Welcome to Canucks Weekly, where you can catch up on the past week of the Vancouver Canucks throughout the 2019-20 season. From trending topics to news and notes, this is your weekly update on all things Canucks.
November has begun, and the Canucks have only four points in the standings so far. After accumulating 17 points in the first month of the season and only losing three times in regulation, they have matched that loss total already. There’s just something about this month that seems to confound the team (more on that later).
The Canucks are now mired in their first four-game losing streak of the season while being outscored 13-5 in the process. The streak began in St. Louis when the team gave up a rare 3 on 0 rush in overtime after defenceman Tyler Myers missed the net and wiped out a teammate, making it impossible to come back and defend the odd-man rush. Jacob Markstrom was at the mercy of the Blues forwards as they passed it around easily to score the winning goal.
The streak continued against the Chicago Blackhawks and Winnipeg Jets as Markstrom and Thatcher Demko split starts, losing 5-2 and 4-1 respectively. Unfortunately, goaltending could not bail the team out this week, as the Canucks offence did not provide any running support for the tandem.
Finally, the Canucks once again could not solve the New Jersey Devils on Sunday, as Mackenzie Blackwood and company beat them for the 11th straight time. Despite finally scoring a goal on the Devils’ goaltender, they could not recover from an early 2-0 deficit dropping their fourth straight game in a row.
With all that said, here are some of the top stories and headlines that came out of Canucks Nation this past week.
Chris Tanev, Savage Warrior
We all knew Chris Tanev was a tough player. This past week, he became a warrior. Throughout his time with the Canucks, he has shown a willingness to put his body in harm’s way, even when he probably shouldn’t. Not many people would want to get in the way of a Patrik Laine one-timer. But Tanev is not a normal player, as he laid down and took the full brunt of the shot. He hobbled around the ice on one leg, still trying to defend until his teammates got the puck and cleared the zone.
You would not blame him for going to the dressing room and packing it in for the night. But again, Tanev is not a normal defenceman. After a brief absence, he would reemerge and join the battle once again. He did not look any worse for wear either, skating effortlessly on his next shift.
But that was just the first act of bravery. After a few shifts, Tanev left the game again, making everyone wonder if that was the last we would see of the warrior. But alas, he was not done on the battlefield. A few minutes later, he again emerged from the shadows to help the troops. Battered and bruised, he showed the meaning of leadership and soldiering through the pain.
Now in his tenth season in the National Hockey League, Tanev has blocked a total of 936 shots, many of the rocket variety. He’s had his share of injuries because of it but continues to cement his legacy as one of the premier shot blockers and tough guys in the league. Yes, I said tough guys. You don’t have to be a fighter or physical player to be classified as tough. Game in game out he goes into battle, calm and collected, knowing full well that he may be putting his body in front of a 90 mile an hour slap shot. That’s toughness, my friends, not to mention the courage of a lion.
This was not lost on his teammates either, as they echoed the same sentiments.
I think the words speak for themselves. The best part is how Tanev describes his contributions. He thinks everyone does it. A humble warrior as well. The Canucks are lucky to have him.
JT Miller Trade Paying Off
JT Miller continues to produce on the top line with Elias Pettersson and Brock Boeser. He is second on the team in points with 19 and is currently on a five-game point streak. He is noticeable every game and is one of the only forwards that is providing consistent offence. In fact, he has been held off the scoresheet only five times this season.
There were a lot of people that questioned the trade in the offseason, especially the cost of it. But you have to give up something to get something, and so far it looks like the trade is paying off. Sure, the first-round pick is a high price to pay, but if Miller can continue to produce at this pace for the rest of his contract, I don’t think anyone will care about how much general manager Jim Benning paid to get him.
Now that the Canucks are struggling to find offence, Miller will have more pressure on him to produce. Head coach Travis Green will probably use him to jump-start other players too, like Bo Horvat, who hasn’t scored in six games. All in all, Miller has been a pleasant surprise for the team so far.
Canucks’ November Curse
It’s November, and the Canucks are struggling. Where have we heard that before? Oh yes, it was last season. There is something about this month that seems to confound the team, no matter who is on it. Since the 2016-17 season, they have a record of 15-22-6 in the month of November.
The Canucks usually start strong in October, then fizzle the following month. It’s a weird trend, causing some people to call it a curse. Everything that went right in the first month of the season has become a struggle. Offence has dried up going from 3.91 goals per game in October to 1.83 goals per game so far this month. Now, it’s just two weeks in, so it could be a little early to hit the panic button.
But, when you look back at the past three seasons, it’s hard to keep your hand off of it. The trend is a disturbing one, and it will be difficult to buck looking at the upcoming schedule. The Canucks still have to play another six-game road trip, and there are many players who are struggling to score right now. The once strong penalty kill has shown some cracks recently allowing a goal in three straight games and the power play continues to struggle as well.
There just seems to be a lot of things that need to turn around in a very short period of time to break this curse. The Canucks have the depth and players to do it, but it will require hard work and some luck as well.
Other News & Notes
After many pundits described the Canucks as deeper offensively at the end of October, they have now become a one-line team. Of the 156 points generated, 58 of those have come from the Lotto Line of Boeser, Pettersson, and Miller. That translates to 37 percent of the offence. That’s just too much coming from one line. For the team to be successful, the other three trios need to start producing more.
The second line anchored by Horvat has become a revolving door of wingers, with Jake Virtanen, Tanner Pearson, Josh Leivo, Adam Gaudette, Micheal Ferland, and Sven Baertschi seeing time there this season already. Of all those wingers Virtanen has the most goals with five. The rest have only six goals between them. That’s not enough production from your second wave of attack.
Horvat has only one even-strength goal as well. The captain has to start producing five on five. More consistent wingers would probably help, but that’s a discussion for another day. In the end, the Canucks need to get more consistent production past the Lotto Line. If they want to break the curse of November, it needs to happen soon.
The Week Ahead
The homestand continues this week with three more games against three tough opponents in the Nashville Predators, Dallas Stars, and Colorado Avalanche. The Canucks will have their work cut out for them as they attempt to snap the four-game losing streak they are currently mired in.
They should all be fun games to watch, especially the one on Saturday when the Canucks will be wearing the black skate jersey for the first time since 2016. It also marks the first time Quinn Hughes will match up against fellow Calder Trophy contender Cale Makar of the Avalanche. Hopefully, the tougher teams bring out the best in the Canucks. Enjoy the games!
Matthew Zator is the assistant managing editor at THW and a writer who lives and breathes Vancouver Canucks hockey, the NHL Draft, and prospects in general. He loves talking about young players and their potential. Matthew is a must-read for Canucks fans and fans of the NHL Draft and its prospects. For interview requests or content information, you can follow Matthew through his social media accounts which are listed under his photo at the conclusion of articles like this one about Tyler Motte.