The Canuck Way Mailbag: Horvat, Hughes, Pearson, more

EDMONTON, ALBERTA - AUGUST 14: Bo Horvat #53 of the Vancouver Canucks scores the game winner at 5:55 of overtime against Jordan Binnington #50 of the St. Louis Blues in Game Two of the Western Conference First Round during the 2020 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Rogers Place on August 14, 2020 in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. The Canucks defeated the Blues 4-3 in overtime. (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images)
EDMONTON, ALBERTA - AUGUST 14: Bo Horvat #53 of the Vancouver Canucks scores the game winner at 5:55 of overtime against Jordan Binnington #50 of the St. Louis Blues in Game Two of the Western Conference First Round during the 2020 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Rogers Place on August 14, 2020 in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. The Canucks defeated the Blues 4-3 in overtime. (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images) /
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Tanner Pearson #70 of the Vancouver Canucks celebrates a power-play goal (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images)
Tanner Pearson #70 of the Vancouver Canucks celebrates a power-play goal (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images) /

More exciting mailbag Q&A

My answer has to be Tanner Pearson. He was my choice for the unsung hero of the regular season, but if the playoffs have proved anything up to this point it’s that Pearson is a great addition to the team’s supporting cast.

Alongside the captain and Loui Eriksson of all people, Pearson hasn’t skipped a beat. After looking awful in game 1 versus the Wild (where he gave up two bad penalties), Pearson has refound his true self by shooting the puck well and playing great man-to-man coverage in the defensive end.

With already six points (3 goals, 3 assists) in just as many games, Pearson has been the perfect winger for Horvat and could honestly be leading this team altogether if it wasn’t for a couple of pucks that barely missed the target.

Could you imagine what Pearson and Horvat would be capable of with a healthy Tyler Toffoli on the opposing wing? It would be absolutely lethal. I’m very excited to see what he does moving forward. His Stanley Cup experience is really paying off right now.

At this point, turning to Jake Allen wouldn’t be the worst idea for St. Louis. I wouldn’t wait any longer and I have a couple of reasons to back that up. First off, Jordan Binnington has been a shadow of his former self. Since entering the bubble, Binnington and the Blues are winless in five straight games. He’s sporting a 4.27GAA with a 0.862SV% over that span. Simply unacceptable for a team that’s trying to defend its title.

Allen, on the other hand, has been a solid backup all season who actually carried better numbers than the team’s No. 1 goaltender. In 24 regular-season games played this year, Allen posted a career-high in both SV% (0.927) and GAA (2.15) all while earning 12 wins and 2 shutouts. Both better numbers than Binnington.

By entering Allen in game 3, St. Louis either gets a hot goaltender along with a win, or they lose the game and return to Binnington who will then have a fire lit under him from getting benched. It gives them a fresh goaltender looking to take over, and it gives Binnington a chance to refocus and reset. If they wait for another game it may be too little too late. The time to make a goaltender swap is now.

This is a good question. If Jordie Benn didn’t leave the bubble for the birth of his daughter Billie, I’d put my bank account of him slotting in for Tyler Myers. He has the experience, the grit, and can work equally from both sides. He’s the best option for the third and final RD spot, but some rust may still need shaking off.

Olli Juolevi got his big debut when the Canucks finished off the Wild, but he was sheltered to just over six minutes of ice time. In those limited minutes though, Juolevi surprised a lot of people and played a very smart, very well-positioned defensive game.

It’s a scary thought to have if Myers is in fact sidelined for the longterm, but from what I saw out of Juolevi versus the Wild, he can handle another game or two in a similar capacity while the burly Benn works himself back into game shape. If it were me making the decisions I’d go with Juolevi only until Benn is good and ready (unless Juolevi plays great).

But don’t be shocked if Travis Green decides to go with a right-handed shot for the right side spot. He’s not a big fan of doing it any other way, so I could honestly see him slotting in Brogan Rafferty or Jalen Chatfield for the time being.