Vancouver Canucks captain Bo Horvat has already seen many different wingers early on this season, but is in need of some stability. Help may just be on the way.
It’s a story that many had hoped would be put to rest after the offseason acquisitions of Micheal Ferland and J.T. Miller. Even Tanner Pearson was someone who looked promising on Bo Horvat’s wing in their short stint together at the end of last season.
Unfortunately for Horvat and the Canucks, the captain has yet to find linemates that have stuck with him this season. Much like his team, Horvat has had trouble to find ways to score as of late, and that’s a problem that can hopefully be fixed sooner, rather than later.
Horvat began the season with Pearson and Miller on his wings, but the trio was split up rather quickly. Miller moved up to the first line, which had a catalyst effect on Elias Pettersson and Brock Boeser. The three were one of the best lines in the league, and even got their own name: “The Lotto Line”.
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But when you lose four straight games, something is going to change, and head coach Travis Green made his changes. Due to Ferland being out with a concussion, Sven Baertschi was reunited on Horvat’s wing five weeks after being sent down to the AHL out of training camp.
Baertschi and Horvat have had chemistry in the past with one another, and at a time when it seemed like for a while the Canucks couldn’t buy a goal, everybody in and around the Canucks are hoping Horvat and Baertschi can once again find that chemistry.
Horvat has played with almost every winger on the Canucks this season, including Jake Virtanen, Adam Gaudette, Josh Leivo, Micheal Ferland, Tanner Pearson, and even Brock Boeser for a little bit when the lines were shaken up the first time this season.
Do you know who he hasn’t played with yet, though? Antoine Roussel.
The fiery Frenchman provided some, albeit a small amount, of stability for Horvat last season. The two gelled well together, and Roussel showed some great playmaking abilities before getting injured late last season. It was a scary-looking knee injury that has kept Roussel sidelined from the middle of March until now.
With him skating on his own and getting closer to returning (I’ve heard early December being tossed around loosely), Horvat could get a new linemate just in the nick of time. It would be most ideal for Roussel to pick up right where he left off last season, a career year for him in terms of points, and provide instant offence for the Canucks and help out Horvat.
The biggest and most immediate change to Horvat’s line, however, is that Miller has now been moved to it. The Lotto Line is broken up for now, and Miller, who was able to help get Boeser and Pettersson going, is now hoping to have a similar effect on Horvat.
One thing Miller himself said he brings to the table is that he can play anywhere up and down the lineup, and can even play center. This gives Green further ability to change things up quite a bit when his team is in a rut, and that’s exactly what the Canucks were in, a rut.
Wouldn’t you know it, the Canucks snapped their four game losing streak with last night’s win over the Nashville Predators — the first game since the big line shakeup. Horvat was tasked with playing thanks to Brandon Sutter and Jay Beagle both being out of the lineup, and like most tasks, Horvat was up to it, logging a little over 27 minutes of ice time.
The Canucks are hoping to get Horvat going any way they can, and something tells me that Roussel might just be the guy who can do it.