The Vancouver Canucks are four games into a difficult road trip, and until the November 27 game against the Pittsburgh Penguins things were looking pretty good. However, during the third period, the bottom absolutely fell out for the Canucks. The Penguins hammered six goals home and the Canucks, who looked to have a pretty safe lead, didn’t. The final score was 8-6 for the wrong side.
So far on this road trip, the team was walloped 6-1 by the Dallas Stars, beat Nashville 6-3, beat the tough Washington Capitals 2-1 in a shootout, and then – as I say – got beaten when the Penguins mounted a huge comeback.
Having a 2-3 record during the trip is okay, and it might be far worse. However, the way the team lost leaves a lot to be desired. The Canucks play the Edmonton Oilers on November 30 and then comes home for a December 1 instant replay against the Oilers.
In this post, I want to keep Canucks fans up-to-date on the news coming from the team as it wraps up its road trip.
Item One: Recapping the Penguins Game
This game was like three separate games. After the first 15 minutes of period one, the Canucks were behind by a score of 2-0. The team had basically nothing going. Then, things turned and Vancouver scored four straight goals to take a 4-2 lead after two periods. In fact, the Canucks extended their lead to 6-3 in the third period – and all looked good. Alas, looks can be deceiving. Things turned yet again, and the Penguins stormed back for five straight goals and that was the game.
During the game, Elias Pettersson scored his 11th of the season. It was also his fifth goal in his last eight games. J.T Miller and Adam Gaudette (I hope this young player stays, as you can tell from my other posts) each had two goals. Finally, Jake Virtanen (who looks as if he’s on his way to 20 goals) scored his seventh for the Canucks.
Item Two: Thatcher Demko Does Fine, Until a Point
Thatcher Demko wasn’t even going to start against the Penguins, but Jacob Markstrom was ill when he came to the arena and took the opportunity to rest. That meant Demko got his second straight start. He had played a good game against the Philadelphia Flyers on Monday but lost 2-1.
The game against the Penguins was a bit of a wild one, going back and forth. In the third period, Pittsburgh scored four unanswered goals on Demko and seven goals in 39 shots. That loss dropped his record to 5-4-1 on the year and stretched his non-winning streak to more than two weeks (his last win was on November 12).
Item Three: Quinn Hughes Is on a Roll
Rookie defenseman Quinn Hughes had another three-assist game in the loss to the Penguins. On November 22, he also had three assists against the Nashville Predators. However, against the Penguins, his three assists were scored with the teams playing five-on-five hockey. Against the Predators, Hughes’ three assists were all scored on the power play.
Hughes, who’s playing in just his first full NHL season, has shown abilities I don’t think anyone has expected. In 25 games with the Canucks, Hughes has scored two goals, 19 assists, and 21 points. He’s especially gifted on the power play, scoring 13 points with the man advantage.
Item Four: J.T. Miller Has Been Gold for the Canucks
It seems as if every time I write a Canucks’ news post, J.T. Miller’s name comes up. Against the Penguins, he scored two times – once on the power play and once at even strength. He was a great addition by general manager Jim Benning. In 26 games this season, he’s scored 26 points.
Perhaps one reason is that head coach Travis Green has seen fit to play him more minutes – which seems like a no-brainer, given Miller’s production. Miller has logged more ice time than during any of his seasons (over 20 minutes per game, when his previous high was at 19 minutes per game). He is reliable offense, game after game. The team is lucky to have him.
What’s Next for the Canucks?
The Canucks have one more road game before they land at home on Dec. 1 against the high-flying Edmonton Oilers. They need to beat the Oilers, who are smarting from a 4-1 loss to the Colorado Avalanche last night if they are to come home with a 3-3 road record. In that game, something rare happened: neither of the NHL two leading scorers – Connor McDavid or Leon Draisaitl – scored a point. That’s rare.
It should be a good back-to-back test for the team.