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Vancouver Canucks’ 3 stars of the week: Teddy Blueger continues to exceed expectations

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Photo credit:© Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
Dave Hall
4 months ago
It’s time for Vancouver Canucks fans to take a break from the rollercoaster and enjoy a well-deserved day off.
After three up-and-down games, it’s natural to feel a little run-down.
This club continues to showcase their remarkable ability to undergo dramatic shifts, not just from game to game, but period to period. Their ability to play their best period of the season, only to execute a complete 180-degree turn and deliver an egg over the next 20 minutes is truly remarkable.
This week followed a similar pattern, but despite those ebbs and flows, the Canucks managed to pull off a 2-0-1 record, continuing their league domination and reinstating their position at the top of the standings — third by winning percentage (0.717%).
You see, that’s the other remarkable thing about this team. Resilience. Even during periods of struggle, they find it within to pick themselves up and regroup, often turning the match in their favour by the final buzzer.
In the past, well, those were immediate losses.
Thanks to that resilience, Moneypuck.com currently gives the Canucks a 99.9% chance of making the playoffs and an 8.7% chance of winning the Stanley Cup.
While those numbers may get your excitement running high, Kevin Bieksa’s wise words during Saturday’s Hockey Day in Canada telecast are a good reminder to sit back and enjoy the ride.
It’s not a “cup or bust” situation.
The team is performing admirably—scoring plentiful goals, delivering thrilling games nightly, and, most importantly, winning hockey games. Enjoy it.
Turning our focus to the three stars of the week, we faced some decisions. Last week’s spotlight was on the Elias Pettersson, J.T. Miller, and Brock Boeser line, who ran amok in the NHL for a solid five-game span. While they combined for another nine points this week, their game lacked that jump from prior and production-wise, primarily produced on the man advantage.
With that, we shift our attention to the secondary scoring.
Third Star: Nils Höglander
Nils Höglander earns this week’s third star, primarily for his pivotal contribution to Saturday night’s victory.
In a thrilling battle against the Toronto Maple Leafs, Höglander ignited the scoreboard with two crucial goals in the opening frame, leading to a pair of goals and a plus-two rating in just 10:50 of ice time.
These two tallies mark a career-high for him, surpassing the 13 he achieved in his impressive rookie campaign.
Beyond the goals, credit is due to the incredible work ethic and determination displayed, especially on the first goal. He, along with his linemates, dominated an entire shift before fighting at the netfront to bang in the first of the night. He certainly earned the game’s “Digger Award.”
This tenacity is nothing new and has been a consistent feature of Höglander’s play. While not fully entrenched in head coach Rick Tocchet’s trust this season, his relentless work hasn’t gone unnoticed.
“I’ve liked Högggy’s game,” Tocchet said. “He [Höglander] is spending a lot of time in the video room, and he’s working at practice a lot. He’s getting rewarded for his hard work.”
Though not matching the point-per-game pace of his debut season (40), he’s on track for an overall improved performance in various metrics and is trending toward his first ‘plus’ season (plus/minus).
He’s doing so while averaging just 11:06 of ice time, sitting sixth on the team in points/60 minutes, earning 2.6.
In contrast, during his standout rookie year, he averaged 15:27 of ice time and was enjoying much more power play time to his incredibly slim usage this season.
Perhaps it’s time to see the Hög back in the top six soon…
Second Star: Conor Garland
On pace for 43 points, Conor Garland might not be on track for career highs (65 points), but boy, does it ever feel like a career year.
Once labelled as overpaid and underperforming, Garland has made a remarkable comeback, shouldering chunks of this team’s secondary production this season.
Consistently driving the team forward on a nightly basis, Garland, alongside linemates Dakota Joshua and Teddy Blueger, has become a pivotal force and trio that you can rely on to step up when needed.
“He’s had a hell of a year for us, [I am] really proud of that guy,” Tocchet commended recently. “He’s done a great job.”
Despite the line remaining nameless, their impact is unmistakable.
Garland’s contributions this week included three goals and four points, including a pivotal two-goal performance in a thrilling Saturday matchup against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Perhaps most significantly, it was the timing of his second goal. As the team surrendered a three-goal lead, all in a collapsed second period, Garland stepped up, delivering a crucial goal in the dying minute to regain momentum.
We’ve said it before, but Conor Garland’s celebrations just hit a little differently.
First Star: Teddy Blueger
The Canucks’ addition of Teddy Blueger in the off-season was seen as a positive move, aimed to bring stability to the bottom six and bolster their struggling penalty-killing unit.
However, despite missing some time with injury, it’s safe to say that the Latvian centre has far exceeded expectations. Blueger has not only fulfilled all his expected roles but has also tossed in a career-best scoring pace to boot.
With five goals and 21 points, he’s on pace for a 45-point season, which would shatter his previous high by 17 points.
This week, he added another four points to that ledger, including three primary assists.
It began on Monday when he executed a tremendous no-look feed to Conor Garland, adding to the line’s outstanding 43-point performance in a 16-game stretch.
A relentless forecheck, followed by a determined dig, followed by a swift feed to the slot, concluding with a goal. This sequence essentially epitomizes the impressive work that this “no-name” line has showcased over the last few weeks.
At what point do we consider this line to be in the “top six”?
The Canucks continue their home stand, hosting three games this week, starting the Connor Bedard-less Chicago Blackhawks on Monday night.
See you next week.
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