Special teams not so special
The heading says it all.
The Canucks didn’t fare well in either special teams department on Tuesday night, losing both the powerplay and penalty kill battles.
Vancouver wasn’t very disciplined against Seattle, taking seven penalties throughout the evening, while also giving up two shorthanded tallies in the process. As previously noted, the Canucks are without a handful of key penalty kill forwards like Sutter and Motte, but are also trying to figure out their blueline as well.
As expected, Tyler Myers and Oliver Ekman-Larsson led the shorthanded charge, with each player logging around seven minutes of ice time while down a man. The larger issue, however, came on the team’s second penalty kill unit.
As we all know, the Canucks need to find replacements for Nate Schmidt, Travis Hamonic and Alex Edler, all of whom were shorthanded regulars last season. Ekman-Larsson has filled the skates for Edler, taking on almost the exact roles and responsibilities of his Swedish counterpart, but the jury is still out on who can take over for Schmidt and Hamonic, especially if the latter misses a handful of regular season games.
On Tuesday night, Green opted for a pairing of Olli Juolevi and Luke Schenn on the second unit, with both players finishing the night with a minus one rating. Jack Rathbone and Kyle Burroughs also briefly found themselves in a shorthanded role, as has Brad Hunt and Tucker Poolman in previous contests.
The penalty kill auditions will likely be ongoing until the conclusion of the preseason, and could very well decide which left-shot blueliner out of Juolevi, Rathbone and Hunt will land the final spot on the team’s third-pairing.
Unfortunately, the powerplay didn’t fare much better on Tuesday night either, with the Canucks going scoreless on four attempts.
Bo Horvat and Nils Höglander carried the first powerplay unit for much of the evening, and were actually able to create a handful of good scoring chances, but just unfortunately ran into a sharp netminder in Philipp Grubauer.
Fortunately, this area shouldn’t be of too much concern for the team moving forward, especially since players like Brock Boeser, Quinn Hughes, Elias Pettersson and J.T. Miller were all watching from the press box on Tuesday night.
However, the Canucks will definitely need to reignite their powerplay units this upcoming season, especially given how well they played back in 2019-20, and it could be an area of concern if the team doesn’t come out of the gate on the right foot come October 13th.
- Unlike Vancouver, Seattle dressed an NHL-ready roster on Tuesday night, their final preseason contest of the year. The Kraken finished the preseason with a record of 4-2, and will now begin preparations for their inaugural regular season opener against the Vegas Golden Knights on October 12th.
- As mentioned, Pettersson and Hughes took in Tuesday night’s game from the sidelines, but that shouldn’t be the case for the remainder of the preseason. During the team media availability on Tuesday afternoon, Green confirmed that the two young stars will likely dress for the final two preseason contests.
The Canucks will continue their preseason journey against the Edmonton Oilers on Thursday night. Puck drop is set for 6pm PST.
What were your thoughts on Tuesday night’s game against Seattle? Let us know in the comments!