Photo credit:© Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
Paterson’s Point: Even on his ‘quiet’ nights, Canucks captain Quinn Hughes amazes
24 days ago
As they have been all season for the Vancouver Canucks, storylines were endless on Saturday night. Brock Boeser recorded his third hattrick of the season and reached the 30-goal mark for the first time in his National Hockey League career. Elias Pettersson scored twice and capped an incredible comeback with the overtime winner. The Canucks were dreadful in the second period but a resurgent power play allowed them to claw their way back onto even terms with Columbus scoring three times in the third period to erase a 4-1 deficit.
And quietly – or as quietly as one can while picking up three assists and logging more than 29 minutes and his third highest-ice time of the season – Quinn Hughes flashed his brilliance yet again. Is it possible this market takes the 24-year-old for granted at times? Or is it simply a case of Hughes being so consistently incredible for this hockey club racking up three more points, playing 2:59 of the four minutes of overtime after logging 26:21 through three periods and having his fingerprints all over the team’s 33rd win of the season, that performances like this one are so commonplace now they are no longer seen as extraordinary? Not that he’ll lose any sleep over it, but the captain’s effort on Saturday didn’t even warrant a three star selection from Hockey Night In Canada. He was really, really good by most standards, but apparently merely average when graded against his own magnificence. That’s the baseline Quinn Hughes has established.
Hughes just rattled off 10 points on the Canucks five-game homestand bringing him to 12 goals and 62 points at the All Star break. After a brief slowdown at the tail end of the Canucks recent seven-game road trip where Hughes managed just a single point over the final three games, he returned with a vengeance with three-point efforts on consecutive Saturday nights first against Toronto and then against Columbus.
He is on pace for 104 points which would obliterate the club record of 76 he established last season. And, as a game-changer that tilts the ice in the Canucks favour almost every night out, he’s doing it on one of the best value contracts in the National Hockey League at $7.85 million this season and for three more years to come.
With Hughes on the ice this season, the Canucks have outscored opponents in all situations by a staggering 112-47 and at 5-on-5 by a 64-33 margin.
He is their Superman. His levelling up from one of the best to arguably the best defenceman in the NHL this season is perhaps the single biggest reason for the team’s position at the top of the standings at the break.
And yet it almost feels like his heroics are glossed over in this market. Oh, Hughes had another big night? That’s nice. How about this terrible weather?
It’s hard to put into words the things he has accomplished in his young career, but try this on for size: in the past 25 years, the Canucks have had one other defenceman reach 50 points (Christian Ehrhoff finished with 50 in the 2010-11 season). Hughes has already accomplished the feat four times and on Saturday night he reached 50 assists in just 49 games this season. He’s got as many helpers as any other defenceman has had points for the Canucks in the past quarter century. And he still has 33 games to play this season. He’s simply on another level.
Hughes will spend the next few days at the family home in Michigan before joining his fellow All Stars in Toronto next weekend. It’s a well deserved opportunity for some rest and relaxation before the stretch run and the playoffs.
The prospect of a refreshed Quinn Hughes should be a welcome thought for the Canucks and their fans and a terrifying notion for opponents.
It has been an incredible season to this point and the Canucks have had so many remarkable individual efforts. Hopefully people aren’t being distracted by the many shiny objects and are placing their focus where it ought to be – on what is easily one of the singularly greatest seasons in franchise history. And the best part is that there is still so much more to come. These are truly special times and this is without question a special player. Saturday was the ninth time in 49 games this season that Quinn Hughes has produced three (or more) points in a game. Nine freaking times in the team’s first 49 games. And somehow this one was considered just another night at the office.
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