In game 81 of the 82 game regular season, the Vancouver Canucks took on the Nashville Predators, losing by a score of 3-2.
The Vancouver Canucks came into this game and looked good right out of the gate. In the final two periods, however, the Canucks didn’t play their best and saw their two-goal lead disappear. Here are my three takeaways from last night’s game.
One more #ShotgunJake this year?
Although not much of a drinker myself, the movement on Twitter of #ShotgunJake has been something worth seeing. It’s simple, really — Canucks fans have come together and shotgunned a beer whenever Jake Virtanen scores a goal. He didn’t score last night, but it was still good to see Virtanen get a chance on the Canucks’ top line.
Some people out there consider Virtanen to be a bust. I don’t think that’s necessarily fair, because he has shown flashes of greatness and in my opinion, is extremely close to putting it all together and turning into a complete player.
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His speed is undeniable, and having a player who isn’t afraid to throw his weight around or drop the gloves with an opposing player is always a good thing for a young team to have. That speed and grit is the exact reason that head coach Travis Green decided to start Virtanen on the Canucks’ top line alongside Elias Pettersson and Brock Boeser last night.
Virtanen’s season has been intriguing but hasn’t gone the way he likely would have hoped for. He started the year hot and looked as though he would reach 20 goals with relative ease. Since then, he has slowed down and battled a rib injury that held him out of the lineup for over a month.
Coach Green said of the decision to put Virtanen on the first line, “I like the bigger body and the speed on the forecheck that he provides.” Virtanen’s time on that line was short-lived, however, as Green made the decision in the second period and throughout the rest of the game to take Virtanen off the top line, reuniting him with Adam Gaudette.
Ryan Spooner was also given a shot on the top line as the game progressed, as Green did what he normally does when his team isn’t playing the way he wants them to — shake up the lines. Jake likely won’t get another opportunity on the first line in game 82 on Saturday, but hopefully, we are in for at least one more #ShotgunJake before the final horn of the season sounds.