Vancouver Canucks’ 3 stars of the week: Thatcher Demko runs perfect, Quinn Hughes ties club record, and Nils Höglander hits 20 goals

Photo credit:Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
Dave Hall
1 month ago
Take a good look, folks. This here is the finalized roster of the 2023-24 Vancouver Canucks roster.
The trade deadline has come and gone, and the club stood pat, confident with their moves made well ahead of the feeding frenzy.
Patrik Allvin admitted to being in discussions with nearly every coveted name dangled at the deadline. Ultimately feeling comfortable with the team’s performance and the new faces brought in over the last few months.
It’s hard to argue with that logic, really.
Here we are, two weeks into March, and the Canucks sit atop the Western Conference, just one point back of the entire league.
Credit where it’s due. The allure of bolstering the roster with shiny additions must have been tempting. However, it’s understandable why the club balked at the price tags.
After years of squandering assets on pieces that never quite fit, it was reassuring to see this management group prioritize the preservation of valuable assets, such as Tom Willander and Jonathan Lekkerimäki, or the budding names like Vasily Podkolzin and today’s third star, Nils Höglander.
Reviewing the week at hand, the Canucks returned to their winning ways, notching victories in all three games and extending their winning streak to four games with triumphs over the Los Angeles Kings, Vegas Golden Knights, and Winnipeg Jets.
Elias Pettersson brought his game to life, grabbing four points to earn this week’s honourable mention.
Additionally, Phil Di Giuseppe made his mark by finding the back of the net not once but twice, ending a 29-game scoring drought.

Third star: Nils Höglander

Jake Guentzel, Tyler Toffoli, Jason Zucker…These are just a few of the names that swirled around the Canucks at the trade deadline, and in almost every case, Nils Höglander was the rumoured return piece.
While these big-name acquisitions tempted many, Höglander stepped up this week to prove that he can bring so much more to the table than any of those other names could.
What’s not to love? This kid has worked his way up from a demotion to Abbotsford back into Vancouver’s top six, flourishing alongside Elias Pettersson.
In three games, he cashed in for a goal and three assists–all were primary assists–and officially became a 20-goal scorer for the first time in his NHL career.
Even more impressively, all 20 of his goals have come at even strength. As of Saturday, he ranks second among all NHL skaters in 5v5 goals-per-60.
The Vancouver Canucks out-chanced their opponents 44-28 with Höglander on the ice and finished with a 61.11 CF% for the week. Since February 1st, he ranks seventh among all forwards with ten games or more, boasting a 59.80 CF% at 5v5.
He heads into next week sporting a four-game point streak (five points) and has six points over his last five games.
Heck, even Rick Tocchet has come around and given the kid praise.
“He’s been terrific for us energy-wise.” Tocchet told postmedia. “He’s that guy. He will ignite the team sometimes, and he’s got 20 goals.”

Second star: Quinn Hughes

Where do we start?
Let’s kick this off with the obvious statistics. Quinn Hughes led the charge for the Canucks with five points this week, notching his 13th goal to go with three assists. His five points bumped him to 76 points on the season, matching his 2022–23 totals with 16 games to go.
Leading all defenders in scoring, he’s now on pace to hit 94 points on the season. When he inevitably gets his next point, Hughes will have officially passed the club record he set for the Canucks’ highest single-season points total by a defenceman. Anything above 76 is simply setting a new precedent.
You could tell it would be a big week for Hughes when he made a move like this on his first assist of the week just a minute and a half into the club’s game against Anaheim.
His goal was also a rocket from the point.
Under the hood, you get a true taste of how dominant he was this week.
His Corsi For Percentage (CF%) of 68.79% ranked fifth among all skaters who played three games, the lead among all defenders.
His Expected Goals For Percentage (xGF%) of 82.53% topped the entire NHL among players with three games, with the nearest defender, Erik Karlsson, boasting a 75.39% over the same span.
When Hughes was on the ice, the chances were heavily skewed in Vancouver’s favour, 108-49. Similarly, scoring chances favoured the Canucks 54-17 with Hughes on the ice at 5-on-5.
And we can’t not mention the impressive 7-1 goal differential with Hughes on the ice this past week.
All in all, the captain’s performance was outright dominant, adding to his already elite resume.

First star: Thatcher Demko

Out of the eight goaltenders who saw three starts this week, only one managed to secure wins in all three.
Thatcher Demko stood out in several categories this week, not just recording consecutive wins, but also allowing just two goals in that span. The next best among those with three starts allowed six goals.
With that in mind, Demko led all netminders with two or more starts by save percentage (0.969) and was just one of two goalies to keep their GAA below 1.00 (.810).
All three wins came against playoff-contending teams, one of them being the Central Division’s Winnipeg Jets, who sit six points back of the Canucks in the Western Conference standings.
Okay, there is one caveat: the impressive performance over a heavy workload came at a steep price, as he left his final game early with an undisclosed injury.
Despite only making 12 saves, he picked up the victory as the Canucks dominated for the remainder of the game, giving Demko the lion’s share of the final saves.
Both Demko and Casey DeSmith picked up a “shared shutout” against the Jets, with 12 and 10 saves, respectively. While this doesn’t account for anything on the scoresheet—because the NHL hates fun—it does give them both some bragging rights.
They are now just the third tandem in franchise history to pick up a “club shutout.”
The Canucks’ schedule eases up over the next few weeks as they continue a nine-game homestand.
Their biggest test comes Wednesday when they host the outrageously overhauled and improved Colorado Avalanche.
Three days’ rest off after three straight wins against top-flight Western Conference teams will help the club in its shot at redemption against the Avs, who have dominated the season series thus far.
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