Podkolzin, Hughes deliver strong performances
Despite the inconsistency in linemates, Podkolzin continued to build upon his impressive inaugural season, once again showcasing his speed, physicality and tenacity without the puck on Friday night.
The former 2019 first round selection was consistently in Columbus’s end and eventually finished the evening with two SOG and a Corsi For (CF) percentage of 84% in just over 15 minutes of ice time. Podkolzin also registered Vancouver’s first goal of the game thanks to yet another blistering wrist shot past the opposing netminder.
Podkolzin now has four goals and one assist in 19 games this year, including two points in his last four games.
Hughes was the other bright spot in an otherwise gloomy result.
With Travis Hamonic unavailable due to his current vaccination status, head coach Travis Green paired Hughes with Luke Schenn, who was playing his second game back since returning from an undisclosed injury.
Unlike Wednesday’s contest, Hughes was dominant on the ice, putting his smooth skating, high hockey IQ and strong puck-carrying skills on full display.
The former Calder Trophy nominee logged 25:40 of ice time as a result, just under three minutes ahead of the next busiest blueliner in Oliver Ekman-Larsson.
During that time, Hughes notched one hit, four SOG, a 71.43 CF% and one assist, marking his 15th point of the season.
Hughes’ helper also came at a timely manner with just 1:26 left in the middle frame. The 22-year-old was able to corral the puck at the blueline before releasing a quick, yet strong wrist shot that was eventually tipped by former Blue Jacket Tyler Motte before making its way past Elvis Merlikins.
Despite the individual success, both Hughes and Green credited his strong on-ice performance to Schenn, who has likely solidified his spot next to Hughes for the remainder of the road trip.
Schenn finished the night with two SOG, four hits and one block in just under 19 minutes.