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Vancouver Canucks’ 3 stars of the week: The Elias Pettersson, Nils Höglander and Conor Garland trio lead the way to victory

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Photo credit:© Simon Fearn-USA TODAY Sports
Dave Hall
3 months ago
There’s nothing wrong with falling; just make sure to pick yourself back up. And that’s precisely what the Vancouver Canucks did this week.
After dropping both games in our last three-star installment, the club bounced back with a sweep, securing wins in all three matchups and improving to 7-2-1 over their previous 10 games.
With 71 games in the books, they haven’t quite clinched a playoff spot, but they’re close. Assuming they get a bit of help, they could have a shot at doing so on Monday when they host the Los Angeles Kings.
Casey DeSmith has stepped up admirably to fill the massive shoes left by Thatcher Demko, backstopping all three wins this week. Of course, the Canucks’ recent defensive game certainly aided in that success. DeSmith’s top performance came on Saturday, where he made 22 saves, but he was forced to make just 16 and 15 saves, respectively, in his previous two starts earlier in the week.
He was good, but the team’s defence was great, which is why DeSmith falls just short of a selection this week.
Last week, we highlighted the full line of J.T. Miller, Brock Boeser, and Ilya Mikheyev in our three-star selection. This week, we’re doubling down on the full-line theme, but this time, we are focusing on the other half of the team’s top six.

Third star: Conor Garland

Conor Garland kicked off the week’s scoring with his 14th goal early in the opening period against the Buffalo Sabres, courtesy of a typical Garland dig.
He added another goal versus the Montreal Canadiens and wrapped up with two assists against the Calgary Flames on Saturday night, finishing second on the team with four points by week’s end.
Since Garland’s ice time on the power play is somewhat limited, we will focus on his impact at even strength this week. He finished second among forwards in Corsi with a 58.21%. He was one of just six players to play all games during the week without conceding a goal at 5v5.
With 15 goals and 36 points, it may not be a career year statistically, but he’s already provided the most blocked shots in his career with 31. Garland is tracking to put up his best plus/minus rating and is on pace for his fifth consecutive 40-plus point camping despite offering one of his worst shooting percentages to date (9.3%).
Dubbed the team’s “Toyota Corolla” by our own Wyatt Arndt, Garland consistently gets the job done. Elias Pettersson had hit a rough patch in recent weeks and was in desperate need of a spark. What does Rick Tocchet do? He adds Garland, and suddenly, things happen. Coincidence?

Second star: Nils Höglander

His linemate, Conor Garland, may have finished second among forwards in 5v5 CF%, but Nils Höglander led the group with an impressive 64.38% CF% for the week, second only to Quinn Hughes. Impressively, his number peaked at an incredible 85.71% against the Montreal Canadiens.
Sure, he contributed just two points, both of which were highlight-reel goals. Höglander earned his spot as this week’s second star because he was a factor in all three victories. Heck, he finished second on the team in hits with 11.
His remarkable story grows as he continues to prove the anti-top-six narrative pushers wrong and now sports a career-high 22 goals, all scored at even strength. Despite averaging just 11:45 per night, he leads the entire league in goals among players with an average ice time of 15 minutes or less. Jake Neighbours comes closest with 25 goals while averaging 15:33 per game.
Both of Höglander’s goals this week came in the final game, with the first stemming from a beautiful cross-ice tic-tac-toe play from the trio just 48 seconds into the game.
The second goal, however, was all Nils. The young Swede outmaneuvered his fellow countryman, Jacob Markstrom, to score one of the prettiest goals of the season.
The goal even earned attention from EP40 himself.
With just 11 games remaining, Höglander is now just three goals away from hitting the coveted 25-goal mark, which begs the question: Was Patrik Allvin’s best trade deadline move simply sticking with this kid?

First star: Elias Pettersson

Elias Pettersson has been playing “red light, green light” all year when it comes to his production and overall effort level.
This week, he was definitely running on green.
Perhaps it was Daniel Wagner’s motivational words that ignited something within him. Maybe it wasn’t.
Whatever the reason, it proved effective as Pettersson led the charge with two goals and three assists, two of which were primary assists.
You know it’s a good week when your empty net goal is even an impressive one…
When Pettersson is on his game, he’s one of the most electrifying players in the league, and this week was no exception. He not only topped the team in point totals but also finished just behind Höglander in all situations Corsi with 64.12%, consistently outplaying his opponents with an 84-47 advantage in chances.
Additionally, he dominated the scoring. Pettersson outscored his opponents by a wide margin of 50-17, leading the team with an 81.55% expected goals for percentage (xGF%) and 25-5 high-danger chances.
He even got into the dirty stuff, recording seven hits and three blocked shots.
With his five points, he now sits tied with Don Lever for 12th in all-time scoring in Canucks history, just two points behind Alex Edler for 11th place.
The Canucks will close out their long-winded home stand, hosting the Kings, Dallas Stars and Anaheim Ducks this week.
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