JPat’s Canucks thoughts: Brock Boeser, Filip Hronek, Ilya Mikheyev, and Casey DeSmith

Photo credit:© Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
Jeff Paterson
3 months ago
Random thoughts on four Canucks as the club tries to get back on track after consecutive low-scoring losses to Los Angeles and Dallas:

Brock Boeser

By almost any measure, it’s been a terrific season for Boeser. He leads the team in goals (37) and power play goals (15), but has not scored a goal with the man-advantage in the team’s 11 games this month. That fact is as much an indictment of those around the player than it is of Boeser himself. Through his career, Boeser has not been a creator on his own. He’s at his best when working in concert with others who can get him the puck in scoring areas. In a season in which Boeser has established himself as a strong net front presence, it’s remarkable and somewhat surprising that he hasn’t been able to tip a shot, bang home a rebound or collect some loose change lying in the blue paint. But that speaks to the fact the Canucks are having trouble getting pucks to the net in the first place.On Thursday against Dallas, the Canucks had just four shots on goal in six minutes of power play time. They need to do a better job of funnelling pucks to the net front so that Boeser can do what he’s done for much of the season. His last power play goal came in a 5-1 loss to the LA Kings on February 29th. A resurgent Boeser could hold the key to what ails the Canucks power play of late. But he needs the puck in the right places to make that happen.

Filip Hronek

Filip Hronek doesn’t have a point on the team’s eight-game homestand. Despite being second on the club in ice time, Hronek hasn’t managed to produce a single point. In fact, he’s actually gone 10 games now without finding the scoresheet since collecting a second assist on a Nils Höglander goal to open the scoring in Anaheim on March 3rd. At a time when every move he makes is being measured against his demands on a sizeable contract extension, Hronek isn’t boosting his value with offensive contributions this month. For a player billed as having a booming shot (and NHL Edge data backs up that claim), he doesn’t use it often enough and it doesn’t lead to much in the offensive end. Hronek has just 13 shots on goal in eight games on the homestand. You’d think his heavy shot would occasionally beat goalies cleanly, but more than that you’d expect goalies to struggle to handle his slap shot cleanly leading to rebounds for others to pounce on. But that doesn’t seem to be happening either. It’s crunch time for the Canucks and for a player that sees as much as ice as Hronek does, it’s fair to expect more than the occasional offensive contribution. The team’s season and his next contract are hanging in the balance.

Ilya Mikheyev

So much for the hope that Mikheyev’s goal early in the first period against Colorado on March 13th would be the start of a run of overdue offence. He has not managed to score in the six games since and now – quite shockingly – has just one goal in his last 41 games. Yes, Mikheyev is on a two-goal pace over the last half season. A week ago, the Russian winger looked to have had an awakening using his size effectively in the offensive end, holding on to pucks and trying to create for his teammates. He even displayed the occasional burst of speed that made it look like he might be able to be an effective player for this team come playoff time. Against Dallas, he played just 10:33 and had one shot on goal – his only attempt of an otherwise quiet night — a harmless wrist shot off the rush in the second period that could not have possibly hit the logo on Jake Oettinger’s jersey any more squarely than it did. It’s feeling once again like it’s fair to ask what, exactly, it is that Ilya Mikheyev brings to the mix and what can possibly be expected to change come playoff time?

Casey DeSmith

DeSmith did not allow a five-on-five goal in the 3-1 loss to the Stars. He’s given the Canucks a chance to win every game since taking over from Thatcher Demko. And he can’t be expected to score goals or be blamed for the team’s power play woes. Maybe it’s too much to expect the back-up goalie to steal a game or two, but the three wins for DeSmith on the homestand have come against Calgary, Buffalo and Montreal. The four losses have come against Washington, Los Angeles, Dallas and Colorado (in overtime). The wins have all come against non-playoff teams. The losses have all come against teams currently above the playoff bar. In fact, DeSmith has not posted a win against a team currently in a playoff spot since he and the Canucks defeated Nashville in the week leading up to Christmas. If the team in front of him scored even a handful of goals more, this likely isn’t an issue. But if the Canucks are going to finish first in the Pacific Division, they’re going to have to beat teams like Vegas, Los Angeles and Edmonton. With Thatcher Demko definitely out through the end of next week and possibly longer, DeSmith is simply going to have come up with a signature win or two to keep this team at the top of the division.

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