Vancouver Canucks: What Nikolay Goldobin’s return to the lineup means

VANCOUVER, BC - APRIL 5: Nikolay Goldobin #77 of the Vancouver Canucks skates up ice during their NHL game against the Arizona Coyotes at Rogers Arena April 5, 2018 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images)"n
VANCOUVER, BC - APRIL 5: Nikolay Goldobin #77 of the Vancouver Canucks skates up ice during their NHL game against the Arizona Coyotes at Rogers Arena April 5, 2018 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images)"n /

After serving as a healthy scratch since Jan. 13, it would appear that Vancouver Canucks winger Nikolay Goldobin is out of the doghouse — for now.

Vancouver Canucks forward Nikolay Goldobin‘s last game was on January 13th. During that game, he only saw 8:34 of ice time. The game also marked the fifth consecutive outing where Goldobin failed to record a point, his last one prior to that was his two-assist performance against the Edmonton Oilers on Dec. 27th.

During his ensuing five-game slump, Goldobin had a minus-eight rating. To be fair to him, the majority of the players on the Canucks found themselves in the negative during those five games, as the Canucks dropped three of five.

That five-game slump was good enough for Goldobin to earn a spot in Travis Green’s doghouse, or as we like to call it, the press box. A place players such as Ben Hutton and Sven Baertschi have been to before. Head coach Green was openly frustrated with Goldobin’s lack of defensive play, saying that the young Russian had to “work on his play away from the puck” among other things.

Green also mentioned that on top of having numerous sessions in the video room, the Canucks have had practices specifically designed to help Goldobin improve on his play away from the puck. Green definitely cares about Goldobin and wants to see him playing solid hockey sooner, rather than later. Green also added that the onus is on the player to get back in the lineup.

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As mentioned earlier, Hutton and Baertschi have both experienced Green’s tough love style and watched their fair share of games from the press box over their careers playing under Green.

“He expects a lot from everybody, but if you’re talking skilled guys, he expects even more,” Baertschi said of Green, via Daniel Wagner of the Vancouver Courier. “He expects that skill side of the game to be great, but then on the other side you’ve still gotta play hard, and you’ve gotta compete, and you’ve gotta play well defensively.”

This is obviously true of Green. It’s the reason why Elias Pettersson has earned his coach’s trust. Whenever Pettersson coughs up the odd turnover, he is relentless in trying to get the puck back.

And when there’s an odd man rush the other way? Green and everybody watching the game can always count on number 40 making a mad dash back to his own end in an attempt to break up the play.

You just don’t usually see that hustle as a part of Goldobin’s game.

However, Goldobin will have the chance to show he’s learned from this whole experience, because Canucks general manager Jim Benning told TSN 1040 Friday afternoon that Goldobin would, in fact, be in the lineup for tonight’s contest against the Colorado Avalanche.

This brought on a couple of questions for me that will be answered after watching the next couple of games the Canucks play.

Is Goldobin really out of the doghouse? 

I began this article by saying Goldobin is out of the doghouse- for now; because we really don’t know whether or not he’ll be slotted in for tonight’s game and then find himself back in the press box the game after.

We can only speculate and hope he performs well enough for coach Green to dress him for consecutive games. It feels almost as if there will be a magnifying glass on Goldobin and that if he makes a mistake or two in tonight’s contest, it’ll be back to the press box for him.

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Will Goldobin be put right back on the first line?

The lines have not come out yet at the time of this writing, but I wonder whether or not Green will put Goldobin back with Pettersson and Brock Boeser a line that The Canuck Way’s Chris Faber pointed out, has performed fairly well together.

Or will Green put him on Bo Horvat‘s wing? Green’s thinking behind that move would most likely be that by putting Goldobin with the more defensively-sound Horvat, Goldobin’s defensive responsibilities will be lessened, not to mention Horvat can finish off a goal if Goldobin sets him up, or vice-versa.

Who will be scratched in Goldobin’s place?

To me, the easy answer is Markus Granlund. Although he scored in back-to-back games against the Florida Panthers and Edmonton Oilers, “The Granimal” didn’t look too great in the Canucks last game before the break against the Carolina Hurricanes. He was on Horvat’s line and finished with a minus-two rating. Goldobin on the Canucks second scoring line with Josh Lievo on the right side is surely a more offensive line than it is when Granlund is on it.

This isn’t to rip on Granlund. I don’t even mind Granlund, I like some of the things he’s done, but he obviously isn’t part of the future plans for the Canucks.  Green is not going to scratch Antoine Roussel or Loui Eriksson in order to get Goldobin in the lineup. So unfortunately, it would appear that Granlund will be the odd man out.

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What do you think Canucks fans? Will Goldobin find himself in the press box in the near future, or remain a mainstay in the Canucks lineup for the remainder of the season? Let me know what you think in the comments section below.