The Vancouver Canucks are slowly rounding back into form, and it’s thanks in large part to the scoring from the second to fourth lines.
For the second straight year, the month of November was brutal for the Vancouver Canucks, and it simply couldn’t have ended soon enough for head coach Travis Green and company.
Vancouver entered the month with a superb 8-3-1 record. They left it with a mere 13-10-4 record, winning three of their final five games in November to avoid a major disaster. Still, plenty of damage had been done.
But the Canucks are finally starting to turn things around, having picked up victories in three of their last four games. They thoroughly dominated the Ottawa Senators 5-2 at Rogers Arena on Tuesday night, before pulling off a thrilling 6-5 overtime victory against the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday.
Vancouver’s goaltending hasn’t been as sharp over the past two weeks, but that’s due in large part to the many defensive breakdowns and miscues by the blueliners. Thankfully, the secondary scoring has helped the team stay afloat and regain their old October form.
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The Lotto Line — consisting of Elias Pettersson, Brock Boeser and J.T. Miller — has been virtually unstoppable. As usual, Bo Horvat is providing more than enough secondary offence with eight goals and 24 points.
But the top four forwards were always going to lead the way offensively. The key to the Canucks’ strong play up to this point is thanks in large part to the contributions from the bottom-nine forwards.
Tanner Pearson (eight goals, 19 points), Jake Virtanen (seven goals, 15 points) and Josh Leivo (six goals, 16 points) are providing the much-needed secondary scoring this team has lacked for the better part of the decade. All three of them are going to push hard for 20-plus goals this season.
Adam Gaudette has been a force offensively as well. He’s up to six goals and 13 points in 20 games, and coach Green has to start using him more down the road. Oh, and Antoine Roussel only has three goals in two games since his return.
By the time the regular season comes to a close, the Canucks could have anywhere from five to seven 20-goal scorers. And this is before we mention that blueliner Quinn Hughes is having a huge rookie year with 24 points in 29 games.
Entering play on Sunday, the Canucks ranked sixth in goals for (100) and eighth in goals per game (3.33). For once, Vancouver isn’t relying on its top line (and Horvat) to do the bulk of the scoring. Everybody is contributing in some way.
Now, Vancouver can’t rely on offence alone to win games. The blue line has to clean it up a bit, because Jacob Markstrom and Thatcher Demko aren’t going to stand on their heads every night. But if the secondary scoring remains intact, the Canucks will continue to make a serious push at the Pacific Division here in 2019-20.