puck in the net for the first time in forever.

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