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Vancouver Canucks: Early Season Takeaways

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The season is young and the Canucks are buzzing. Although they lost to Edmonton in a shootout and Detroit in regulation things are looking bright for the young Canucks. They have shown grit and skill to start which is not a usual trend in Vancouver. With many bright spots to start the season, this Canucks fans have fans wondering what can be?

New Kids on The Block

This season the Canucks got a face look of sorts. They acquired Conor Garland and Oliver Ekman-Larsson from the Arizona Coyotes, as well as Jason Dickinson from the Dallas Stars. During a busy free agency, they signed Tucker Poolman, Justin Dowling, Jaroslav Halak, Kyle Burroughs, Nic Petan, among more who have yet to suit up.

Of the new additions, some have stood out above others. Backup goaltender Jaroslav Halak has started one of the Canucks first four games allowing two goals on 20 shots. Although he did not stand out in his first start the veteran goaltender’s influence in Vancouver could be felt for years to come. Halak is Vancouver to take some pressure off off Thatcher Demko in some aspect teach the young goalie a thing or two. Through the first three games of the season, Poolman’s impact was not felt on the score sheet, but the young defenceman averaged three block shots a game and 20:30 of ice-time while playing alongside Quinn Hughes. Liks Poolman, Dickinson’s impact has not been felt on the score sheet, but he has stepped in and played Brandon Sutter‘s role better than Brandon Sutter. Helping man the penalty kill and playing on the shutdown line Dickinson does have a 36.7 faceoff percentage which will need to change for the Canucks to have continued success.

The former Coyotes have stepped up big for the Canucks. Ekam-Larsson came into Vancouver as one of if not the most overpaid player in the NHL. Although he will always have overpayment hanging over his head all he can do is play, which he has. He has averaged 24:31 minutes of ice-time through the first three games as well as scoring the first goal of the season against the Oilers, he also notched an assist against the Flyers. As for Garland, what doesn’t he do? Garland seems to be one of the hardest-working players on the ice at all times, throwing his body around as well as finding himself on the score sheet. When on the ice he gets under his opponent’s skin all game, ask Tyler Bertuzzi and Travis Konecny. Garland can also be played on any of the Canucks four lines and any special team’s line. The early indication on Garland is he is the next Alexandre Burrows.

Returning Players

The Canucks only had nine returning players to their roster this season, including forwarding Brock Boeser who did not play until game four against the Buffalo Sabres. J.T. Miller has the sneaky points lead through with five points in four games, while Hughes, Elias Pettersson, and Nils Hoglander all have a goal and an assist each. Captain Bo Horvat also has a goal and assist but his faceoff percentage is sitting under 50 percent early in the season. The forward core is taking their time heating but with due time, they should find the back of the more often.

As for Tyler Myers, much like Ekman-Larsson Myers makes more money than his production on the ice entails. Although game one of the season Myers laid a vicious hit on now Oilers defenceman Duncan Keith much to the pleasure of Canucks fans. He added an assist against the Flyers. The big man from Texas has one point and a hit felt by every Canucks fan’s heart to open the season.

Starting goaltender Thatcher Demko has been off to a hot start saving 63 of 69 shots against him to start the season. Demko seems to be out to prove to the league he can be a top goalie and potentially make the cut for Team USA come February.

Rookies Showing Up

The Canucks have two rookies taking the ice to start the season in defenceman Jack Rathbone and highly anticipated Russian forward Vasily Podkolzin. Although early in the season both Podkolzin and Rathbone are at the mercy of coach Travis Green. Rathbone is averaging 12:59 of ice time a game while Podkolzin is averaging just 8:08 of ice time a game. Although Green seems to ease the young Canucks to play, Podkolzin scored his first career goal early in the second period against the Flyers, then green proceeded to bench Podkolzin for the third period. The only way these guys will get better is by seeing the ice more, not riding the bench during crunch time. The rookies need to start seeing more ice time to be efficient.

Final Takeaways

The Canucks are young and exciting. The core group of Hughes, Pettersson, Horvat, Boeser and Miller need to pick up their play if the Canucks hope to make a run this season. While the new guys such as Garland, Ekman-Larsson, and Halak just need to keep doing their thing. The rookies need to see more meaningful limits, but hey, I’m not the coach. Finally, the Fans just need to stand behind their team and support them. The Canucks are young, fast, talented, and now gritty. Big things are on the horizon for the Canucks and their time is fast approaching.

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