The Tape: Analyzing Elias Lindholm’s first week as a Vancouver Canuck

Photo credit:© James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports
Tyson Cole
5 months ago
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The Elias Lindholm trade is now nearly two weeks old, and with four games under his belt, let’s analyze the tape and look into how his first week as a Vancouver Canucks went.

Game One: Carolina Hurricanes

In his first game as a Canuck, Lindholm played on the top line with Elias Pettersson and Ilya Mikheyev. On his first shift, whether he was throwing a hit, absorbing a hit or positioning in front of the net, you can tell he’s brought the physical part of his game back early.
It wasn’t until the end of the first period on the Canucks’ second powerplay opportunity that Lindholm made his mark on this game. 
At the start of the video, you can see an emphasis on establishing Lindholm’s net-front presence as Boeser takes a floater towards the far side in an attempt to set up a Lindholm tip. Later that play, the Hurricanes put heavy pressure up high, leaving Lindholm all alone in front of the net. All Quinn Hughes has to do now is get the puck through traffic — and he does just that. Lindholm tips it perfectly behind Pyotr Kochetkov, tying the game at one. 
Playing in a supportive role, Lindholm picks up the puck after a Nikita Zadorov board battle. Instead of ringing the puck around the boards for Pettersson to pick up on the far wing, he successfully attempts a spinning deke to avoid Tuevo Teravainen. In doing so, he runs into Sebastian Aho and nearly turns the puck over in front of the net. 
That stuff is hockey school 101. Never carry the puck in front of your own net. Luckily for Lindholm, the Canucks end up clearing the zone. 
Back to the powerplay for Lindholm and the Canucks. Winning back the right-hand side draw, Lindholm positions himself in the faceoff dot, relieving Pettersson of the pressure in the corner. J.T. Miller looks for the bumper pass along the low side, but with the Hurricanes blocking the passing lane, Miller has to send it to Hughes at the point instead. On the second attempt at finding a tip in front, they convert with the second of the game for Lindholm.
Pettersson had previously spoken about how beneficial it was to his game to have another centreman on his line, and this clip shows exactly why. Pettersson is chasing the puck carrier and knows he has backup with Lindholm, who falls back to the proper defensive centre positioning in the high slot.
Elias Lindholm would have three shifts in the final 4:15 minutes of the game — playing 2:36 minutes of ice time, including the final 30 seconds to close out the game. This shows the enormous amount of trust that head coach Rick Tocchet has in his new centreman.

Game Two: Boston Bruins

Well, Canucks fans know all too well with how this game went.
It doesn’t start off hot for Lindholm, as he gets caught puck-watching. Charlie Coyle glides along the boards, retrieving the failed Thatcher Demko pass and giving him way too much time to find Brad Marchand for the opening goal. 
Granted, both Pettersson and Miller should have been able to get their stick in the lane, but it’s important to point out Lindholm’s flaw in this play as well.
I watched all 19 of Lindholm’s shifts from this game, and there was not much to analyze here. The game was out of reach from seemingly the opening goal. Lindholm rarely possessed the puck, finishing without a shot attempt for only the second time this season with a -4 rating and a season-low 14:11 minutes of ice time. 
His defensive game was alright, but not a real substantial play that caught the eye of any hockey observer. Let’s erase this game from the memory bank and move on to Detroit.

Game Three: Detroit Red Wings

After the embarrassing loss to the Canucks’ bitter rivals, Tocchet decided to switch up the lines — putting Lindholm in the middle of J.T. Miller and Brock Boeser. 
On his first shift of the game, Lindholm shows his defensive responsibilities by covering the point for a pinching Filip Hronek. Lindholm was the first man back to recover the dump-in and used his body to box out the opposing forechecker. He then makes the smart pass to Miller, who clears the zone. 
After a successful cycle from the Lindholm line, Hughes dumps the puck behind the net. And while this play may be illegal, Lindholm looks to have set a pick, leaving Miller with wide open space, finding Hughes at the point, resulting in a high-danger shot from Hronek.
The right-hand faceoff ability of Lindholm shows its importance here with a win to start the powerplay. After a few passes, Lindholm finds himself with an open look in the lower bumper spot (which I highlighted in a previous The Tape series), where Boeser has found success this season. 
Here is a prime example of Lindholm’s all-around game. He picks up the loose puck on the penalty kill, leads an odd-man rush and finds the open man, Tyler Myers, for a quality scoring chance. Lindholm shows his on-ice awareness — noticing his defenceman pinched, he immediately starts his back check that takes the passing option completely out of the play. 
This is one of two criticisms I have thus far for Lindholm’s penalty-killing play. Robby Fabbri receives the pass along the half wall, and instead of pressuring the puck carrier, Lindholm decides to cover the passing lane — allowing Fabbri a clear lane to a scoring chance. 
The second criticism comes after a shot block where both Canucks defencemen go behind the net. This itself is a big no-no, but in the event it does happen, it’s Lindholm’s responsibility as the centreman to cover the front of the net. By the time Lindholm gets to the position and puts pressure on the open slot man, Daniel Sprong has already put the puck behind Casey DeSmith. 
Overtime would last just 23 seconds, and while Lindholm was held pointless, this was his best analytical outing in a Canuck uniform. 

Game Four: Washington Capitals

Tocchet must have liked what he saw from the previous game, as he kept Lindholm with Miller and Boeser. Against the Capitals, this Lindholm line was quieter than their last game together. 
On a dump-in, Lindholm bursts into the zone and chases after the defenceman behind the net. He uses his body to bump Ethan Bear off the puck and gains possession. Circling around from behind the net, Lindholm sends it to the front of the net to Conor Garland, showing how he uses his body for his playmaking ability. 
As I said, it was a quiet night for Lindholm, as it’s not until overtime that another play stands out. Carrying the puck into the zone, Lindholm drops a pass to Pius Suter. Dangling past Dylan Strome, Suter tries to find Lindholm, who opens up his stance for a prime scoring position — unfortunately, Suter was checked, and the pass never made it through. This positioning Lindholm displays would likely result in a goal, as he’s on his forehand with a wide-open net. 
While it was a slow night on the scoresheet for Lindholm, it was this game that we saw his faceoff prowess shine as he finished with an 81.82% winning percentage on his 11 draws. 
Here are the Lindholm’s stats and on-ice analytics throughout his first four games as a Vancouver Canuck.
It’s tough to say which game Lindholm performed the best. He only found the scoresheet against the Carolina Hurricanes, but analytically, he was most noticeable against the Detroit Red Wings. 
All in all, Canucks fans should be encouraged by the play of Elias Lindholm. While he can get caught up in puck-watching at times, Lindholm’s all-around defensive game is a needed asset for this team. He plays most of his time off the puck, which seemed to really fit with the style that Miller and Boeser like to play. It’s not that he can’t play well with the puck on his stick, but his positioning away from the puck and net-front presence has already shown to be very valuable. Hockey observes can see these Canuck defenders are looking for Lindholm in front of the net for potential tip-ins. 
What do you think Canucks fans? Are you happy with the play of Elias Lindholm so far? Let us know in the comments section below!
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