Bruce Boudreau believes that scoring chances will eventually evolve into goals for Vasily Podkolzin and Nils Höglander

Photo credit:© Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
By Faber
2 years ago
Anyone who consistently watches the Vancouver Canucks sees that Vasily Podkolzin and Nils Höglander can create scoring chances. It’s likely the reason why head coach Bruce Boudreau currently has Podkolzin and Höglander playing on the wing for Elias Pettersson.
The coach is very aware of the offence that the two can create and believes that these scoring chances will soon be finding the back of the net. The coach spoke about his two young wingers’ play after the Canucks’ 7-1 shellacking of the Flames.
“I thought Hoggy and Podz both had a multitude of chances that they didn’t finish on and in a year from now or two years from now, they’re going to be finishing all those,” said Boudreau. “It’s the learning curve that they’re going through that maybe they took a little too long or hesitated a little bit too much when they have two-on-ones down low. It’s a great learning experience and they compete. I love the way Pods always goes to the protection of his teammates even if it’s [Nikita] Zadorov, who’s eight feet tall. So, those are some great things when you look at those young guys.”
Even though the two wingers have not been producing a ton during their time at five-on-five under Boudreau, they are getting their scoring chances as Boudreau hinted at.
Höglander is ranked fifth in individual expected goals in his time under Boudreau while Podkolzin comes in at seventh on the team. Both of these players are getting into the positions to score goals but have not been able to convert on many of their chances.
For Höglander, it’s been really tough as he sports a 4.17% five-on-five shooting percentage under Boudreau and the eye test will tell you that he deserves more goals than he has gotten so far with Boudreau as a coach. There was a defensive effort early in Thursday’s game against the Flames that had to have caught the coach’s eye as Höglander showed a lot of effort to break up a scoring chance with a strong backcheck into the slot.
Plays like that will gain the coach’s attention and will look even better in the film room the next day.
There is a lot of success coming to the Höglander-Pettersson-Podkolzin line of late. They have played just over 60 minutes together since Boudreau took over and have shown well for the eye test and are backed up with the analytics. They control a majority of the shot attempts, have outscored opponents 5-1, and have a 66% control of expected goals in their time together.
Podkolzin is really beginning to earn the coach’s trust as he was the player who can be seen going up the lineup when an injury or change of top lines needs to be done. Thursday’s game was a good example as Podkolzin found himself getting shifts with Bo Horvat and Brock Boeser as well as some time with Conor Garland — an old linemate of his.
The young duo of Podkolzin and Höglander have a long way to go before they hit their ultimate potential but anyone who thinks they are already hitting their peak is just flat-out wrong.
Yes, these two have had their ups and downs in the NHL but let’s not forget that these two players have a combined age that is still younger than New York Islanders defenceman Zdeno Chara or Florida Panthers forward Joe Thornton. These two are so young and have so much to learn before we will see their peak performance in the NHL.
Fans should enjoy their development as they continue to create scoring chances and give up highlight-reel goals even if it’s not on a nightly basis.
Boudreau knows that their goals are coming, and that the scoring chances indicate that it’s not far away.

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