In a virtual press conference, Vancouver Canucks’ head coach Travis Green discussed the team’s struggles to start the 2020-21 season. The Canucks lost 7-3 to the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday night.
Green was also asked about Elias Pettersson’s struggles this season, specifically in Thursday night’s game against the Canadiens.
Pettersson has had a slow start to the 2020-21 season, as he has registered one point (an assist) in six games. In Thursday night’s game, the 2017 first-round pick had a turnover on the power play while trying to make a cross-ice pass on the blueline to Brock Boeser. The pass was picked off by Joel Armia, who then sent Tyler Toffoli on a breakaway. Toffoli scored his fifth goal in two games against the Canucks to give the Canadiens a 3-2 lead.
Green believes the turnover doesn’t describe Pettersson’s game so far this season and said he thought the forward played well in Wednesday night’s matchup against the Canadiens. Pettersson is now in his third season and is expected to take the next step in his progression. Instead, Canucks’ fans are waiting on the forward to score his first goal seven games into the season.
Green added he thought no one on the club had a good game. Captain Bo Horvat scored two goals in the first period on Thursday to tie the game twice, when the Canucks were down 1-0 and 2-1. The Canucks seemed to fall apart after Toffoli’s short-handed goal, as Montreal scored four goals in the second period and then added another in the third period.
As for the Canucks, only two players finished with a Corsi For percentage (CF%) above 50. Pettersson finished with a 57.14 CF% but only played 6.55 minutes of 5-on-5 hockey, and Jalen Chatfield finished with a 75 CF% but only played 1:15 of 5-on-5 hockey.
Canucks’ Slow Start
The Canucks have a 2-4-0 record through six games after their loss to the Canadiens. Green believes his club has looked immature to start the season. The head coach thinks it may be because the team had success in the playoffs last season and have forgotten how hard it is to win. The Canucks advanced to the Western Conference semifinals in the 2020 Stanely Cup playoffs before losing to the Vegas Golden Knights in seven games.
Green added the Canucks have never been a team that has won games easily, and they had to grind wins out last season. The Canucks didn’t rank among the top teams before the stoppage of play in the 2019-20 season. Instead, they found themselves outside of a playoff spot with 78 points in 69 games. They beat the Minnesota Wild in four games in the play-in round to earn their playoff spot.
Green believes for the team to get their season back on track, they have to remember it is hard to win in the NHL and get back to that mentality.
Sartaaj has been watching hockey for over 15 years and covers the Vancouver Canucks for The Hockey Writers.