Don’t look now, but the Vancouver Canucks have four consecutive wins on the season. This one came via a 6-2 crushing of the Washington Capitals. Here is what we learned in the victory.
Well, Vancouver Canucks head coach Travis Green has exceeded early expectations as a rookie head coach. He has the team rolling with a 6-3-1 record as they head into their final game of the month against the Dallas Stars on Monday.
Coming off a 4-1-0 road trip, the Canucks welcomed the defending Presidents’ Trophy winners, Alexander Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals. Vancouver was in control all game long, and they ran away with an easy 6-2 victory.
Five different Canucks scored in this one, as Sven Baertschi led the way with two tallies. Brock Boeser added a trio of assists, and is now up to eight points in nine games. As usual (yes, as usual), Anders Nilsson was a brick wall and turned aside 27 shots in the victory.
There was basically nothing but positive takeaways from this one. We chose to narrow it down to three tonight, however. Here are the three main things we learned from Vancouver’s first home win three years.
You score, he scores, everyone scores
Isn’t scoring by committee fun? The Canucks are sure learning how to share all the goals and assists. On Thursday, five players scored (as mentioned above).
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Nine different players had a point against Braden Holtby and one of the league’s stingiest defensive units.
Sam Gagner got an assist on Thomas Vanek‘s goal, so perhaps he’s finally ready to bust out of his early season slump. Baertschi had two goals (four in his last three games now), and added an assist. Looks like he’s out of his funk.
Boeser also had three assists, showing he’s more than just a sniper. Markus Granlund and Bo Horvat also scored, and both look like they’re slowly coming together after frustrating stars. That’s encouraging for Green’s squad.
The legend of Derek Dorsett is just getting started, as he scored his sixth goal of the season. The man really just won’t be stopped.
Remember how much the Canucks used to rely on the Sedins? Neither of them scored a point. And the Canucks still beat a quality team by four goals. I’ll say this again: They are doing just fine on the fourth line. The goal for Green is to keep them there, because the young kids are making the most of their opportunities.
Big day on the power play
We won’t pretend the Canucks power play is no longer a concern. There is a lot of work to do, but they made the most of opportunities against an uncharacteristically undisciplined Washington squad on Thursday.
Vancouver scored on three of their six power play attempts. Horvat scored in the first to make it 2-0, while Baertschi added a pair of goals on the man advantage in the second and third periods. That’s how you give your team insurance.
Granted, this is one of the worst penalty killing units in the NHL that the Canucks faced. But scoring on half your man advantages is nothing to laugh at. The Canucks made Washington pay for their sins.
With Baertschi, Boeser, Granlund and Horvat all breaking through, the Canucks know they have the potential to be a top-notch power play unit. On Thursday night, this team lived up to its potential with the man advantage. They just need to find consistency.
Defence, goalies standing tall
What’s most surprising about the Canucks thus far has been their ability to keep pucks out of their own net. With Alexander Edler and Troy Stecher out long term, the Canucks blue line has still found ways to shut down the opposition’s top guns.
Vancouver shut out a high-scoring Minnesota Wild team on Tuesday. On the road. Though Nicklas Backstrom (who didn’t play due to an illness), was sorely missed by the Capitals, Vancouver still shut down this high-flying offence.
Ovechkin was held to one assist and just three shots on goal. The Canucks kept stars like T.J. Oshie off the score sheet too, while Evgeny Kuznetsov was held to one point. Credit to guys like Chris Tanev, Derrick Pouliot and Michael Del Zotto, who have been much more sound defensively with key bodies out.
As for Anders Nilsson, his stats are off-the-charts ridiculous. He’s now 3-1-0 with a 1.88 goals against average, .943 save percentage and two shutouts. Who’da thought that Nilsson and Jacob Markstrom would be in such a dog fight for the starter’s job so early? Very few, if any.