After a month* on the road, the Canucks are finally returning home.
When the Canucks take on the Florida Panthers in front of a 50% capacity Rogers Arena on Friday, it’ll mark their first home game since December 14th. In that span, Vancouver’s had six home games postponed and played nine straight on the road, the last five of which came against some of the hottest teams in the NHL.
While the Canucks struggled to keep up with Florida, Tampa Bay and Carolina in their first three games, but rallied to win in their final pair of games against the Predators and Capitals and finished with a 2-3-0 record out east.
While the end results weren’t exactly what the Canucks were looking for in terms of the playoff push, the overall team performed really well given the circumstances. But even through it all, a few players stood out, either for their successes or their struggles. So today we’ll be taking a look at which players brought their stock up and which saw theirs fall over the last week of games.
Honourable Mention: Thatcher Demko
Let’s be clear: Thatcher Demko is a top performer practically every week. But the recently minted NHL All-Star had a more complicated week than normal, thanks to a positive COVID test for Jaroslav Halak.
Demko was originally slated to back up Saturday against the Hurricanes, but with Halak put in protocol hours prior to puck drop he ended up playing all five of Vancouver’s games on the road trip.
While Demko’s first three outings weren’t his best performances of the season, the fact that he played five games in eight nights against some of the NHL’s stiffest competition and finished strong against the Capitals and Predators is worth recognizing.
Now please give this poor man a night off.
Stock Rising: Tyler Motte
Motte Girl Summer came early in 2022.
Tyler Motte was the Canucks’ surprising offensive leader over the last week, putting up four points across the team’s last five games, including a potential Goal of the Year candidate against Andrei Vasilevskiy and the Lightning. Motte’s eight points in 24 games is just off his pace last season of nine in 24, but barring injury he’s more than likely to bypass his career high 16 point season in 2018-19.
Bruce Boudreau has shown a lot of confidence lately in Motte and his linemates, Juho Lammikko and Matthew Highmore, bumping up their ice time and crowning them the third line in the media. Motte played over 15 minutes in each of Vancouver’s last two games, the biggest increase he’s seen in ice time since November.
Motte’s value hasn’t just risen within the locker room, but across the league. According to Sportsnet insider Elliotte Friedman, the 26 year old winger has gained quite a bit of interest from other teams as a potential trade target.
With Motte heading for free agency in the offseason and looking for a massive raise, it seems likely that the Canucks’ new front office leverages his recent upswing as an opportunity to make their first big mark on the roster before the trade deadline. But until that day comes, hopefully Connor Bedard’s favourite player keeps racking up points.
Stock Rising: Elias Pettersson
This one’s more based out of recent struggles, but Elias Pettersson is back baby.
Pettersson’s issues have been well documented already, which is why it was all the more fantastic to see him break out against the Preds and Caps over the last pair of games. Pettersson’s three goals provided the pivotal spark for a team that had been getting contributions from the depth of their lineup, and less so from the top six.
It just goes to show just how valuable and how much stronger a team the Canucks look when their best players and their depth role players are finding ways to hit the back of the net at the same time.
Stock Falling: Nils Höglander
It’s been a tough stretch for Nils Höglander.
After being labeled as a “sparkplug” player by Travis Green, Höglander has seen his ice time drop significantly under Bruce Boudreau, particularly over the course of this road trip. Rock bottom for Nils came against the Panthers last Wednesday, when he logged a career low 9:56 of ice time and was on the ice for three Florida goals.
When Boudreau was asked about his thoughts on Höglander’s play on Tuesday, he didn’t mince words.
Of course Höglander has a lot more to give than Boudreau has seen in his short stint. But one might question if putting Höglander in a fourth line role and expecting him to produce the same top six success as he had previously is a true recipe for success.
Perhaps Boudreau himself realized that, because during the last two contests Höglander found himself paired alongside Elias Pettersson in a bigger offensive role. Despite still seeing some The sophomore ended up with an assist in both games, which hopefully will jump start his own scoring again like he helped Pettersson achieve on two of his three goals this week.