Vancouver Canucks’ 3 stars of the week: Casey DeSmith secures two East Coast wins

Photo credit:© Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports
Dave Hall
7 months ago
You just know it’s one of those storybook seasons when playing mediocre hockey still results in two out of three road victories and a 3-1-0 work week.
Let’s face it, this wasn’t the most glamorous stretch of hockey we’ve seen from this group, but the team continues to secure wins one way or another.
The buzzword of the week was “PDO”, and the Canucks’ number this week (1.065) was once again the league’s second-highest over four games.
But, at the end of the day, do we care? The bottom line is that the team is winning, and you know what? Perhaps this team deserves some of that luck.
Let’s recap where things are as of Monday morning.
Call it luck, but they continue to maintain dominance in league statistics such as goal differential, standing at an impressive plus-33, seven ahead of the Vegas Golden Knights. They lead the league in even-strength goals (46) and rank second in power play tallies (18), while also sitting fourth best in goals allowed (33).
Elias Pettersson leads the league in scoring (25), with Quinn Hughes and J.T Miller, sharing a tie for second (23) and Filip Hronek finds himself on a 10-game point streak.
To top it off, they carry an 11-3-1 record, placing them third in the league, just two points shy of first.
High PDO or not, this team is rolling.
While the usual suspects contributed solid point totals, it was the secondary output that our caught attention this week.
The line of Pius Suter, Dakota Joshua, and Conor Garland emerged as one of the team’s most effective trios, at least over the weekend.
On Sunday, versus the Montreal Canadiens: 78.26 (CF%) and 95.11 (xGF) at 5v5.
On Saturday, versus the Toronto Maple Leafs: 87.50 (CF%) and 85.81 (xGF%) at 5v5
Suter continues to put up goals, with four in his last six. Joshua has accumulated four points in five games, and Garland finally broke out with a two-point effort on Sunday.
All three were contributing in all facets, and we are going to break the rules a little bit here and give the line, as a whole, an honourable mention of the week.
In times when the stars take a night off, it’s essential to have a bottom half that picks up the slack, and this week, they certainly did just that.

Third star: Quinn Hughes

Quinn Hughes. Case in point.
I mean, what more is there to say? The 24-year-old defenceman continues to serve up incredible weeks.
Now, this past weekend may have been his worst of the year, and yet, he continues to produce points, and more importantly, eat up heavy minutes.
To be fair, Saturday’s loss to the Maple Leafs was an egg for most, so we’ll call that one a wash. Over a four-game period, Hughes still contributed seamlessly and when you are racking up points like this as a defender in the NHL, it’s hard not to hand over a star nomination.
He added another seven points (1G + 6A) to his impressive tally, jumping up to second place in league scoring, just two behind Elias Pettersson.
His point totals are starting to get out of hand, and each week, he seems to find himself in the conversation with new high-profile names.
This week, it is legends like Bobby Orr, Paul Coffey, Dennis Potvin, and Al MacInnis, as his point total of 23 ranks fifth among all-time defencemen within the 15-game mark.
Hughes is currently on pace for 27 goals and 125 points.

Second star: J.T Miller

J.T. Miller continues to embody consistency this season, steadily climbing up the leaderboard and making his presence felt all over the ice.
He led the charge among forwards with seven points (3G + 4A) in four games and has now tied Quinn Hughes for second place in league scoring with 23 points.
Over the year, he sits second on the team in hits (34), leads the forward group in blocked shots (9), leads the team in takeaways (8) and is having a strong season in the face-off dot, going 55.73%.
It wasn’t long ago that most had questioned his contract extension, but now, it feels like the team wouldn’t be the same without his presence in nearly every facet of the game.
His game appears to have evolved in the best possible way.
The undesirable turnovers are much less common, his defensive efforts have significantly improved, and he effectively channels his intensity to get under his opponent’s skin.
Something in his game has clicked, and I have a feeling that Rick Tocchet may play a huge role in that department…

First star: Casey DeSmith

It’s time to give Casey DeSmith the recognition he deserves. While Thatcher Demko has rightfully taken the spotlight, the newcomer (DeSmith) has been a breath of fresh air as a formidable backup option.
The Canucks felt confident in starting him in two of three games on an Eastern road trip and despite some unsteady hockey in front of him, he grabbed victories in both, stopping 62 of 66 shots combined.
Being able to comfortably roll with your backup in a condensed schedule is a huge recipe for success in this league.
Well, DeSmith has not only earned the confidence to get starts but has been picking up the two points, regardless of the opponent.
He’s now grabbed wins against the following list of teams:
Montreal Canadiens, Florida Panthers, Edmonton Oilers, Ottawa Senators and was solid in a 4-3 overtime loss to the New York Rangers.
That isn’t an easy slate, but he’s been up to the task each time.
Despite the small sample size, his 4-0-1 record, 2.48 GAA, and 0.922 save percentage make him not only one of the better backup options but one of the standout netminders among the entire NHL this season.
After a hectic week, the Canucks get a short break as they return home to host Bo Horvat and the New York Islanders.
After the single home game, they will set back out on a three-game road trip to take on a few Pacific Division foes.
See you next week!
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