Vancouver Canucks weekly Thoughts: Blueline dilemma, penalty kill

TORONTO, ON - NOVEMBER 5: William Nylander
TORONTO, ON - NOVEMBER 5: William Nylander /

In this segment of weekly thoughts, we talk about Bo Horvat’s PK struggles, an averted defensive dilemma, the resurgence of Loui Eriksson, and Boeser versus Murray round two.

Blue Line Dilemma Averted

Erik Gudbranson’s upper body injury made it easy for head coach Travis Green to slot in Troy Stecher and Chris Tanev against the Devils.

Had all three been available to play however, who would have stepped out alongside Alex Biega?

Popular opinion might have been to scratch a struggling Gudbranson, but how would that have affected his trade value? Would upper management be okay with Green scratching a potential trade chip? Given this and the physical presence he brings to the table, I think Gudbranson would have stayed in the lineup.

Assuming Alex Edler stays on the top pairing, Green would’ve been left with the tough decision of having to sit one of Derrick Pouliot, Ben Hutton, or Michael Del Zotto.

As interesting as it is, it’s a debate we’ll have to revisit in a week or two when Gudbranson is healthy again.

Horvat Shouldn’t Be On The PK

When Brandon Sutter returns to the lineup, Green needs to think about removing Bo Horvat from the penalty kill.

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Dating back to last year, Horvat has been the worst forward on a below average penalty kill.

Looking at shot attempts allowed (Corsi against) on the penalty kill, Horvat was worst among forwards with 303 shot attempts allowed last year.

The second worst player using this metric(Brandon Sutter) had 72 fewer attempts allowed despite spending more time shorthanded.

While it’s expected that the two most frequently used penalty killers would have the most shot attempts allowed, the discrepancy between Horvat and Sutter proves that Horvat was significantly worse at suppressing shots. Using CA/60 adjusts for time spent killing penalties and still leaves Horvat as the worst forward at allowing shots.

Things get worse when you look at the quality of shots allowed as well. Horvat was worst on the team in allowing 70 high danger shot attempts(HDCA), 16 more than the second place Sutter; and nearly doubling everyone else. Accounting for time spent on the PK once again left Horvat at the top with 28.4 HDCA per hour.

Horvat hasn’t fared much better at killing penalties this year either. He ranks worst among forwards when looking at CA/60, scoring chances against per 60, and FA/60.

It’s time to consider using Brendan Gaunce or Markus Granlund at centre on the PK.

Boeser vs Murray Round Two

After lighting up Matt Murray for three goals on Nov. 4, Brock Boeser was called out as lucky in the post game interview. Murray claimed that the goals were the result of “weird bounces” and tough breaks. You take a look at those goals and be the judge for yourself.

Fast forward almost three weeks later and Boeser potted two more in a 5-2 win against the Penguins. Boeser’s snipe off the rush and one time bomb on the power play were once again called out by Murray as “hilarious” and something to “laugh” at.

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While Murray’s lack of accountability is disappointing, at least it helped spark this gem of a video.

I guess you can say Boeser was lucky that Murray was in net.

Resurgence of Loui Eriksson

For a team struggling to produce offence, Loui Eriksson’s bounce back performance has been a blessing. Eriksson chipped in with three goals and four points last week, giving him seven points in eight games since recovering from a knee injury.

More importantly however, Eriksson has revived the Sedin line. The latest game against the Rangers was their best, with the trio controlling possession and generating chances all game. On a day where the young guns failed to push play, it was the Sedin line that put up arguably their best performance of the season.

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In my mind, Eriksson is the key cog for secondary scoring behind the Killer B’s. If he can continue to make plays and jump start the Sedins, the Canucks drastically increase their slim odds of remaining competitive in the Pacific division.

*All stats in this article are courtesy of Natural Stattrick