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WDYTT: Do you still believe in Andrei Kuzmenko?

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Photo credit:© Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
Stephan Roget
5 months ago
Welcome back to WDYTT, the only hockey column on the internet with more technical knowhow than a local electronics store.
Speaking of Andreis, Andrei Kuzmenko picked up two assists against the Chicago Blackhawks on Monday night, including one of particularly high quality. And while it was only the Blackhawks, it was still something to celebrate, because multi-point efforts have been few and far between for the Canucks winger on the 2023/24 season.
Heck, points have been few and far between for Kuzmenko this season.
The Chicago game ended a ten-game pointless streak for Kuzmenko, his longest in what has truly been a struggle of a sophomore season.
Of course, that’s not ten straight games, because Kuzmenko was scratched along the way. In fact, the Chicago game was Kuzmenko’s fifth multi-point effort of the season, which is one less than the number of times he’s been healthy scratched.
But Kuzmenko is still less than a calendar year removed from arriving in the NHL and posting 39 goals in his first campaign on North American ice. The talent couldn’t have disappeared overnight, and every so often we get a glimpse of the 2022/23 Kuzmenko again – two assists against Chicago, two goals against the San Jose Sharks.
Is that just Kuzmenko taking advantage of the worst the league has to offer? Or is it reason for genuine hope that this is just an extended sophomore slump that will eventually end?
We don’t know. You tell us.
This week, we’re simply asking:

Do you still believe in Andrei Kuzmenko? (Specifically, as an effective part of this Vancouver Canucks team?)

Let it be known in the comment section.
 
Last week, we asked:

In the long-term, how often should the Lotto Line play together?

You answered below!
RagnarokOroboros:
When you put all your eggs in one basket, you risk breaking them.
The other teams will start to develop strategies for shutting the Lotto Line down.
Things are going well right now, but eventually the team will need a producing 1st and 2nd line. Let’s hope Allvin can make a meaningful change that results in a good second line.
sydblackwell:
For the rest of the season, barring injury, AND with the acquisition of a real second line center. As one of the writers for this site noted, Suter has handled all the roles given to him except second line center. He simply isn´t talented enough to drag the two Russians along. Several wonderful upgrades have also been suggested by writers on this site. Of course, none of those suggestions actually have to work financially, unlike the real solution that Rutherford/Allvin will find.
Prophet604:
(Winner of the author’s weekly award for eloquence)
The Lotto Line is no doubt dominant, but it’s a cheat code and other teams are hard at work going through hours of video on how to break or at least contain them.
Until we bring in some trade deadline backup, maybe it’s time to stash away our doomsday weapon until the playoffs?
We’re still cruising right now with a double-digit playoff cushion, so let’s not show our Aces until it really matters.
Harold Snepts4:
Kuzmenko needs a center. With the right centerman, he can still hit 40 goals. Remember the best defense, is a good offense.
Matt Pisko:
The Boeser, Miller, Pettersson line should be kept together until management finds a suitable piece for the second line. If it happens to be a scoring winger to replace Kuzmenko’s spot in the lineup, then Pettersson should move back to centre to have balance in the lineup. If the acquisition is a centre, then keep the line intact and use in a “break glass” scenario when you need to score a goal.
Part of the reason why they had been so dominant, is they were often paired with Hughes/Hronek on the backend. Now that they are at home, the team should continue to exploit more favourable matchups to ensure they continue their solid run of play.
defenceman factory:
The Lotto Line should be a permanent fixture for the rest of the season and through the playoffs. Playing in front of Hughes and Hronek, they may be the best five-man unit in the game today. They can go head to head with any line in hockey and outscore them.
The success of using the Lotto Line as the regular first line depends on a couple things. Blueger’s line has to continue to play well. They are pretty good in their own end, but they are exceptional at keeping the puck in the o-zone. It seems they have been getting some harder match-ups lately. That line’s continued ability to overwhelm opponents’ middle-six with effort and energy is imperative.
Make some trades. Canucks have beat some good teams using the current Suter line, but to keep the Lotto Line together, a better line would be helpful. They aren’t scoring. Over the last five games, those three have had a combined 26 shots on net and no goals. Even a league average shooting percentage should have produced two or three goals.
It will be expensive (and risky if Kuz doesn’t turn it around) to try and make that a scoring second line. As CRobinson has been suggesting, maybe a better approach is to replace Kuzmenko with a larger, physical defensive stalwart. Ideally, it’s a centre who wins most of his draws and Suter moves to the wing. The line has to be able to handle top-six matchups and at least break even in goals. They aren’t scoring as a unit now, so production can only get better.
Reg Dunlop:
I say ride the hot hand until it cools off or if the Suter line gets caved in. The Suter line is currently holding their own defensively, and may start to contribute a goal or two. The Canucks are far and away the top scoring team right now, so let’s not over think this.
JCanuck:
This line has been on fire, but I see a point where they level off a bit. Will it be coaches’ planning or good ol’ fashioned hockey luck? When the lines get adjusted, I hope this second line experiment will have made Kuz a better player.
I’m not opposed to going out the trade route, but would rather the solution come from inside and save assets.
The Luminator:
It’s funny how the general consensus is they should never ever ever break up the chemistry of the Blueger line, but then there is all this hand wringing about how long we can keep the Lotto Line together.
Here’s a thought, how about trying Blueger between the Russian’s? Pettersson wasn’t working between them before, so why break up a good thing to go back to something bad? Suter was actually doing just as well as Blueger with Garland and Joshua before he got injured, so why not break up that line and go with something that was just as good??
I like the Pat Quinn/Brian Burke philosophy that one should never lose their successful spot in a lineup just because of an injury. Suter deserves a chance to play with that line again.
Joe in Vancouver:
The Lotto Line is something you can spring on a team once in a while, IMO. Teams configured for it will be able to counter, perhaps successfully. Certainly, a fast team has an advantage in this. These are issues this team will face in the post season.
sixpax:
The Lotto Line should be kept together until it is no longer effective in helping the team win.
Craig Gowan:
For as long as lines two, three, and four have a positive GF/GA number at 5v5.
arthur kidd:
I would like to see Petey and Miller continue to play together. They are the best two forwards hands down, and elevate each other’s games. Boeser fits well with them, but so would a lot of players. I would like to see Kuzmenko get a turn. He also needs a boost and has the high-end skill and anticipation that we saw last year when he played with Petey. Petey-Miller-Kuzmenko deserves a look. Now Boeser has some confidence back, he should be able to contribute to a line with Suter and Mikheyev.
CRobinson:
The entire forward group is playing better since the Lotto Line was reunited. Höglander makes the fourth line dangerous. The JBG line does a lot of damage when they aren’t matched against top-six opposition. The Lotto Line might be the best in the entire league. Suter, Mik, and Kuz have not been exceptional, but they aren’t terrible either. Unless they fall off a cliff, it would be better to keep things as they are and limit the “second” line’s minutes. The alternative compromises the entire top-six, possibly creating a need for more than one top-six winger. And the chances of any addition finding chemistry like the Lotto Line is slim.
Maintain the status quo and monitor Kuzmenko’s progression. If he doesn’t improve, then I would look at trading him for a shutdown centre. Someone who could eat minutes and work well with Mikheyev to shut down other teams’ best players. It might be easier to do that than break up and Petey and Miller and find wingers for both of them.
Neal Larter:
They have four effective lines, if Suters line was called the fourth line, I don’t think they would be criticized as much. I believe they are +13 this year.
(Editor’s note: The Mikheyev-Suter-Kuzmenko line is -1 at even-strength as of this writing.)
Hockey Bunker:
One line teams don’t win cups…full stop.
But a super line can be useful against weaker first round competition in an effort to win a series quickly.
As for regular season, put the Lotto Line away, we have seen it works to roll over lesser teams in a short time….the road trip was the simulation.
Great, mission accomplished, now build four good lines.
If Canucks were thinking, they would not play the line in the regular season against any Western Conference playoff team. Why give the opponents free practice to try out shutdown game plans?
But it’s hockey. Sophisticated thinking is frowned upon.
Jibsys:
To me this question is the same as asking “Should the West Coast Express line be spread out?” or “Should the Sedins be separated to different lines?”
Simple answer… keep going with what is working.

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