Pettersson doesn’t show up again, blueline depth isn’t good enough
What is going on with Elias Pettersson?
Pettersson has been a shell of his former self for much of the season, raising plenty of concern and questions from fans and coaching staff.
Similar to Saturday night, Green decided to play Pettersson on the third line with Brock Boeser and Jason Dickinson, hoping that this new trio might spark anything from his elite centre.
Another spoiler alert: it did not.
The former fifth overall pick was invisible yet again on Sunday night, further adding to his poor early season statistics.
Pettersson only logged 16:03 of ice time, ranking him a measly seventh-highest amongst all forwards. The former Calder Trophy winner also finished the night with a 33% faceoff success rate to go along with two SOG, bringing his road trip total to three registered shots.
In 16 games, Pettersson has recorded three goals and six assists, good for sixth in team scoring. What’s even more alarming is that only four of those points have come at 5-on-5, with Pettersson still searching for his first even strength goal of the campaign.
Who knows what’s going on with Pettersson right now, but it needs to change ASAP if the team wants any hope of salvaging this spiralling season.
The same could be said of the depth on defence.
Despite conceding 14 goals in their previous two contests, Vancouver wasn’t able to make many changes to the backend.
Green was once again without the services of Travis Hamonic, Tucker Poolman and Luke Schenn on the right side, forcing him to turn to Madison Bowey and Kyle Burroughs for the second consecutive contest.
The duo were good for 18:00 and 19:13 of ice time respectively, including over two minutes of penalty kill time for each, but definitely not by choice.
Green also wasn’t able to make any adjustments behind Hughes and Oliver Ekman-Larsson on the left side, once again rolling with Brad Hunt on the third-pairing. Hunt didn’t necessarily perform poorly on Saturday, registering an assist and a minus one rating in just over 14 minutes of ice time, but definitely isn’t the team’s top candidate to fill that left-handed spot on the third-pairing.
Unfortunately, with Motte’s return to the line-up, Green was forced to loan Jack Rathbone back to Abbotsford in order to make space on the 23-man roster. Rathbone last played on Thursday in Colorado, and could’ve been a much-needed spark for the team on Sunday.
At the end of the day, all teams will have to face personnel issues at some point in the season, whether it be through injury or suspension, and it’s no surprise that it’s happening yet again to Vancouver’s backend.
However, these key blueline absences have really put Vancouver’s defensive woes in the spotlight. Aside from Hughes, the team’s defencemen continue to have trouble moving the puck and maintaining possession, leading to numerous neutral zone turnovers and the overall inability to generate pressure in the offensive zone.
Yes, the Canucks will have Hamonic and Poolman back in the line-up on Wednesday, something that Green believes will have a huge impact on his club, but it’s still not going to fix the underlying depth issues.
The preseason buzz has worn off around Burroughs and Hunt.
Ekman-Larsson and Tyler Myers have returned back to reality with their steady, albeit average style of play.
Poolman will be back to playing well beyond his capabilities when he returns.
Hamonic will continue to be an issue on the road until his vaccination status is in compliance with the league rules.
Until all of this is sorted out, don’t expect Vancouver to bounce back defensively moving forward.
The Canucks will get some much-needed time off before a rematch against the Colorado Avalanche on Wednesday night at Rogers Arena. Puck drop is set for 6:00pm PST.
What are your thoughts after Sunday night’s loss in Anaheim? Let us know in the comments!