Canucks: Patience with Pearson paid dividends and should do the same with Leivo

VANCOUVER, BC - APRIL 2: Tanner Pearson #70 of the Vancouver Canucks is congratulated by teammates after scoring during their NHL game against the San Jose Sharks at Rogers Arena April 2, 2019 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images)
VANCOUVER, BC - APRIL 2: Tanner Pearson #70 of the Vancouver Canucks is congratulated by teammates after scoring during their NHL game against the San Jose Sharks at Rogers Arena April 2, 2019 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images) /
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The Vancouver Canucks remained patient with Tanner Pearson by keeping him in the top 6 group and are starting to be rewarded for it.

Head coach Travis Green has had to switch the line blender on at various times of this recent road trip as the Vancouver Canucks have continued to struggle with consistently producing at 5v5. However, he has stuck with Pearson being a key contributor despite his own struggles.

On Saturday night, Pearson took 11 shots and started to watch his shooting percentage increase to 9.6% on the season. When you look at the scoring chances and quality of shots that Pearson has been generating, it was clear that he was more unlucky than unproductive.

According to Natural Stat Trick, Pearson has generated 4.26 individual expected goals for (ixG). This would place him fourth on the Canucks behind only Brock Boeser, Bo Horvat, and Jake Virtanen respectively. He also is second on the Canucks for most scoring chances outside of the shootout (iSCF) with 48.

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It was merely a matter of time until the puck bounces would go his way again. It could have been easy to write him off from Horvat’s wing and give the opportunity to others, but, Pearson is actually producing rather well with the Canuck captain. Having 10 points over his last 10 games played, Pearson is on pace to score 27 goals in 82 games in a Canucks uniform.

With that Green’s patience being rewarded, one could look for another breakout player with strong underlying numbers that is just looking to breakout. Insert Josh Leivo.

Leivo is the only Canucks player that surpasses Pearson in iSCF with 55 scoring chances. Much to the chagrin of many Canucks fans, Leivo has been oft used on the second power play unit. It is well known that Leivo is much more of a shooter than a playmaker.

Generating the third most shots attempted of anyone on the roster, Leivo does possess a great shot but that’s not all that he contributes to the power play, as he is tied for 7 rebounds created thus far. The second power play unit attacks the net quickly and boasts multiple faceoff options between Leivo and Adam Gaudette.

As it was with Pearson, it could be easy to want to pull Leivo from the offensive opportunities that he has been given up to this point, but Leivo needs a little patience as well. If he continues to be given chances to produce points, eventually his work habits will breakout. Leivo’s puck luck should return and yield more dividends for Travis Green.