Welcome to the Conor Garland show
The new guys definitely haven’t shied away from big performances so far.
It first started off with Oliver Ekman-Larsson, who appears to be on track for a bounce-back year after his impressive outing against the Oilers on Wednesday night, in which the Swedish blueliner notched one goal, three hits and four SOG in just under 24 minutes of ice time.
The spotlight stayed on the blueline, moving next to Kyle Burroughs. Although limited in TOI due to his third-pairing role, the 26-year-old still managed to impress, showcasing his offensive vision and natural ability to join the rush that has ultimately kept veteran Luke Schenn in the press box.
However, on Saturday afternoon, it was all about Conor Garland.
The 25-year-old winger has been one of Vancouver’s most dominant forwards so far, and easily had his best game of the year against Detroit.
For the third straight contest, Garland found himself on a line with Bo Horvat and Tanner Pearson, and has provided much of the energy and offensive prowess. Nothing against Horvat and Pearson, both of whom are slowly starting to pick up their own games after relatively quiet starts, but Garland has undoubtedly been the driving force of this trio to kick off the new hockey campaign.
And that didn’t change on Saturday.
Throughout the entire contest, Garland was elusive, creative and up-tempo, creating scoring opportunities on almost every shift, including a handful of chances for Pearson. The former 2015 fifth round selection is extremely crafty with the puck, and has the ability to twist and turn out of almost all situations, as seen here:
Despite not being able to register any assists, the former 2015 fifth round selection still found a way to help his team offensively with this accurate, deceptive and very-much planned laser beam from the goal line.
Garland found ways to contribute outside of the scoresheet as well. During the second period, Garland didn’t hesitate to join the post-whistle scrum after Givani Smith took a run at Ekman-Larsson.
The former Arizona Coyote, who only clocks in at 5’10” and 165 pounds, also showcased his own physicality and snarl with this reverse hit on Filip Zadina. Garland was able to establish body position first and didn’t utilize his elbow to deliver the hit but, as we all know, the Red Wings were not pleased with the interaction, turning Garland into public enemy #1 for the remainder of the final frame.
Yes, Canucks fans are probably still upset at how the referees handled all of the third period altercations, particularly the ones that were targeted at Garland, but the winger handled himself extremely well given the circumstances, and made one large step in cementing his position as a fan favourite in Vancouver.