Scenes from Canucks practice: Canucks shake up Pettersson line and first power play unit
Photo credit:© Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
1 year ago
Coming off their most thrilling victory of the season and first home win in over 600 days, the Vancouver Canucks took the ice for practice at Rogers Arena Thursday morning.
There’s little doubt that the Canucks’ third period on Tuesday night against the Rangers was the best period of hockey they’ve played this season.
They managed to score three unanswered goals to come back from being down 2-0 after 40 minutes of play, including an overtime winner scored by J.T. Miller.
After two periods against the Rangers, the vibe in the arena was that these were the same old Canucks that fans were subjected to last season and early into this season.
There were even some boos raining down to the ice from the stands at Rogers Arena on Thursday night.
Boos before the season is even a month old? That’s not a good sign for any organization, but it’s especially not a good sign for a club that offered hope of qualifying for the playoffs to a fanbase that was left with a sour taste in its mouth after the way things went last season.
Things could have gone off the rails in a hurry, but the Canucks came out for the third period and stormed back, kicking the proverbial boo can down the road further.
A power play shake up
One thing the Canucks didn’t do well on Thursday night, however, is score on the power play.
Currently, the Canucks’ power play is clicking at a 15.79 percent success rate, which is the ninth-worst in the NHL.
Given the personnel on the Canucks’ man-advantage units, that percentage is just unacceptable.
And they know it too.
At practice on Thursday, the Canucks shook up their personnel a bit. Most notably with Conor Garland and Oliver Ekman-Larsson replacing Bo Horvat and Quinn Hughes on the first unit, respectively.
Hughes wasn’t in a talking mood today. Whether that was due to the fact he’s been taken off the first unit remains a mystery, but it’s certainly a feasible hypothesis.
In his place was Ekman-Larsson, who, all things considered, has been better than expected for the Canucks this season.
Much like nearly every other skater on the Canucks’ roster, the points haven’t been there for OEL, but he’s played well in a big role nonetheless.
“He’s been a real complete player for us,” said head coach Travis Green. “I know his point totals don’t show it, but he’s had a lot of shots that have gotten through to the net. He hasn’t played a lot of power play time yet.”
As for Garland, he’s confident in what he can bring to the first unit, and why wouldn’t he be?
“I just want to get pucks in guys’ hands and make sure they have looks,” said Garland when asked what he feels he can bring to the first unit. “Just make sure I make the right plays, don’t force anything. I’ve been on the power play my whole life, this is no different.”
Conor Garland skates with Elias Pettersson
On Thursday night, Garland took over for Brock Boeser at the right wing spot on the lotto line alongside J.T. Miller and Elias Pettersson.
Garland, who has three goals and seven assists through ten games this season, has been the Canucks’ best and most consistent forward to start the new season.
He’s incredibly shifty, dynamic, and is getting a look with Pettersson for the exact same reason he’s getting a chance on the first power play unit — to jump-start a line that has been quiet up to this point in the season.
“He brings a lot,” said Green when asked what he feels Garland can bring to his club’s top line. “He’s a smart hockey player, an offensive-minded guy. He can make plays under duress, finds people, creates.”
Brock Boeser moved to Jason Dickinson’s wing alongside Vasily Podkolzin.
Podkolzin, who is the Canucks’ leading goal scorer at five-on-five, is looking more and more comfortable with each game.
The Canucks are certainly hoping that playing with Boeser allows Podkolzin to take another step offensively, and perhaps even get Boeser going a bit as well. As it stands, the Canucks have not registered a goal at five-on-five with Boeser on the ice this season.
The Canucks are in action tomorrow night with a game against the Nashville Predators. We’ll have a full “scenes from morning skate” article published tomorrow morning.
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