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In this edition of NHL Talk, the Vancouver Canucks ends its three-game skid with a big win on Saturday and the Seattle Kraken continue to struggle on a nine-game winless streak.
Canucks End Three-Game Skid, Pettersson and Demko Step Up
The Canucks ended its three-game slide with a 4-2 win over the Washington Capitals on Saturday. Elias Pettersson scored twice, his first goals in eight games, and Thatcher Demko stopped 31 of 33 shots for a .939 save percentage (SV%). Vancouver was 2-for-4 with the man-advantage, after going 0-for-12 on its losing streak. The game marked a significant turning point for the Canucks, and improves its record under new head coach Bruce Boudreau to 9-3-1.
“Thatcher Demko is once again proving that he should be a Vezina candidate,” says THW’s Adam Kierszenblat.
At just 26 years old, Demko has a strong .915 SV% across 31 starts this season. He has earned the starting role in Vancouver and is one of only three goaltenders to start at least 30 games this season, including the Tampa Bay Lightning’s Andrei Vasilevskiy and Nashville Predators’ Juuse Saros. His performance on Saturday made a statement after posting a sub-.900 SV% in each of the three games prior.
Pettersson’s strong play against the Capitals also helped the Canucks get the job done. After going four consecutive games without a point, and eight without a goal, he finally broke through with a pair of goals.
“Pettersson finally [broke] through with the goals,” says Kierszenblat. “His first power play goal was akin to what we saw in his rookie year, where he kind of waited out the defender, made him move, and beat the goaltender by shifting [them] out of position. And then the second one was him not giving up on the puck, knocking it off the back of the Capitals’ goaltender into the back of the net.”
With great nights for Demko and Pettersson, the Canucks appear to be back on a roll. The team will suit up next against the Predators on the road, Tuesday at 5 p.m. PT.
“The top players for the Canucks finally stepped up, which was a big problem for the three games (losing skid) against Florida, Tampa Bay and Carolina,” says Kieszenblat.
Kraken Still Looking for First Win of 2022, Dropped Last Nine Games
The Kraken haven’t won a game since Dec. 14, 2021, a 3-1 win over the San Jose Sharks. Since then, the team has dropped nine consecutive games, including six-straight regulation losses. In those nine games, Seattle has been outscored 37-19. The Kraken are 10-23-4 on the season and sit last place in the Pacific Division by a 13-point margin.
“[The Kraken are] allowing more shots on goal than usual,” says Kierszenblat. “They’ve had a couple of games where they’ve been outshot by double digits. So, you’re not going to win many games when your goaltending is already questionable and you’re allowing all these shots.”
Kraken goaltenders Philipp Grubauer and Chris Driedger have underwhelmed this season, with a .880 SV% and .896 SV%, respectively. Although their stats aren’t pretty, it is not all their fault. Seattle is struggling to find offense, especially with Brandon Tanev out for the season with an ACL injury and Jaden Schwartz out for another month or so following hand surgery. Although the power play has been solid at 25% during the team’s nine-game winless streak, it is struggling to produce at five-on-five.
“[The Kraken] need five-on-five goals,” says Kierszenblat. “That’s a big reason why they’ve been outscored 19 to 37, because they just can’t generate anything five-on-five, it seems.”
Seattle looks to solve its issues and end its winless skid before it hits double-digits. The team is set to face-off at home against the Chicago Blackhawks on Monday at 2 p.m. PT.
Thank you for reading this edition of NHL Talk, and make sure to listen to the THW Podcast to hear everything your favourite hockey writers have to say about the hottest topics around the league.
Tom Pepper is an NHL columnist at The Hockey Writers. He lives in Toronto and is a diehard fan of the St. Louis Blues.