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Monday Mailbag: A magic wand for the Canucks’ defence, Kyle Burroughs getting into the lineup, and Danila Klimovich’s hot six-game stretch

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Photo credit:Matthew Henderson
Faber
By Faber
1 month ago
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Things were trending upwards for the Vancouver Canucks in a week that saw a pair of Elias Pettersson overtime-winning goals since the last time we all came together for a Monday Mailbag. Even with the excitement of 13 total goals on the week, Saturday’s no-show against the Minnesota Wild — a non-bottom-feeder team — was a good smack in the face to remind everyone what this Canucks team likely is.
Defensively, the Canucks are a bottom-five team in the NHL and though they have offensive firepower to battle against some of the weaker teams in the league, and even win occasionally against some of the top-end teams — they are simply not consistent enough with the current make-up of their roster.
Here are some eye-opening defensive rate numbers about the Canucks’ defence at five-on-five.
28th in goals against.
29th in expected goals against.
29th in shots against.
25th in scoring chances against.
29th in high-danger shot attempts against.
32nd in high-danger goals against.
All the while, they have a near-even PDO of 0.999. PDO is a simple metric that combines shooting percentage with save percentage to see if the hockey gods love or hate you. Right now, the hockey gods aren’t even paying attention to what’s going on with the Vancouver Canucks.
Each of the four teams who are worse than the Canucks in terms of goals against has a lower PDO and should see some sort of regression in terms of their weaker goaltending and shooting percentage.
Now that all the depressing defensive mumbo jumbo is out of the way, let’s see what the great people of Canucks Twitter had to ask this week as we dive into this week’s mailbag!
More than likely, yes.
If the Canucks had an above-average defence corps, my money would be on them being a playoff team.
There still needs to be better play from the forwards in terms of their commitment to the defensive zone and a massive correction on their offensive zone mistakes that result in fast-break scoring chances for the opposition — but if the defence was better and the team could get the puck to their forwards in a more effective manner, I believe this team could be a playoff group with their current forward group.
This group could very easily have five double-digit scorers by Christmas. The power play works at a tremendous rate and the forwards aren’t the main problem. The mistakes from the forwards can be looked at as a big problem, sure, but overall as a group when only looking at the guys up front, they should be a playoff team.
Let’s just hope that someone in the Canucks’ front office can find that magic wand that you’re talking about.

PRESENTED BY BETWAY

 
The 19-year-old is playing really good hockey right now in the AHL.
He’s much more engaged defensively over the past six games and his offensive numbers have benefited from the effort as he has six points in as many games.
I’m not saying it’s entirely because of Vasily Podkolzin’s presence, but Klimovich has been a treat to watch over the past two weeks. You’re seeing his emotions be managed much better and if he continues to play like this, there could be some top-six work on the horizon.
We reached out to his agent, Dan Milstein who reminded us about the plan that he and the organization talked about. He laughed when we said, “well, it seems like the plan is working.”
The key thing here for Klimovich is building on what he’s done over the past two weeks. There are still likely to be healthy scratches, in-game benchings, and limited time on the power play. It’s going to be about how he reacts to that and doesn’t take any steps back. This kid is so young and his development needs to be looked at like a pyramid. Right now, you are building the baseline of effort and controlling his emotions, this is the base layer and it’s the hardest but also most important part to construct.
From there, you can bring in the middle layer of understanding play and knowing how important defence is. Then, finally, the pyramidion would be his offensive skills. Klimovich clearly has the shot of an NHLer but he won’t be able to show that unless he builds the rest of his game up first. Lowkey, the playmaking is damn impressive at times as well and we hope he can continue to build the weaker parts of his game up enough to have the conversation of him being an NHL option one day.
To answer your question, Klimovich’s potential is still high but is going to take fine tuning to achieve it.
I think he most likely becomes a player that you wished could figure out his game because he has such impressive offensive skills. His ceiling is a middle-six scorer but there’s still so much work to do to get him there. Luckily, he is still just 19 years old.
The last two weeks have been very promising for the youngster. Let’s see if he can build off of them.
It’s still very early but right now, there isn’t really another right-shot defenceman who will challenge Cam Allen to be the top RD in the draft.
You could maybe look at Axel Sandin Pellikka out of Sweden. ASP has a pair of SHL goals now, and that’s certainly impressive for a 17-year-old. His SHL team Skellefteå is 12-1-1 with ASP in the lineup, which is wild as their season record without him is 6-5-2.
Allen is probably projected in the 7-12 range for me right now. He could be someone who falls the the Canucks if they end up finishing the season out of the top of this draft and somewhere in the mushy middle of the NHL standings.
It’ll be interesting to see where ASP ends up going in the draft. This year is not great for defencemen in general though.
Allen is likely the top RD in the draft right now.
After Saturday night’s effort, this next game sure seems like a good time for him to draw back into the lineup.
Then again, most nights feel like a good night for him to draw into the lineup.
If you’re looking for an idea on why he is out of the lineup, the first would be that he is currently fourth on the depth chart when it comes to right-shot defencemen. Luke Schenn, Tyler Myers, and Ethan Bear are all ahead of him and the team was winning games with that trio of right-shot defencemen.
Still, Burroughs brings a consistent effort and has the ability to play the left side as well. When you watch Riley Stillman or Oliver Ekman-Larsson make tremendously poor turnovers, you just wonder if Burroughs would be making similar mental mistakes.
Burroughs’ game is what it is, he’s not going to fight for a top-four spot in your defence corps, but he is going to consistently bring effort, a level of care like no other, and be a great team-first teammate.
Bruce Boudreau likes Burroughs as the team’s seventh defenceman and Burroughs is just happy to be in the NHL. Both sides publicly don’t have a lot to say about more games for Burroughs but the fanbase is clear with their thoughts on seeing more of the local kid.
He will continue to work in practice and continue to play his game when he gets into the lineup. Hopefully, we see him more but I’m not confident unless there is a true change in how this defence is deployed. With Travis Dermott eventually returning to game action, it gets even harder to see how Burroughs will be able to get into the lineup.
That wraps up our Monday Mailbag here at CanucksArmy. Be sure to keep an eye out for the call for questions and thanks to everyone who sent in a question this week.

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