After a tough start on the road, the Vancouver Canucks came home for three games. The team won the first two of those games, including an 8-2 drubbing of a road-weary Los Angeles Kings team. Although the Kings were tired, a win is a win – scoring eight goals represented a nice victory for fans at the team’s home opener when a new captain (Bo Horvat) was named.
Related: Bobby Orr’s Landmark Season
In this post, I want to keep fans up-to-date with player news coming from the Canucks.
Item One: Markstrom Takes a Leave of Absence
We don’t have much specific news on this one, but Jacob Markstrom was granted a leave of absence to attend to a family matter. Canucks’ general manager Jim Benning didn’t have further comments except that Markstrom was expected to re-join the team at some point on its four-game road trip that starts Thursday with the St. Louis Blues.
The team recalled Zane McIntyre from American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate Utica Comets to back up Thatcher Demko in the team’s net. The 27-year-old McIntyre is a native of North Dakota and has been tending goal in the Boston Bruins’ organization until the team picked him up as a free agent last July.
McIntyre played two games with the Utica Comets this season with a .903 save percentage (SV%) and 2.92 goals against average (GAA). In 46 games last season with the Providence Bruins of the AHL, he had a .898 SV% and a 2.59 GAA with two shutouts. Although the team didn’t say who would start against the Detroit Red Wings on Tuesday, it would be a surprise if Demko didn’t get the start.
By the way, Markstrom was the game’s first star on Saturday evening as he stopped 30 of 32 shots. Only an Oskar Lindblom goal stopped the big Swede from gaining a regulation win. Markstrom’s numbers are good: he has a 2-2-0 record with a 2.23 GAA and a .926 save percentage in his starts this season.
Item Two: Hughes Scores His First NHL Goal
Obviously, when you beat a team 8-2, a lot of people score. However, one of the most notable goals came off the stick of the Canucks’ rookie blueliner Quinn Hughes. To my eyes, Hughes has been everything advertised and more. He seems confident with the puck, and he’s exceedingly mobile.
In the victory over the Kings, he ripped a power play goal, had an assist, and was plus-3 in the win. It was Hughes’ first NHL goal. Hughes now has three points in four games this season.
Item Three: Pettersson Is Off to a Slow Start, For Him
For me, one of the most noticeable things about the Canucks’ play this season is simply how not-present Calder Trophy-winner Elias Pettersson has been in four games. He has a goal and an assist but except for the shootout goal in the team’s victory over the Philadelphia Flyers, he simply hasn’t seemed himself. He has only had a few of his classic, in-your-face moves.
Pettersson did have a helper on Brock Boeser’s first period goal. As noted, he had one of the shootout goals to secure the victory. The 20-year-old star has recorded only six shots on goal through four games.
Item Four: Tanev Scored His 100th Career Point
Chris Tanev hit a milestone during Saturday’s 3-2 win over the Flyers when he had two assists, one on each of the team’s regulation goals. He assisted Boeser’s
The veteran defenseman has recorded three points and 12 blocked shots in four games this season. As well, the defensive defenseman is already a quarter of the way to his last season’s total of 12 points. Obviously, the long-time Canuck rear-guard (he’s in his 10th season) is not noted as a scorer, but he proves that, if you play long enough, you might make a milestone every once in a while. His highest point total was 20 points during the 2014-15 season.
Item Five: Boeser Scores Goal One of the Season
Boeser scored a goal on three shots in Saturday’s 3-2 shootout win over the Flyers. Although he had a concussion in training camp, he’s played solidly (three points in four games) to start the season. Boeser is looking for 30 goals this season, having topped 25 goals twice already. Sadly, for him and Canucks fans, injuries have prevented him from playing in 70 games yet during any season.
Item Six: Pearson Has a Strong Start to the Season
Tanner Pearson is seeking redemption this season. As I heard him note in a television interview, it struck him that he wasn’t seen as a valuable commodity last season as he was traded twice. After a number of successful scoring seasons with the Kings, he was moved to the Pittsburgh Penguins and the wound up playing for the Canucks for 19 games at season’s end.
But, he’s started well this season. Already in four games, he’s thrown 18 shots on net and has two goals and four points to show for it. It’s a small body of work, but he’s a point-a-game player this season.
On Saturday, he was a game hero. He scored a goal and had the winner in the shootout as the Canucks took both points. He’s playing top-six minutes and could have a breakout season if the team’s offensive prowess continues. In 2016-17, he scored 24 goals.
What’s Next with the Canucks?
The Canucks play the Detroit Red Wings on Tuesday evening at home. The surprising Red Wings are 3-2 starting the season, and it will be interesting to see Demko’s first start of the season. I’m looking for a high-scoring game, and hoping Pettersson can log a multi-point game – breaking out of what seems to be a bit of a funk to start the season.