Early in the season, the Vancouver Canucks offence looks even more dreadful than the previous two seasons. It’s surprising to see the players not scoring, but even more concerning.
After once again ranking near the bottom in scoring last season, the Vancouver Canucks went to work in addressing their offence. General manager Jim Benning brought in sniper Thomas Vanek, the speedy and versatile Sam Gagner, and puck-moving defenceman Michael Del Zotto.
These names — along with a new head coach Travis Green and expected contributions from Brock Boeser and Jake Virtanen –were to help the Canucks simply score more goals. Throw in strong 2016-17 campaigns from Bo Horvat, Sven Baertschi and Markus Granlund, and you see why expectations were a bit higher for the forwards this season.
But thus far, the Canucks have just nine goals through their first four games.
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The power play, at 8.7 percent, has also been downright awful. Green keeps trying to use different line combinations out there, and the results have stayed the same. Even the return of PP specialist Newell Brown hasn’t been enough.
Though many may just roll their eyes and think “same old story” with the Canucks starving offence, I detailed last month why the offence could be a juggernaut.
I pointed out the tremendous depth:
Sven Baertschi — Bo Horvat — Brock Boeser
Markus Granlund — Brandon Sutter —Loui Eriksson
Daniel Sedin — Henrik Sedin — Sam Gagner
Nikolay Goldobin — Alexander Burmistrov — Jake Virtanen
With nine players capable of scoring 15-20 goals, I was expecting some results here. So far, very wrong.
I also thought the mix of play-making veterans like the Sedins, Gagner and Loui Eriksson would mesh with young and speedy players like Horvat, Boeser and Virtanen. Gagner and Vanek’s track records speak for themselves, and Green seemed like (and probably still is), the ideal fit for this retooling roster.
But through four games (all of them at home), the Canucks have been lifeless on offence. It doesn’t get any easier in facing Guy Boucher and the Ottawa Senators suffocating defence — that didn’t give Vancouver an inch of space in their meeting last Tuesday.
Vancouver will then pay visits to Boston, Buffalo, Detroit and Minnesota — teams who have either failed or exceeded expectations thus far.
Though the Canucks have the players and roster depth to turn things around, fans and pundits naturally start to feel that it’ll be a repeat of 2016 and 2017. That’s just what happens when this team tries new things but sees the same resuls every year.
With Alexander Edler injured and Jacob Markstrom not exactly a Matt Murray or Carey Price, the Canucks probably need to rely on scoring to pull out wins. Their defence and goalies are works in progress, and can’t be expected to pull out victories on their own.
So if the Vancouver Canucks are to somehow turn this ship around, it’s going to have to come by the offence. Thus far, they haven’t showed us any reason to expect a major turnaround. But like I said last month, with so much depth and the right mix of players, perhaps the Canucks will find their groove on offence once again.