In the latest edition of Vancouver Canucks‘ News & Rumors, the team’s owners are holding important meetings, including one with general manager Jim Benning. Additionally, head coach Travis Green is confident the team will pull through their slump, while Brock Boeser is sick of losing. Meanwhile, J.T. Miller played banged up on Sunday as he continues his hot start on the season.
Canucks Holding Important Meeting With Benning
Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported Canucks’ owner Francesco Aquilini will meet with Benning on Tuesday afternoon. Friedman believes the meeting is to understand why the team is losing and how to address it. He adds the meeting is not to make a change at the position.
The Canucks are returning home on Wednesday after losing four games straight, including all three games on their recent road trip. Matthew Sekeres reported the team held a high-level meeting on Monday to determine if change is inevitable. Fans have been asking for the organization to fire Green and Benning through social media since the 7-1 loss to the Avalanche last Thursday. The Canucks will be playing in front of a hostile environment on Wednesday if the team doesn’t make a change. It seems like the club will stick with Benning, which could mean Green is on his way out or the team trades one of their core players.
Green Confident Team Will Pull Through
Green believes the Canucks can pull out of their early-season slump. The team has a 5-9-2 record after losing all three games in their recent road trip.
“I think our penalty kill is going to have to help get us going. I think it will come around. I know our power player will score. I know we have some players that will produce (because) they’ve produced before. I know getting some of our defencemen back will also help our game,” Green said. “Things haven’t gone the way we’ve wanted to, but I will say that I’m confident that our team will turn it around.”
The Canucks have the league’s worst penalty kill (PK). They are registering a 62.3 Penalty Kill Percentage, as the club has allowed 20 goals down a man. Meanwhile, their power play has converted at 15.3 %, 25th in the league. The power play was one of the reasons the team had a successful season in 2019-20 when they converted at 24.2% clip, the fourth-best in the NHL.
The Canucks’ top players have also struggled to produce, specifically Elias Pettersson. The forward has notched three goals and nine points in 15 games, producing at a .56 point per game rate. He has struggled to score an even-strength goal this season and has only registered three points at five-on-five. The team is also facing some inconsistencies on their blue line, with Travis Hamonic moving in and out of the lineup due to his vaccination status. He missed all three games in the club’s recent road trip, but the head coach said he should be fully vaccinated. Hamonic was recalled on Monday as the team returned to Vancouver.
The Canucks’ slow start has led to fans wanting the club to fire Green and Benning. The club is off to another slow start. Similar to last season, the club has posted 12 points in 16 games. Despite the new additions in Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Conor Garland, Vasily Podkolzin and Jason Dickinson, the Canucks are still disappointing their fans. If the team doesn’t improve in the area’s Green listed, it wouldn’t be a surprise if the organization moved on from him sooner rather than later.
Boeser Disappointed in Team’s Results
After the Canucks’ 7-4 loss to the Vegas Golden Knights on Saturday night, Boeser wasn’t happy with the team’s performance.
The Canucks gave up a 2-0 lead to the Golden Knights, who took a 3-2 lead before Nils Hoglander tied the game. They took the lead once again before Hoglander tied the game once again at four goals apiece. Vegas responded with three straight goals to finish the game.
“There’s good response for sure,” Boeser said. “But at the end of the day, it’s about winning and you got to find a way to win hockey games.”
Boeser also noted the team has to be better in front of goalie Thatcher Demko. Through 12 games, he’s faced the third-most shots among goalies with 382 and has saved the fourth most with 343. Despite posting a .898 save percentage and 3.33 goals-against average, Demko isn’t responsible for the Canucks’ record this season. The team has been disappointing in their own end at even strength and on the PK.
The Canucks are seventh in the Pacific Division and are six points out of the second wild-card spot. Another slow start could hurt the team’s postseason hopes for the second season in a row.
Miller Hurt on Road Trip
Miller’s playing status on Sunday against the Anaheim Ducks was uncertain. He played 4:46 of total ice time in the third-period loss against Vegas after a crease collision in the second period. Nonetheless, the forward geared up and posted an assist while logging 19:23 time on ice against the Ducks.
His willingness to play while injured shows how bad the forward wants to win. Miller is off to a great start to the 2021-22 season, as he’s scored a team-leading seven goals and 18 points. His 18 points tie him for eighth in the league. Bo Horvat noted Miller wanting to do whatever it takes to win and how important he is to the team, from his play to his leadership (from ‘Canucks notebook: Hobbling Miller, returning Motte should provide inspiration,’ The Province, November 14, 2021).
“J.T. is going to do whatever it takes to win and we need guys like that,” Horvat said. “He’s a huge part of our team ever since he has been here. He’s playing awesome again and we’re going to need him.
“You need to hold guys accountable and he’s one of the guys who does that and the way he plays is to lead by example and we need that from everybody. We’re lucky to have him.”
Miller has 49 goals and 136 points in 138 points since joining the Canucks before the 2019-20 season. The next closest player to him in points over the same time period is Quinn Hughes with 108. He has been one of the few players on the team who has had a great start, but he needs his fellow Lotto Line members to start producing as well. Pettersson is off to a lacklustre start, while Boeser has four goals and eight points in 18 games. Hopefully, Miller’s play rubs off on the two at some point.
Tyler Motte Returns
Tyler Motte returned to the lineup on Sunday against Anaheim. He missed the first 15 games of the season since he was recovering from offseason spinal surgery. His 2020-21 season ended due to a bulging disk in his upper spine which was a result of wear and tear over several years. His return adds much need speed and help on the PK.
Sartaaj has been watching hockey for over 15 years and covers the Vancouver Canucks for The Hockey Writers.