The Vancouver Canucks road trip of three games has concluded. They went one for three with a win against the Seattle Kraken and losses against the Colorado Avalanche and the (can you believe it?) San Jose Sharks.
The obvious takeaway is that the Canucks looked tired in the games at times but did battle well. But here are three other takeaways from the road trip that was.
Takeaways From the Canucks Road Trip
Canucks road trip takeaway #1: Elias Pettersson has gone cold
Elias Pettersson had a great 2022-23 season. He had a good start to 2023-24 with 16 points in nine games in October. Pettersson has 13 points in 13 November games but it is clear that he is not playing his best hockey at the moment.
Pettersson only managed one assist on the recent road trip. That was a secondary assist on Brock Boeser‘s second goal of the game against the Sharks. He has only managed two goals in his last ten games, which were against the Calgary Flames and Ottawa Senators.
The shot doesn’t look the same and he looks hesitant to shoot at times. Not only that, Pettersson has been turning the puck over more and seems to have trouble receiving passes. Is he playing hurt? It is a possibility, as he has been seen with a taped wrist over the past couple of games. However, Pettersson has said he feels good.
— 𝔾𝕄𝔸ℕ (@NotoriousGman_) November 25, 2023
Pettersson also usually has his left wrist taped so maybe the alarm bells rang too soon.
The Canucks need Pettersson to be the player they know he is. When he is on his game, Pettersson is one of the best players in the NHL. Right now, he needs to take off the invisibility cloak.
Once Pettersson gets going, he’s going to look unstoppable. He has shown flashes of his usual self. That included this hit on Calen Addison which lead to him being crushed by Matt Benning (There is a Jim Benning and Pettersson joke that I unfortunately can’t think of. Matt is the former Canucks general manager’s nephew for those who don’t know) which lead to a melee in San Jose.
It’s getting fiesty in San Jose.
— theScore (@theScore) November 26, 2023
Pettersson is known for being a good defensive player too. Against Colorado, he broke up a potential scoring chance and displayed some speed but couldn’t beat Alexander Georgiev.
Elias Pettersson showing a nice burst of speed up the ice on this play. pic.twitter.com/LbnF5fA1vK
— CanucksArmy (@CanucksArmy) November 23, 2023
Takeaway #2: The bottom six are stepping up
The Canucks have been getting some scoring from their bottom six in the last few games, particularly on the recent road trip. For the years, the Canucks had bottom six players that didn’t produce much offence and some were overpaid.
Those days are gone. It is refreshing to see players such as Dakota Joshua, Teddy Blueger, Sam Lafferty (who has also been playing the top six and doing well there.) and Nils Höglander provide offence. Höglander had a five-game point streak snapped in the loss to the Sharks and he once again deserves some time on the power play and in the top six.
The game in Seattle was when the bottom six shone the most on the road trip. They battled well against the Kraken, especially in the offensive zone. The best example was on Joshua’s goal as he was battling in front of Joey Daccord while Conor Garland and Nils Åman (who was signed to a two-year contract extension which kicks in next season) battled for the puck in the slot.
Dakota Joshua scores! That’s his third goal of the season. Great work by this line.
2-0 Canucks! pic.twitter.com/iA5c8bJUFv
— CanucksArmy (@CanucksArmy) November 25, 2023
Canucks head coach Rick Tocchet is a big advocate of the battling and forechecking and the bottom six did that for the most part on the road trip. To make things better, all of that leads to offence.
Takeaway #3: Quinn Hughes is going streaking
Quinn Hughes is good. Scratch that, he is great. He is so great that he is tied with teammate JT Miller for second in NHL scoring with 33 points. That is two points behind Tampa Bay Lightning superstar Nikita Kucherov.
Hughes is the front-runner for the Norris trophy at the moment. He makes zone exits, zone entries, defending and creating offence look effortless.
The Canucks captain is on an 11-game point streak which is the longest in the NHL at the time of this writing. The crazy thing is, he isn’t the first Canucks defenceman to do that this season.
Quinn Hughes extended his point streak to 11 games and matched the longest run by a defenseman in @Canucks history, a mark teammate Filip Hronek also equaled earlier this season.#NHLStats: https://t.co/KInqWYxvMX pic.twitter.com/pRB9DVSnVL
— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) November 26, 2023
While several Canucks players looked gassed on the road trip, Hughes looks like he hasn’t been slowing down for the most part.
The Canucks have seven of their next eight games at home beginning with the Anaheim Ducks coming into Rogers Arena on November 28.
Despite some good efforts, the Canucks have been on a bit of a slide as they are 2-4-0 in their last six. They are disappointed to have come out of the road trip with just one win. Tocchet was not happy with the loss in San Jose.
“You have to play smart. you’ve got to have good angles, short shifts,” he said per Patrick Johnston of The Province. ” You’ve got to do your staples. When you don’t have your game, you can’t (say) ‘I’m tired and can’t do my staples’. So something different I guess.”
With a lot of games at home coming up, the Canucks have an opportunity to get some momentum, but it definitely won’t be easy.
Main Photo: Robert Edwards-USA TODAY Sports