The Vancouver Canucks’ hot start to the season has fizzled out over the last few days, and aside from defensive miscues, their lack of depth scoring has played a role in that. It’s time to get Anthony Beauvillier going again.
Beauvillier, acquired in the Bo Horvat trade from the New York Islanders, scored nine goals and 11 assists in 33 games with the Canucks last season. Over the course of an 82-game season, this pace would put him on track for a 50-point campaign, give or take.
Through five games of the 2023-24 season, Beauvillier is without a point, and has spent the bulk of his ice time with linemates Pius Suter and Dakota Joshua. This line has a 5-on-5 expected goals for percentage (xGF%) of just 37.59 percent and a below-average Corsi for percentage (CF%) of only 42 percent.
Without Joshua, Beauvillier and Suter drop to a 33.33 CF% and a 15.87 xGF%. Without Suter, Beauvillier and Joshua have a 40 CF% and a 0.00 xGF%, and Suter and Joshua together have a 18.18 CF% and a xGF% of 3.02. Effectively, there is not one combination of these three players that is working, and they are about as threatening offensively as an old lady’s barking chihuahua.
Head coach Rick Tocchet seems to have recognized this, but Beauvillier instead finds himself demoted to the fourth line alongside Sam Lafferty and Nils Hoglander. However, this is still an upgrade for the 26-year-old.
What worked for the Canucks last season?
In 33 games last year, Beauvillier had most of his success on the Canucks’ top line alongside Andrei Kuzmenko and Elias Pettersson. Before the former Islander arrived in Vancouver, Kuzmenko and Pettersson had a CF% 52.35 and an xGF% of 56.85. After Beauvillier was implemented on that line, those numbers jumped up to 54.15 and 58.18, respectively.
The Conor Garland trade debacle saw him take that spot on the top unit, and with rumours now cooling down he finds himself in Beauvillier’s old place next to Suter and Joshua. upon his return from a torn ACL, Ilya Mikheyev has now assumed the open position on the first line.
Tocchet and co. are certainly no strangers to experimentation, but they also need to find a way to get the most out of their struggling players. Cutting Beauvillier’s ice time and playing him in unfavorable and unfamiliar roles will only exacerbate the problem at hand.
*Advanced stats credit of Natural Stat Trick
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The Canucks do need to find some consistency and rhythm, and constantly flip-flopping lines won’t allow them to do that. However, Beauvillier also needs an opportunity to perform in a role more suited to his skillset.