Canucks’ Special Teams Define Strong 4-Game Road Trip

The Vancouver Canucks wrapped up a four-game road trip Tuesday night with a loss to the Nashville Predators. Overall, the team played well, picking up five of a possible eight points. Here are three takeaways from the road trip, as well as a look at what’s next after the All-Star break.

Canucks’ Penalty Kill Clicking, Power Play Is Not

The Canucks penalty kill finally looks to be clicking as it went 11 for 12 on the road trip. They shut out the Winnipeg Jets, Calgary Flames, and Chicago Blackhawks on the penalty kill before finally allowing a goal against the Predators in the final game of the road trip. The Canucks are still last in the NHL when it comes to penalty kill percentage, but this road trip showed they are capable of killing penalties on a consistent basis.

Jason Dickinson, Vancouver Canucks
Jason Dickinson, Vancouver Canucks (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

The power play, on the other hand, was problematic. The Canucks went two for 11 on the power play, with both goals coming against the Jets. It was the seventh time this season the Canucks had scored multiple power-play goals in a game, with all games leading to victories. In short, the Canucks need to find a way to score on the power play.

Related: Canucks: Who Should Be Quinn Hughes’s Defense Partner?

They are 15-2-3 when they do score a power-play goal this season and 5-18-3 when they fail to register a goal with the man advantage. Whether it is player personnel, formation, or just getting the puck on net, this road trip showed the Canucks power play needs to be fixed if they want to take a run at the playoffs.

Luke Schenn Delivers in a Big Way

Luke Schenn has become a fan favorite this year. Everything about the defenceman is likable, from sticking up for Quinn Hughes when the opposition takes a run at him to his smiley face mouthguard. He may have garnered even more fans during this four-game road trip as he was one of the best Canuck defencemen throughout.

Schenn led all Canuck defencemen with three points over the four games. He had a two-assist night versus the Jets and scored a goal from his own zone into the empty net for Chicago. The two-time Stanley Cup champion even tied a Canucks record which he previously owned when he recorded 12 hits versus the Blackhawks. Overall, he finished with 23 hits in the four games while no other player had more than six. It was definitely a road trip to remember for him as he showed he could be a solid top-four defenceman for this Canucks team.

This four-game road trip was important as Schenn showed he could play 20 minutes a night and still be productive. This was a big question coming into the season as he has averaged less than 12 minutes a game over the last two seasons. Regardless, he has shown he can play well with Hughes, that he is a key member of this team and that the Canucks should seriously consider keeping him instead of trading him come the trade deadline.

Höglander and Podkolzin Both Healthy Scratched

Both Nils Höglander and Vasily Podkolzin were healthy scratched for a game during the road trip. For the young Swede, it was versus Nashville while the young Russian missed the game versus the Blackhawks. Neither registered a point on the road trip while both averaged under 12 minutes of ice-time.

Vasily Podkolzin, Vancouver Canucks
Vasily Podkolzin, Vancouver Canucks (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Both players will be key for the Canucks, but having them sit out a game once is not the worst thing in the world. Watching the game from the press box allows Höglander and Podkolzin to see the game from a different angle and hopefully will show them where they can improve on the ice and little details they may miss from ice level. The hope is that now both have experienced the press box, they will up their overall game and develop into the cornerstone pieces the Canucks hope they can become.

Must Needed Rest

The Canucks outside of Thatcher Demko now have a week off thanks to the All-Star break. The hope is the players can return feeling refreshed and make a strong push for the final playoff spot. The road trip kept them in the playoff hunt as they are only four points out of a playoff spot, but the fight will only get more difficult from here. The Canucks need to take advantage of the fact that most games are at home and build off this strong road trip once they return from the week-long break.

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