It was a tale of two games. Different teams played, but the situation was similar. The Washington Capitals came to face the Vancouver Canucks last Friday evening on the second game of a back-to-back and came all the way back from a 5-1 deficit to beat the Canucks in a shootout.
On Monday evening, the Florida Panthers came into town on a similar back-to-back and fell behind by a similar 5-1 score. This time there was no coming back. The Panthers were clawed by the Canucks 7-2.
In this post, I want to share seven takeaways from the game. I know, usually hockey commentators limit their posts to five takeaways; however, there were simply more good things to say about this game than five takeaways would allow. And, I’m not even spending time on Alexander Edler’s three assists and his helping to shut down the Panthers offense.
Because there will be nights where there are fewer positives, I want to take the extra space for two more Canucks’ positives.
Takeaway #1: When You Face a Team on a Back-to-Back, Stomp Them
I can’t even imagine what head coach Travis Green had to say to his team after Friday’s loss to the Capitals. But, obviously, the team took it to heart. Playing in back-to-back games seems to be a curse of this season’s schedule for all teams, and for a team facing another team who’s on a back-to-back, it’s smart to beat on them when they come along.
The Canucks did just that. The team stepped on the gas and never let up.
Takeaway #2: Ferland Is Getting Better
Micheal Ferland scored two assists in Monday’s game. Both assists came during the first period when he helped on goals by Brandon Sutter and Josh Leivo. Ferland was active during the game and, although he didn’t register a shot, his presence was felt on the ice. He played just over 12 minutes, but I’m starting to notice him on the ice more than I did at the beginning of the season.
The 27-year-old winger only has a single goal and five points in the Canucks’ 11 games this season, but he seems to be engaging the play in ways he wasn’t earlier in the season.
Takeaway #3: Virtanen Has Now Scored in Three Straight Games
Jake Virtanen scored during the first period to give the Canucks a 3-0 lead. He’d scored twice during the Capitals game on Friday evening and once against the Red Wings last Tuesday evening.
After not scoring during the first eight games of the season, the 23-year-old right-winger has now scored in three straight games. Should he continue on this pace, he might break 20 goals and 40 points for the season. That would be by far his best season.
Takeaway #4: Schaller Is Gaining Confidence
Tim Schaller has had a great week. First, he scored two goals against the Capitals in the team’s shootout loss, then he scored a goal in Monday’s 7-2 win over the Panthers. Schaller isn’t known as a scorer; in fact, his shooting percentage this season is amazing. He’s scored four goals on 17 shots for a 23.5 shooting percentage. He’s never shot that well previously.
During the 2017-18 season when he played for the Boston Bruins, he scored 12 goals at a nine percent rate. He likely won’t score like this for long, but how confident does he have to feel right now given his start. Almost one of every four shots he takes is a goal. He looks energetic on the ice and no wonder.
Takeaway #5: Pettersson and Boeser Have Chemistry
Elias Pettersson and Brock Boeser play well together. During Boeser’s third-period goal, Pettersson simply found him and Boeser made no mistake directing a shot over the goalie’s left shoulder.
Pettersson had three assists during the game. He assisted on both J.T. Miller’s goals as well as Boeser’s. During his last four games, Pettersson has scored one goal and seven assists, with totals of 14 points in 11 games.
The line of Pettersson, Boeser, and Miller are producing well.
Takeaway #6: Miller Was a Good Trade
Speaking of Miller, as noted above he scored a pair of goals during the game. Miller’s two goals now give him 13 points in 11 games. He’s one of two Canucks players (Pettersson is the other) who’s playing at more than a point-a-game pace. And, given the Canucks balanced scoring this season, that’s a strong team stat.
Being with Pettersson has helped Miller, but Miller has also helped Pettersson. It was a good trade, getting Miller from the Tampa Bay Lightning for draft picks.
Takeaway #7: Demko Is a Good Goalie
Thatcher Demko looks stronger and more confident in every game he plays. He had a good record coming into the Panthers’ game (2-1-0 and a .943 save percentage) and left with his good record intact. In fact, Demko’s only loss came when the New Jersey Devils MacKenzie Blackwood threw a 25-save shutout against the Canucks. During that game, Demko only allowed a single goal on 24 shots.
Against the Panthers, Demko allowed two goals on 28 shots. Given his level of offensive support, it was an easy victory. He’s now 3-1-0 with only eight goals given up on 119 shots. His season totals now hold a 1.73 goals against average with a .941 save percentage. He’s become a trustworthy goalie.
What’s Next for the Canucks?
The Canucks play the Kings in Los Angeles on Wednesday evening, with the Kings looking to exact revenge after the 8-2 dubbing they experienced in Vancouver. After playing the Kings, the Canucks face the Anaheim Ducks on Friday evening and finally play a back-to-back on Saturday against the San Jose Sharks.