Pass it to Bulis

Pass it to Bulis is Harrison Mooney and Daniel Wagner. The official Canucks blog of the Vancouver Courier, PITB is also the only blog that knows who needs the puck.
  • IWTG: Canucks can't stop Nathan MacKinnon after forcing overtime in thrilling comeback

    I don’t mean to alarm anyone, but the Canucks have lost more games than they’ve won this season. With Saturday’s overtime loss to the Colorado Avalanche, the Canucks are now 10-7-4, which means they’ve won 10 games and lost 11. It’s certainly some consolation that they’ve been able to squeeze a point out of four of those losses, but it’s certainly disconcerting. The Canucks have now lost six of their last seven games and, while it’s not time to hit the panic button, it might be worth moving towards it while trying to act casual, then lightly rest your hand on the molly-guard encasing the panic button, ready to lift the guard and press the button at a moment's notice, just in case.

    Daniel WagnerNovember 17, 2019

  • IWTG: Stars frustrate the Canucks to continue November's woes

    “October extinguished itself in a rush of howling winds and driving rain and November arrived, cold as frozen iron.” That was J.K. Rowling in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, but she may as well have been writing about the 2019-20 Canucks season. October was going so well, then November showed up and extinguished the good times like a candle in a Jack O’Lantern at the end of Halloween. The Canucks have won just two of eight games in November, with a 2-4-2 record. November has taken its toll in injuries, taking two centres out of the lineup in Brandon Sutter and Jay Beagle, and taken its toll in fatigue, as players have had to play big minutes against tough opponents.

    Daniel WagnerNovember 15, 2019

  • Brock Boeser is still sniping goals, but his well-rounded game is leading the way

    Brock Boeser took the pass from Elias Pettersson down the left wing. The Winnipeg Jets defenceman, Neal Pionk, closed quickly, knowing that if Boeser got room to shoot, he could pick a corner and give the Vancouver Canucks the lead. Then Boeser did something unexpected: he lowered his shoulder into Pionk, knocking the defenceman off stride. Boeser spun off the contact with the puck, then cut back, sending Pionk flailing wildly past him. That opened up a passing lane to Troy Stecher, who was trailing the play. A moment later, Stecher sent a back door pass to J.T. Miller for a tap-in goal. Brock Boeser is known primarily for his deadly wrist shot, but as the 2019-20 season has progressed, he’s proven that he’s more than just a one-trick pony.

    Daniel WagnerNovember 14, 2019

  • Canucks call up Zack MacEwen and Tyler Graovac in wake of injuries to bottom-six

    Injuries are unavoidable in an NHL season, even if it seems the Canucks have had more than their fair share over the years. November is around when those injuries start to crop up, as the wear and tear of the season begins to set in. That’s likely part of the reason the Canucks have had such a lousy record in the month of November in recent years, as injuries have exposed their lack of depth. The Canucks have to hope that their improved depth this season will be enough, as the injuries are beginning. The first significant injury of the season appears to be to Brandon Sutter.

    Daniel WagnerNovember 13, 2019

  • IWTG: Canucks get back to winning ways with powerplay-fueled win over Predators

    Happy Birthday, Elias Pettersson. The Canucks superstar centre turned 21 on Tuesday, which boggles the mind. Prior to reaching his 21st birthday, Pettersson had already become one of the best players in the NHL, tied for 10th in NHL scoring with none other than Alex Ovechkin. It’s wild to think that Pettersson isn’t even in his prime yet. This is the pre-prime Pettersson. He’s the beta test that is already one of the best video games you’ve ever played. He’s the leaked demo that immediately goes on all your playlists. He’s the movie trailer that gets nominated for an Oscar.

    Daniel WagnerNovember 13, 2019

  • Canucks continue to rotate Bo Horvat’s linemates, hoping to find 5-on-5 scoring

    From one perspective, Bo Horvat is having an excellent season. He’s fourth on the team in scoring with six goals and 14 points in 18 games, putting him on-pace for 27 goals and 64 points, which would match or best his career highs from last season. Even if you look at his underlying numbers at 5-on-5, Horvat is excelling. His corsi percentage is the highest its ever been at 54.7%, which is right behind the top line of J.T. Miller, Elias Pettersson, and Brock Boeser among Canucks forwards. There’s just one problem: Horvat isn’t scoring at even-strength.

    Daniel WagnerNovember 12, 2019

  • Millennials killed Coach’s Corner

    When I was a kid, I thought Don Cherry knew everything about hockey. My family didn’t have cable, so my hockey fandom was reliant on three sources: hockey cards, Hockey Night in Canada, and Don Cherry’s Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em. Hockey Night in Canada was the only time I was able to watch NHL hockey and Don Cherry was a central figure. The refrains of the Coach’s Corner theme song during the intermissions let me know that the titular coach was about to dispense some wisdom. He would always take the time to talk to “you kids out there” and I felt like he was talking directly to me.

    Daniel WagnerNovember 11, 2019

  • IWTG: Brock Boeser snipes one, but Mackenzie Blackwood stops the rest as Devils quash the Canucks

    The first meeting between Quinn and Jack Hughes was a little underwhelming. While it did boast a big moment for the Hughes’ brothers — Jack’s first career NHL goal — it lacked a little in the entertainment department. Jack’s was the only goal of the game and the two teams combined for just 49 shots, the fewest shots in a Canucks game this season. Heck, the Canucks had 49 shots by themselves a few games later against the Los Angeles Kings. So, would the sequel offer a little more entertainment value? Would it land among the all-time great sequels — Hughes Trek II: The Wrath of Quinn — or would it be among the worst — Hughes Bigalow: European Gigolo.

    Daniel WagnerNovember 10, 2019

  • IWTG: Connor Hellebuyck steals goals and the show in Jets win over Canucks

    November was always going to be a tough month for the Canucks. It always is. Over the last four seasons, the Canucks’ record in November is 19-29-9, a pace of just 68 points over 82 games. In other words, they’ve performed like a last-place team in the month of November. This season’s edition of November is particularly tough, featuring 15 games in 30 days, giving the team little time to res, as well as tougher opponents compared to October’s easier schedule. But this season’s edition of the Canucks is also a lot tougher, with a high-powered offence, improved defence, and a one-two punch of solid goaltending. If any Canucks team could disrupt the November narrative, this one could.

    Daniel WagnerNovember 8, 2019

  • IWTG: Blackhawks cancel Canucks' point streak, Chris Tanev is hurt again

    I believe Han Solo said it best: “Don’t get cocky.” The Canucks’ point streak had to end sometime. They went into Chicago with points in eight-straight games and the best goal differential in the Western Conference. They left with their fourth loss in regulation of the season and, well, still the best goal differential in the Western Conference, because man, they really built up a lead in that department. Perhaps the Canucks were taking the challenge presented by the Chicago Blackhawks a little lightly. The Blackhawks came into the game with a 4-7-3 record, with two of their four wins coming in overtime. They’re one of the lowest-scoring teams in the NHL.

    Daniel WagnerNovember 8, 2019

  • Canucks have been at their most dangerous off the rush

    Over the last four seasons, the Canucks have been the lowest-scoring team in the NHL, leading to the perennial question: “Who’s going to score goals?” The Canucks’ 2.44 goals per game over the last four seasons was dead last, just a bit below the Arizona Coyotes, Buffalo Sabres, and New Jersey Devils. Even in the best of those four seasons — the 2018-19 seasons — the Canucks only averaged 2.67 goals per game, which still ranked them 26th in the NHL. This season, however, the Canucks’ offence has been like Will Smith’s life: flipped, turned upside down.

    Daniel WagnerNovember 7, 2019

  • Alex Edler and Tyler Myers are one of the best defence pairings in the NHL

    Take one aging veteran defenceman, whose injuries have taken a toll on him in recent years. Even as he’s continued to put up points, his play has quietly been on the decline. Add a big-name free agent defenceman, whose signing was excoriated by the hockey analytics world, as he’s consistently given up far more defensively than he ever contributes offensively. Put them together and what do you get? One of the best defence pairings in the NHL.

    Daniel WagnerNovember 7, 2019

  • IWTG: Bizarro overtime 3-on-0 provides weird finish to hard-fought Canucks loss to the Blues

    There has just been one nagging question about the Canucks’ hot start: their schedule. Through their first 14 games of the season, the Canucks faced just four teams that made the playoffs last season. While they’ve dominated some of the lesser lights in the NHL this season, there has been that one issue just hanging around annoyingly like Navi in Zelda: Ocarina of Time. How will the Canucks handle the tougher parts of the schedule? Will the game that’s been so effective against the likes of the Los Angeles Kings and Detroit Red Wings still work against the teams that are true Stanley Cup contenders? Despite the loss to the St. Louis Blues on Tuesday, the answer appears to be unequivocally yes.

    Daniel WagnerNovember 6, 2019

  • Sutter and Leivo might be the winning combination for secondary scoring for the Canucks

    The Canucks’ first line of Brock Boeser, Elias Pettersson, and J.T. Miller is one of the best lines in hockey. Together, they have utterly dominated their opponents. Pettersson is now sixth in the NHL in scoring and was named the NHL’s first star of the week after racking up 9 points in 4 games. Boeser and Miller are not far behind, at 15th and 19th in NHL scoring, respectively. A few other players, however, have been big contributors to the Canucks’ offensive surge to start the season. At 5-on-5, the three forwards right behind Pettersson, Boeser, and Miller in scoring are Brandon Sutter, Josh Leivo, and Jake Virtanen.

    Daniel WagnerNovember 5, 2019

  • IWTG: Canucks beach the Sharks with two goals from Elias Pettersson

    The San Jose Sharks are falling apart. They lost four-straight games to start the season and had lost another four in a row heading into Saturday’s game against the Vancouver Canucks. That includes a 5-2 loss to the awful Ottawa Senators, who have won just three games all season. The Sharks are now dead last in the Western Conference, with the second-worst goal differential in the NHL at minus-20. Sharks blog Fear the Fin is full of articles with titles like Everything is bad, What’s wrong with the Sharks?, and Rock bottom. Morale is low.

    Daniel WagnerNovember 3, 2019

  • IWTG: Canucks can't crack John Gibson, succumb to Ducks in overtime

    Never mind the game, is Quinn Hughes okay? With five minutes remaining in the first period, Hughes went down to the ice on what looked like a pretty routine play. He wasn’t tripped or hit by . . .

    Daniel WagnerNovember 2, 2019

  • Canucks call up Sven Baertschi, but weather delays could keep him out of the lineup

    It looks like Micheal Ferland could be out for a little while. The gritty winger suffered an upper-body injury and didn’t play another shift after dropping the gloves with Kyle Clifford in Wednesday night’s game against the Los Angeles Kings. Fortunately, the Canucks have some good depth that they can call on with the Utica Comets — legitimate, NHL-caliber depth that, quite frankly, shouldn’t be in the AHL. Sven Baertschi has been called up from the Comets and is making his way to California to join the team.

    Daniel WagnerNovember 1, 2019

  • If the Canucks can survive November, they might just be a playoff team

    The Canucks rolled through October like kids on Halloween through the neighbourhood that gives out full-size chocolate bars: they were racking up big wins at pretty much every stop. Their 8-3-1 record has them second in the Western Conference and sixth in the NHL in points percentage. They currently sit second in the Pacific Division, with two games in hand on the first place Edmonton Oilers, who have started to show some warts after their hot start, losing to Florida Panthers and Detroit Red Wings teams that the Canucks blew out of the water. October has been good to the Canucks in recent years. In fact, in each of the last four seasons, the Canucks were in playoff position at the end of October. In 2015-16 and 2018-19, they were even first in the Pacific Division after the first month of the season.

    Daniel WagnerOctober 31, 2019

  • Elias Pettersson is building a more sustainable foundation for future success

    One of the little-discussed secrets of Elias Pettersson’s rookie season is that he was extremely unlikely to repeat his incredible performance. The Canucks’ phenom came roaring out of the gate, scoring a highlight-reel goal on the first shot of his career. He had 10 goals in his first 10 games, leading to comparisons to some of the all-time greats in NHL history. Even though he slowed down in the back half of the season, he broke franchise records and led all rookies in scoring by six goals and 21 points. There was just one issue: the rate at which he scored goals just wasn’t sustainable.

    Daniel WagnerOctober 31, 2019

  • IWTG: Pettersson's passing and Boeser's hat trick lead Canucks over the Kings

    At one point in the recent past, the California road trip was one to be feared by the Canucks, an appropriate trip to begin on the eve of Halloween. The trio of California teams were a dominant force in the Pacific Division, each of them a heavy, physical team that also possessed an abundance of skill. The California road trip was like running a gauntlet: you hoped to survive as much or more than win. Now, however, the California teams are a shadow of their former selves.

    Daniel WagnerOctober 31, 2019

  • The Canucks are one of the best faceoff teams in the league (with help from a winger)

    You would expect a team with Manny Malhotra as an assistant coach would be good in the faceoff circle. The former enabler was a beast in the faceoff circle in his NHL career, with multiple seasons above a 60% success rate and finishing with a 56.4% faceoff for his career, which is good for 16th-best all-time since the NHL started tracking faceoff statistics. It’s fitting, then, that the Canucks are one of the best faceoff teams in the NHL, with a 54.9% faceoff percentage, second behind only the Philadelphia Flyers. It helps that they have Jay Beagle, one of just a few active NHLers with a career faceoff percentage better than Malhotra’s.

    Daniel WagnerOctober 30, 2019

  • Catching up with the Canucks’ former defencemen from last season

    The biggest overhaul of the offseason for the Canucks came on defence. Half of their starting six are new to the team this season, apart from Quinn Hughes’ five-game stint at the end of last season. Even their seventh defenceman, Oscar Fantenberg, is new to the team. That means they’ve moved on from a number of other defencemen from last season, some of which were with the team for years, while others for just a couple months.

    Daniel WagnerOctober 29, 2019

  • Canucks prospect Nils Höglander scored an absolutely insane “lacrosse” goal in the SHL

    Nils Höglander just scored the goal of the year. The competition is over, we’re calling it now, no other goals need apply. Heck, he just scored the goal of several years. For the next few seasons, every list of the year’s top goals has to have Höglander’s goal at number one.

    Daniel WagnerOctober 29, 2019

  • IWTG: Everybody gets involved as Canucks rout the Panthers

    After Friday’s debacle against the Washington Capitals, you’d think the last thing the Canucks would want to do is take a 5-1 lead. Really, that’s just tempting fate: you already gave up a 5-1 lead a few days ago and now you want to risk doing so again? That’s just foolhardy. And yet, there the Canucks were in the first period, tempting fate in every way possible. With a minute left in the first period, they were up 4-1, a nice, safe lead. A respectable lead that you can take home and introduce to your parents.

    Daniel WagnerOctober 29, 2019

  • Little lineup change for the Canucks on Monday: Loui Eriksson is back in

    The Canucks have started the season with a solid 6-3-1 record, putting them right in the thick of things in the Pacific Division. Most impressively, they’ve gotten off to this start without their highest-paid forward. Okay, maybe impressive isn’t the word. The Canucks’ highest-paid forward is Loui Eriksson, whose time in Vancouver has been marked by disappointment and a gradually-diminishing role on the team.

    Daniel WagnerOctober 28, 2019

  • IWTG: Canucks lose four-goal lead late, fall in shootout to the Capitals

    Everything that was going right, went wrong. The power play gave up a shorthanded goal. Bounces went straight onto Capitals sticks and into the back of the net. Markstrom turned into a pumpkin, giving up three goals on six shots. And the refs swallowed their whistles, letting a couple clear calls against the Capitals go. It was a car crash. And, like a car crash, I couldn’t look away when I watched this game.

    Daniel WagnerOctober 26, 2019

  • Canucks send Adam Gaudette down to the AHL, because they wouldn’t stop winning

    Adam Gaudette gave the Canucks little choice with his play in the preseason: how could they cut Gaudette after he led the Canucks in goals with four in six games? The one obstacle to keeping him up in the NHL was his waiver status: as one of the few forwards exempt from waivers, it would have been easy to send him down and keep up a waiver eligible forward instead. Instead, the Canucks cleared that obstacle by waiving Sven Baertschi, Nikolay Goldobin, and Alex Biega to keep Gaudette on the roster. Sending Gaudette to the Utica Comets would have been a hard sell heading into the season. Now, however, as the Canucks have won four of their last five games without Gaudette in the lineup, it’s a lot easier: the Canucks sent Gaudette to the AHL on Thursday.

    Daniel WagnerOctober 24, 2019

  • Jacob Markstrom and Thatcher Demko have been the biggest reason for the Canucks’ strong start

    A lot has to go right for the Canucks to make the 2020 playoffs. Elias Pettersson has to be even better in his sophomore season than he was as a rookie. The team’s overhauled defence has to quickly gel together in their all-new pairings. High-priced trade acquisition J.T. Miller has to perform in a top-six role. Early in the season, most of those things have gone right. Pettersson has struggled to get his goalscoring going, but is still a better-than point-per-game player, the defence looks much-improved from last season, and Miller has quickly exceeded expectations, tied for the team lead in points. As of result, the Canucks have won six of their last seven games and are sitting fourth in the Western Conference, with a plus-11 goal differential that ranks third in the NHL. They wouldn’t be anywhere near that spot in the standings, however, without the goaltending of Jacob Markstrom and Thatcher Demko.

    Daniel WagnerOctober 24, 2019

  • The Prospector: Kole Lind’s playmaking and agitation has him off to a hot start in Utica

    It’s hard to understate just how dominant the Utica Comets have been to start the AHL season. Through five games, the Comets are undefeated. They lead the league in both goal scoring and goals against, out-scoring their opponents 29-to-11. One of their most dominant wins was an 8-2 drubbing of the defending Calder Cup champion Charlotte Checkers. This dominance shouldn’t be entirely surprising, given their offensive attack is led by a couple players that arguably shouldn’t be in the AHL — Sven Baertschi and Nikolay Goldobin — as well as one of the top goalscorers in the AHL last season, Reid Boucher. Those three forwards are first, second, and third in points per game, while Boucher leads the AHL with 8 goals in 5 games. Beyond those three, however, it’s the performance of Kole Lind that is the most encouraging. Lind is currently fourth in scoring on the Comets behind Boucher, Goldobin, and Baertschi, with 7 points in 5 games.

    Daniel WagnerOctober 23, 2019

  • IWTG: Bo Horvat's hattrick caps off come-from-behind Canucks win over Red Wings

    This road trip couldn’t have gone much better for the Canucks. Any time you can take three out of four games on the road, you have to be satisfied. There were some bumps along the way — some wrinkles to iron out, rough edges to sand smooth, and snags to...well, unsnag — you can’t argue with the results. The team was looking forward to playing more games after a soft start to the schedule and they made the most of the opportunity.

    Daniel WagnerOctober 22, 2019

  • Why would the Canucks consider trading Troy Stecher?

    The word of the day is “rumblings.” On an appearance on the Halford and Brough show on TSN 1040, Bob McKenzie confirmed that he too has heard “rumblings” that the Canucks were exploring a Troy Stecher trade in the offseason. “We’ve heard rumblings that Stecher’s not all that happy, we’ve heard rumblings that Stecher was a name that was in trade rumours this off season,” said Jason Brough.”Have you heard his name at all in trade rumours?” “The same low rumble that you’ve heard,” replied McKenzie.

    Daniel WagnerOctober 22, 2019

  • Elias Pettersson hasn’t started a single shift in the defensive zone at 5-on-5 this season

    One of the most impressive elements of Elias Pettersson’s fantastic rookie season was that it wasn’t one-dimensional. He did more than just break Canucks rookie records for scoring; he also showed an aptitude for defending that eludes most 20-year-old rookies. That’s what makes it surprising that in his sophomore season, he’s being sheltered defensively to a very unusual degree. Not a single one of his 141 shifts at 5-on-5 has started in the defensive zone.

    Daniel WagnerOctober 21, 2019

  • IWTG: Canucks dominate Rangers early and cling to one-goal lead late

    The Canucks have had a fairly easy schedule to start the season, with long breaks between games to ensure they’ve been well-rested every single game. That changed on this road trip, with one of the toughest turnarounds for a Western Conference team: back-to-back afternoon games on the east coast. If the Canucks were feeling the fatigue of jetlag, travel, and the odd start time, they didn’t show it to start the game. They dominated the first two periods, out-shooting the Rangers 37-to-23. For 40 minutes, the Rangers looked like they didn’t even belong in the same league as the Canucks, who poured on the pressure like syrup on the waffles they’d normally be eating for brunch at that time on the west coast. Then, when the Rangers turned the tables in the third and dominated the Canucks just as thoroughly, Jacob Markstrom was magnificent.

    Daniel WagnerOctober 20, 2019

  • IWTG: Jack Hughes scores first NHL goal as his Devils hold off Quinn's Canucks

    The much-ballyhooed Hughes-a-palooza didn’t exactly live up to the hype. Sure, in one sense, it literally did, as Jack Hughes scored his first NHL goal and it stood up as the game-winner. He fired the first shot in what is sure to be a career-long battle between the two Hughes brothers, with youngest brother Luke making it a three-way war in a few years, like Oceania, Eurasia, and Eastasia.

    Daniel WagnerOctober 19, 2019

  • Hughes vs Hughes: The tale of the tape for Jack and Quinn

    A little ditty ‘bout Jack and Quinn Hughes: two American kids growing up in the Centre of the U. For the first time in the NHL, the two oldest Hughes brothers will be facing off against each other as the Vancouver Canucks are in New Jersey to take on the Devils on Saturday morning.

    Daniel WagnerOctober 18, 2019

  • IWTG: Josh Leivo's shootout winner completes Canucks comeback over Blues

    The Canucks couldn’t win four games in a row to save their lives last season. Fortunately, they were never put in that situation. At no point did a supervillain challenge the Canucks to win four-straight games or their lives would be forfeit. An alien race did not threaten to blow up the earth unless the Canucks won four consecutive games. Last season was not a dystopian future where the Canucks were thrown into a only-one-can-survive scenario, where the first team to four consecutive wins could leave the arena and win their city a year’s worth of drinking water, while every other team was gruesomely killed.

    Daniel WagnerOctober 18, 2019

  • Jumping to conclusions five games into the 2019-20 Canucks season

    The start of an NHL season is a wild time. Teams that were expected to take a big step forward sometimes stumble out of the gate. For example, the New Jersey Devils have gone 0-4-2 with a minus-16 goal differential, despite adding PK Subban, Nikita Gusev, Wayne Simmonds, and Jack Hughes in the offseason.

    Daniel WagnerOctober 17, 2019

  • The Canucks' schedule means they have yet to be truly tested this season

    The 2019-20 Canucks have gotten off to a slow start. That’s not a slow start in the sense of wins and losses, or in the sense that stars like Elias Pettersson and Brock Boeser have yet to hit their stride. It’s a slow start in the sense that they’ve barely played any games.

    Daniel WagnerOctober 17, 2019

  • IWTG: J.T. Miller scores twice as power play lifts Canucks over the Red Wings

    The Canucks wrapped up their first homestand of the season by getting a little testy, pesty, and zesty. I’m not sure exactly when the Detroit Red Wings became the type of team to provoke a rivalry by testing the boundaries of dirtiness, but I’m guessing it was around the time they became bad at hockey. Much like Catherine Banning’s investigation into Thomas Crown, it was a surprisingly physical affair, with both sides getting their licks in. Just how surprisingly physical was it? Two of the primary combatants on the Canucks’ side of things were Elias Pettersson and Troy Stecher.

    Daniel WagnerOctober 16, 2019

  • Fans want “Holiday” back as the Canucks’ goal song, but here’s what it should be

    This is what happens when the Canucks score eight goals in their home opener: their goal song becomes news. A certain segment of the Canucks fanbase isn’t happy with the new goal song selected for the 2019-20 season, and apparently being forced to hear it eight times in one night was just too much for them to handle. Instead of just complaining about it on social media, they’ve turned to the Internet’s favourite form of action: an online petition.

    Daniel WagnerOctober 15, 2019

  • Canucks call up Zane McIntyre and Ashton Sautner from the Utica Comets

    The Canucks have made their first call-ups from the AHL of the 2019-20 season. As is often the case, the call-ups from the AHL are not expected to get in the lineup. Goaltender Zane McIntyre was called up on Monday, while defenceman Ashton Sautner got the call on Tuesday, prior to the Canucks game against the Detroit Red Wings.

    Daniel WagnerOctober 15, 2019

  • IWTG: Jacob Markstrom carries Canucks to shootout win over Flyers

    With no captain, the Canucks lost their first two games of the season. With Bo Horvat as captain, the Canucks have won two straight. I believe the facts are clear: as long as Horvat is captain, the Canucks will be undefeated. He’s like Moses holding up his hands over Israel’s battle with the Amalekites: when Moses held his hands up, Israel prevailed in the battle, but whenever his arms faltered, the Amalekites started winning.

    Daniel WagnerOctober 13, 2019

  • Quinn Hughes is playing big minutes against tough competition for the Canucks

    Quinn Hughes captivated Canucks fans at the home opener on Wednesday, scoring the first goal of his NHL career with a rocket of a slap shot. It wasn’t his only standout moment on offence: he gifted his defence partner Chris Tanev with a goal when the two of them jumped up in a 3-on-2 rush with Brock Boeser. Tanev went to the net with his stick on the ice and Hughes banked the puck off Tanev’s stick into the net with a perfectly-placed pass.

    Daniel WagnerOctober 11, 2019

  • Canucks defenceman Troy Stecher is starting from the bottom once again

    Every single season, it seems Troy Stecher needs to prove himself again as an NHL defenceman. It started in his rookie season, when he was a standout in the 2016 preseason, clearly demonstrating that he belonged in the NHL, but still got cut and sent to the Utica Comets in the AHL. He didn’t stay long: Stecher played just four games with the Comets before a Chris Tanev injury necessitated a call-up. Once back in the Canucks’ lineup, Stecher quickly proved that he belonged there.

    Daniel WagnerOctober 10, 2019

  • IWTG: Canucks embarrass Jonathan Quick and the Kings in home opener

    When the Canucks named Bo Horvat their new captain, it was a relatively understated moment. It wasn’t a grand ceremony: the team just brought out their first and most recent captains, Orland Kurtenbach and Henrik Sedin. The jersey was delivered by Ron Schute, who has been a stick boy/locker room attendant with the team since the 1960-61 season when he was 13 years old and the Canucks were in the WHL. Then Al Murdoch announced Horvat’s name and the arena erupted.

    Daniel WagnerOctober 10, 2019

  • Vancouver Canucks name Bo Horvat the 14th captain in franchise history

    Before the Canucks announced their new captain at their home opener on Wednesday, a very good source informed me that it would be Elias Pettersson. This flew in the face of all other available information, insinuations from the team, and logic, all of which suggested it would be Bo Horvat. I chose not to write an article based on the information from this source, even though it was credible. I just couldn’t reconcile the information I was given with everything else I was hearing. That turned out to be a very good idea when, as expected, the Canucks named Horvat captain in a pre-game ceremony prior to facing the Los Angeles Kings.

    Daniel WagnerOctober 9, 2019

  • Canucks took as many too many men penalties in two games as they took all of last season

    The Canucks need fewer men on the ice. Hold on, let me explain! In 82 games last season, the Canucks were caught with too many men on the ice just three times; no other NHL team took fewer too many men penalties. Whatever else you could say about the 2018-19 Vancouver Canucks, they knew how many players were supposed to be on the ice at any one time. This season, however, the Canucks have already matched that total in just two games. On opening night against the Edmonton Oilers, they were called for one too many men penalty; on Saturday against the Calgary Flames, they were dinged for two more.

    Daniel WagnerOctober 9, 2019

  • How long will it take for the Canucks to put Quinn Hughes on the first power play unit?

    Canucks coaches Newell Brown and Travis Green were in no rush to put Quinn Hughes on the first power play unit in his five-game audition last season. Even though the Canucks were well out of the playoff picture and fans were clamoring to see Hughes with Elias Pettersson and Brock Boeser with the man advantage, the Canucks resisted. Green gave a couple reasons for waiting. They didn’t want to put undue pressure on Hughes in his already highly-hyped debut. They also didn’t want to disrespect the longest-tenured Canuck, Alex Edler, who had yet to sign a new deal, so could conceivably have been playing his final games in a Canucks jersey.

    Daniel WagnerOctober 9, 2019

  • Canucks did both Detroit and Alex Biega a favour in trade for David Pope

    For the past four seasons, Alex Biega has been a solid seventh defenceman for the Vancouver Canucks. Even when he was spending weeks in the press box, he never complained and his work ethic never faltered. When he was inserted into the lineup, the Canucks coaching staff knew exactly what they would get: an honest effort, along with the occasional surprising offensive rush that made him surprisingly more impactful than your typical press box fodder. Last season, Biega set new career highs in points and time on ice per game, and his scoring rate of 1.33 points per hour at 5-on-5 led all Canucks defencemen. Between all the injuries and trades, Biega even played on the top pairing with Alex Edler for stretches and acquitted himself well in the role.

    Daniel WagnerOctober 7, 2019

  • IWTG: Turnovers cost sloppy Canucks in shutout loss to Flames

    It’s far too early to draw any conclusions about the 2019-20 Vancouver Canucks. Two games isn’t anywhere near enough time to accurately assess a team and pass judgement on whether they’re good or bad, a playoff team or battling for the first-overall pick. There’s no need to panic after two losses on the road to kick off the season. Plenty of teams start the season on a negative note and go on to success and the Canucks have a lot of new players and new line combinations that might take a bit of time to gel.

    Daniel WagnerOctober 6, 2019

  • Losing the 2019-20 season opener might have been the best thing to happen to the Canucks

    In a sense, opening night in the NHL is just another game. It’s worth two points in the standings, just like the other 81 games in the season. After all the foofaraw before puck drop — the pre-gameintroduction of the players, coaches, training staff, ushers, concession workers, and parking attendants — the game is seemingly the same as any other. At the same time, opening night is special: it’s what the players have been working towards for the days of practice, weeks of preseason, and months of offseason beforehand. It’s the first true test of your team’s lineup and systems. It arguably sets a tone for the rest of the season, as teams try to quickly establish their identity. But does it bear any more importance than that?

    Daniel WagnerOctober 4, 2019

  • The 2019-20 Canucks Headshot Awards, featuring a maniacally-grinning Adam Gaudette

    There are many reasons to be excited about the start of the Canucks season. First off, it’s just nice to have real, meaningful hockey back. More than that, however, the Canucks themselves are exciting. The team seems on the verge of finally turning the corner on the rebuild and competing for the playoffs. Elias Pettersson alone is worth the hype, but fans also get the rookie season of Quinn Hughes, a hopefully fully-healthy season from Brock Boeser, and the continued two-way progression of Bo Horvat. That’s not to mention seeing how new arrivals J.T. Miller, Micheal Ferland, Tyler Myers, and Jordie Benn settle into their new environs and improve the team. Most exciting of all: picture day.

    Daniel WagnerOctober 3, 2019

  • For the Canucks, penalty killing is exclusively the domain of bottom-six forwards

    It’s hard to carve out a roster spot in the NHL. There are thousands upon thousands of hockey players that dream of reaching those heights. You can be the best player on your team in youth hockey and one of the best in the league in junior hockey, and still struggle to stay in the NHL. Players that don’t become point producers need to find another niche to justify their spot in the lineup. Those at the bottom of the lineup normally don’t get a lot of ice time at even strength, so they have to provide value in other ways.

    Daniel WagnerOctober 3, 2019

  • IWTG: Hughes racks up minutes, Pearson racks up shots, but Canucks rack up a loss in season opener

    Everything over the last few months has been leading to this. All the time spent in the gym over the summer, the bag skates in training camp, the many practices, and all the preseason games that make no difference in the standings, all of it has finally paid off. Finally, after such a long wait, hockey players can once again say, “Big two points tonight.”

    Daniel WagnerOctober 3, 2019

  • Canucks fans are largely optimistic about the 2019-20 season; analysts and pundits disagree

    The 2019-20 Canucks season kicks off tonight in Edmonton. All of the possible futures facing the Canucks will slam into one inescapable reality game-by-game over the next several months. Before that happens, let’s take one final look at what the experts, analysts, and numbers predict for the Canucks.

    Daniel WagnerOctober 2, 2019

  • Elias Pettersson literally doesn’t want to talk about a sophomore slump

    The Canucks’ opening night roster for the 2019-20 season has changed significantly from the one that took the ice a year ago. Ten players on this year’s team — just short of half the roster — weren’t on the team to start last season. Despite all these roster changes, the Canucks hopes of making the playoffs primarily rest on the shoulders of one young man: Elias Pettersson.

    Daniel WagnerOctober 2, 2019

  • The Canucks will name a captain at their home opener, but will it be Bo Horvat?

    Yes. Sorry, I’m getting ahead of myself. Head coach Travis Green made an official announcement on Tuesday, making it clear that the Canucks will have a captain for their 50th Anniversary season after foregoing a captain last year. “The announcement I have today is that we are going to name Captain this season,” said Green on Tuesday. “We put a lot of thought into it. We don't take it lightly. We think that it's the right time for our organization, and the right time for the person we're going to name.”

    Daniel WagnerOctober 1, 2019

  • Jim Benning believes Canucks have enough skill on their 23-man roster without Sven Baertschi

    Sven Baertschi was one of Jim Benning’s biggest success stories. Of all the moves Benning made in his first year as general manager of the Canucks, the Baertschi trade paid off the most. After struggling to stick in the NHL with the Calgary Flames, Baertschi found his stride in Vancouver, developing into a legitimate second-line winger and power play threat. For a team that has struggled to score over the last few seasons, Baertschi has consistently scored at a 20-goal, 40-point pace for the Canucks, with just one caveat: he hasn’t been able to stay healthy over the course of a full season.

    Daniel WagnerSeptember 30, 2019

  • Canucks Camp Cuts: Sven Baertschi, Nikolay Goldobin, and Alex Biega put on waivers

    The Canucks had to place several players on waivers on Monday in anticipation of naming their 23-man roster on Tuesday. It was inevitable given the makeup of the Canucks current roster: they have a surprisingly veteran-laden team, with just three waiver-exempt forwards — Elias Pettersson, Brock Boeser, and Adam Gaudette — remaining on the roster heading into Monday. What’s surprising is who is getting waived. According to these reports, the Canucks will be waiving Nikolay Goldobin, Alex Biega, and Sven Baertschi.

    Daniel WagnerSeptember 30, 2019

  • Canucks Camp Cuts: Zack MacEwen, Jalen Chatfield, Tyler Graovac, and Richard Bachman

    Opening night is just five days away, but the Canucks need to have their roster finalized a little bit sooner than that. The deadline for submitting a cap-compliant 23-man roster is Tuesday, October 2nd, at 2:00 PM Pacific Standard Time. The Canucks could be pretty busy that day maneuvering players around. In order to make best use of the Long-Term Injured Reserve list, they want to have any players going on the LTIR to be on the roster on Tuesday. That could mean papering down a player or two, which means assigning them to the AHL on paper, but never actually sending them to the Utica Comets. Once a player or players are added to the LTIR, the papered-down players can be added back onto the NHL roster.

    Daniel WagnerSeptember 27, 2019

  • I Watched This (Preseason) Game: Canucks fall to Coyotes to end the preseason

    The final game of the preseason represents one last chance for bubble players to present their case to be on the opening night roster. There’s no easy way out for the Canucks as they pare down their roster. Whatever decisions they make, players are going to have to go on waivers, where they could be lost to another team in need of a creative playmaker like Nikolay Goldobin, a savvy defensive forward like Tim Schaller, or a hard-working forechecker like Tyler Motte.

    Daniel WagnerSeptember 27, 2019

  • Quinn Hughes thinks Canucks fans have yet to see how good Chris Tanev can truly be

    When Quinn Hughes has the puck, you can’t help but sit up and take notice. Every rush up the ice has the potential to turn into something special, as he speeds away from forecheckers, evades opponents through the neutral zone, and looks to create scoring chances in the offensive zone. It’s thrilling. Chris Tanev, on the other hand, doesn’t evoke the same excitement. It’s not just that Tanev is a known quantity in Vancouver compared to the new hotness that is Hughes, but also that he doesn’t play a particularly exciting brand of hockey.

    Daniel WagnerSeptember 26, 2019

  • 4 reasons to be optimistic about the 2019-20 Canucks season…

    The Canucks have a lot riding on the 2019-20 season. This is particularly true for Jim Benning, who is entering his sixth season as general manager. With the Canucks missing the playoffs in four-straight seasons, Benning is on the hot seat. The truth is, general managers tend not to last long in the NHL. Just eight of the league’s 31 GMs have been on the job longer than Benning: the NHL tends to go through GMs like paper napkins, discarding them as soon as they’ve served their purpose. And then, when a new GM job opens up, recycling those old GMs and reusing them, citing “previous experience.”

    Daniel WagnerSeptember 26, 2019

  • I Watched This (Preseason) Game: Adam Gaudette argues for a roster spot in Canucks loss

    Last week, Canucks head coach Travis Green fired some shots across the bow of some of the players on the fringes of the roster when he was asked about Adam Gaudette. “What I like about Adam is he’s trying to make the team,” said Green. “Other guys should take notice...There’s a lot of competition for spots and time’s running out, so guys need to make sure they play well next week.” On Wednesday night against the Ottawa Senators, Gaudette once again tried to make the team.

    Daniel WagnerSeptember 25, 2019

  • The sorry state of the Pacific Division should help the Canucks’ playoff chances

    With the development of their young stars and their off-season acquisitions, the Canucks seem intent on turning the corner on their rebuild and competing for the playoffs. Despite their improvements, the Canucks will still be hard-pressed to make the playoffs and will need a lot to go right in the coming season. The safe bet is for them to finish near 90 points, keeping them in the playoff hunt right to the end, but finishing just short. There’s a chance, however, that the Canucks could out-perform those expectations. There are plenty of reasons for optimism, from the rookie season of blue-chip prospect Quinn Hughes, to the addition of talented wingers like J.T. Miller and Micheal Ferland to help the young forward core of Elias Pettersson, Brock Boeser, and Bo Horvat. There’s one other big reason for optimism: the Canucks play in the Pacific Division.

    Daniel WagnerSeptember 25, 2019

  • Why did Brock Boeser stay in Monday’s preseason game after going head-first into the boards?

    The Canucks got halfway through the preseason without any significant injuries, just Micheal Ferland’s unknown illness keeping him out of action. On Monday night in Abbotsford, however, they had two. According to the Canucks, both Brock Boeser and Oscar Fantenberg are in concussion protocol and were kept out of Wednesday’s practice. Hopefully both will be okay and will be able to take the time they need to fully recover.

    Daniel WagnerSeptember 24, 2019

  • I Watched This (Preseason) Game: Elias Pettersson entertains Abbotsford with 4-point night

    The Canucks’ preseason game on Monday night took place in Abbotsford in the former home of the Abbotsford Heat, reigniting debate over whether the Canucks should bring their AHL farm team across the continent to British Columbia. There are several good reasons to move the Utica Comets to Abbotsford and one insurmountable obstacle that will likely prevent it from ever happening.

    Daniel WagnerSeptember 24, 2019

  • Canucks Camp Cuts: Four key members of the Utica Comets head across the continent

    The Canucks’ first game of the 2019-20 season is just over a week away. That means they don’t have much time to pare down their roster to 23 players. Pretty soon, the Canucks will have to make some difficult decisions about who stays with the team and who gets sent across the continent to play for the Utica Comets in the AHL. Before those difficult decisions, however, the Canucks were able to make a few more easy ones, putting four players through waivers on the weekend: Reid Boucher, Francis Perron, Ashton Sautner, and Zane McIntyre.

    Daniel WagnerSeptember 23, 2019

  • Canucks new-look power play features Quinn Hughes on first unit, Bo Horvat on second

    According to head coach Travis Green, the Canucks held off on practicing the power play until Brock Boeser was signed. The delay in practicing special teams isn’t unusual — he suggested they might have waited just as long even if Boeser was signed before camp — but his absence made it easier to wait. Once Boeser was signed, however, they went to work on both sides of special teams, with assistant coaches Newell Brown and Nolan Baumgartner taking on the power play and penalty kill, respectively.

    Daniel WagnerSeptember 22, 2019

  • I Watched This (Preseason) Game: Goals galore between Canucks and Kings in Salt Lake City

    On Tuesday morning, Ben Hutton didn’t have an NHL contract. Four days later, he was suiting up against his former team. At one point, Hutton was considered a big part of the Canucks’ future on defence. He burst onto the scene in his rookie season by leading all Canucks’ defencemen in scoring. The fans voted him the team’s best defenceman, granting him the Babe Pratt Trophy. He even got named to Team Canada for the 2016 World Championships, winning gold. Perhaps he set the bar too high for himself as a rookie.

    Daniel WagnerSeptember 21, 2019

  • Canucks Camp Cuts: Seven players sent packing, including Olli Juolevi and Kole Lind

    The Canucks’ early cuts this preseason featured players that are unlikely to play games in the NHL this season. That includes young prospects with plenty of potential, like Jett Woo and Michael DiPietro; they’ll likely play for the Canucks one days and could be impactful players, but not this season. The latest round of cuts, however, contains several players that could have a significant impact this season, including two defencemen that could quickly get called up if injuries strike.

    Daniel WagnerSeptember 21, 2019

  • Being waiver exempt could keep Adam Gaudette from making Canucks' opening night roster

    It’s waiver wire season in the NHL. As teams around the league pare down their rosters in preparation for opening night, players are starting to get put on waivers. The Canucks’ first couple rounds of cuts avoided waivers. Many were not even signed to contracts with the Canucks, so waivers never entered the picture, while others are not yet eligible for waivers, as they haven’t played enough NHL games or it hasn’t been long enough since they signed their first NHL contract. While waiver eligibility is a little more complex than that, but those are the two basic factors.

    Daniel WagnerSeptember 20, 2019

  • I Watched This (Preseason) Game: Canucks rack up six goals against the hapless Oilers

    Last preseason, the Canucks were bad. I know what you’re thinking: “You’re breaking some new ground there, Copernicus.” Everyone knows the Canucks struggled in the preseason last year and how little it seemed to matter when the regular season started. Still, it made for some frustrating games to watch and likely frustrating games for the players to play.

    Daniel WagnerSeptember 20, 2019

  • Canucks Camp Cuts: Michael DiPietro and Jonah Gadjovich are Utica-bound

    Before heading to Edmonton to face the Oilers on Thursday, the Canucks made a few more cuts, getting their preseason roster down to 43 players. That means there are still 20 players that will need to be cut to get down to a 23-man roster before the start of the regular season, though that includes Antoine Roussel, who will start the season on the Injured Reserve list. The first round of cuts were the easy and obvious ones. The bulk of the cuts were to players on AHL deals with the Utica Comets, who didn’t even have contracts with the Canucks. Four of the players cut were the only four players with junior teams in the CHL, and were sent down to prepare for their seasons which start this week. The other two sent to Utica, Jake Kielly and Mitch Eliot, are on the bottom of the Canucks’ depth chart in net and on defence.

    Daniel WagnerSeptember 19, 2019

  • Key to Brock Boeser bridge deal lies in big third year

    For most of the summer, the Canucks and Brock Boeser weren’t even close to a new contract. Even one week ago, there was a question of whether a deal would get done, as talks between Canucks general manager Jim Benning and Boeser’s agent, Ben Hankinson had reached a stalemate. “After I talked to [Benning] on Monday night, we didn’t talk for another week almost,” said Hankinson on an appearance on TSN 1040. “I wouldn’t have done this deal a week ago, and neither would he.”

    Daniel WagnerSeptember 19, 2019

  • Brock Boeser is a “Lean, mean, Petey winger machine”

    They say absence makes the heart grow fonder, and that certainly seems to be the case with Brock Boeser and the Canucks. Boeser’s absence from training camp and the first few games of the preseason was tangible, particularly on Tuesday night. Elias Pettersson lined up with free agent signing Micheal Ferland on his left wing, but, instead of Boeser, he had Utica Comets star Reid Boucher on his right wing. That’s no slight to Boucher, who set a new Comets record for goals last season, but he’s no Brock Boeser.

    Daniel WagnerSeptember 18, 2019

  • I Watched This (Preseason) Game: Sutter's two goals lead the Canucks over the Oilers

    NHL hockey, or at least something vaguely approaching NHL hockey, returned to Rogers Arena on Tuesday night. The preseason is a time for tuning up, getting back up to gamespeed, and hopefully finding some chemistry. That goes not just for the team on the ice, but the team in the arena as well. There were some changes to the Canucks’ in-arena presentation: more drums, a new host, different graphics on the jumbotron, and other changes. It didn’t all go off without a hitch — some of the music cues came in at the wrong time, the host’s microphone was awkwardly dead for a few excruciatingly long seconds, and I thoroughly disagree with their choice of winner in the dance contest — but it’s preseason for them as well.

    Daniel WagnerSeptember 17, 2019

  • Canucks Camp Cuts: 18 players hit the bricks, including Jett Woo

    The Vancouver Canucks started training camp with 64 players listed on their roster. By the start of the regular season in two weeks, they have to get that number down to 23, so the Canucks need to make some significant cuts. As Cat Stevens once said, the first cut is the deepest. On Tuesday, the Canucks made a deeper cut than “Julie” by David Bowie, reducing their pre-season roster by nearly a third. 18 players were cut, including one of the team’s top prospects on defence, 2018 second-round pick Jett Woo.

    Daniel WagnerSeptember 17, 2019

  • I Watched This (Other Preseason) Game: Canucks comeback falls just short in Victoria

    The Canucks dressed their “A Squad” for their split-squad game in Victoria: it was clearly a step above the team they sent to Calgary. At the same time, “A Squad” is a bit of a misnomer. While the Canucks team in Victoria had a healthy does of NHL talent, they were still missing a lot of their best players, partly because the Canucks will be playing another preseason game on Tuesday in Vancouver.

    Daniel WagnerSeptember 16, 2019

  • I Watched This (Preseason) Game: Virtanen scores two, while Bachman saves the day

    The Canucks kicked off the preseason with a pair of split-squad games with the Calgary Flames. It was pretty clear once the lineups came out for both games that the game in Calgary was getting the Canucks “B Squad.” That’s no slight to the players in Calgary. It’s just that maybe five of the players in the Canucks lineup could be expected to also be in the lineup on opening night.

    Daniel WagnerSeptember 16, 2019

  • Canucks beat the buzzer, re-sign Brock Boeser minutes before start of preseason

    Jim Benning saved the best for last. The Canucks’ general manager was active all off-season, making big moves like trading for J.T. Miller and signing Tyler Myers. But none of his deals were the one that Canucks fans wanted to see most: a new contract for star winger Brock Boeser. Fortunately, the stalemate between the two sides was resolved just before the puck dropped for the first game of the preseason. The Canucks re-signed Boeser to a three-year bridge deal with an average annual value of $5.875 million per year.

    Daniel WagnerSeptember 16, 2019

  • The 7 biggest questions for the Canucks heading into the 2019 preseason

    The Canucks’ preseason kicks off in earnest Monday night with two split-squad games against the Calgary Flames. For the first time in months, NHL hockey, or at least a reasonable facsimile, will be on TV. The preseason will be key for the Canucks as they acclimate new additions to the roster and look to find some chemistry in their lines and pairings. This is a team that has legitimate aspirations of making the playoffs, and that begins with getting the season off to a strong start. The preseason plays a big role in that process. As the Canucks head into the preseason, there are some big questions facing the management and coaching staff that will need answers before the start of the regular season. Here are seven of them.

    Daniel WagnerSeptember 16, 2019

  • 9 goals that Jake Virtanen was supposed to meet this summer, but didn’t

    An NHL training camp is prime time for overreacting. That overreacting can come in different flavours, both positive and negative. Fans can get over-excited about a prospect scoring a gorgeous goal in an intra-team scrimmage or a player on the edge of making the team throwing a big hit to make a statement. They can also overreact negatively when a player struggles during a drill or a skilled player is put on line rushes with fourth-liners.

    Daniel WagnerSeptember 14, 2019

  • How good and consistent wingers could have a big impact on Bo Horvat this season

    Bo Horvat had a fantastic 2018-19 season. He set career highs in goals (27), assists (34), and, by deduction, points (61). That’s despite having to take on more defensive responsibility when Brandon Sutter and Jay Beagle were out with injuries. Most impressively, Horvat’s career year came while playing with a rotating cast of linemates.

    Daniel WagnerSeptember 13, 2019

  • With first-line experience, Micheal Ferland set to play with Elias Pettersson and Brock Boeser

    When Vancouver was first introduced to Micheal Ferland, it was as a hard-forechecking pest in the 2015 playoffs. The rookie got under the skin and into the heads of the Canucks in their first-round matchup against the Calgary Flames. He caused Kevin Bieksa to lose his cool and capped off the series with two goals and an assist in the deciding game six. Since then, however, Ferland has evolved into more than just an agitator. For the last two seasons, Ferland has been a first-line forward for two different teams.

    Daniel WagnerSeptember 13, 2019

  • For Travis Green, the Canucks getting more goals is about more than just top-six or top-nine

    The classic construction of a hockey lineup is simple: you have your first line with your best offensive players, a secondary scoring line, a checking line to play sound defensive hockey, and a grinding fourth line that gets in on the forecheck, hits hard, and maybe drops the gloves every now and then to keep the other team honest. Often, this type of lineup construction is described as top-six forwards and bottom-six forwards. The top-six — the first and second line — is where you put your skilled, offensive-minded players, while your less-skilled, defensive-minded players play in the bottom-six — the third and fourth lines.

    Daniel WagnerSeptember 12, 2019

  • Who could be an unexpected breakout star for the Canucks in the preseason?

    It’s the most wonderful time of the year. No, not Christmas — we’re not allowed to talk about Christmas until after Halloween, thank you very much — but the start of NHL training camps and preseason. This is the time of year when fans can have boundless optimism, unfettered by the reality of the regular season once it begins. Now is the time to have big dreams of 100 points for Elias Pettersson, 50 goals for Brock Boeser, a Calder Trophy for Quinn Hughes, and making the playoffs, if not more, for the Canucks. It’s also the time to believe that every prospect is bound for stardom at the NHL level, particularly when said prospect lights up the preseason unexpectedly.

    Daniel WagnerSeptember 12, 2019

  • PITB Chats with Thomas Drance about returning to Vancouver and why he loves Artem Chubarov

    A few years ago, Thomas Drance was everywhere in the Vancouver Canucks media market. He was writing and editing CanucksArmy, eventually moving up to become Editor in Chief of the entire Nation Network. For a while he was an editor at The Score, then a columnist at Sportsnet, and even appeared on Canucks broadcasts at times during intermissions with Dan Murphy. His freelance work appeared in The Province, The Sporting News, Vice Canada,, and Yahoo! Sports, and he co-wrote a book with Mike Halford called “100 Things Canucks Fans Should Know and Do Before They Die.” He was even a guest writer on Pass it to Bulis, with his regular “Drance Numbers” column introducing readers to new concepts in hockey analytics.

    Daniel WagnerSeptember 11, 2019

  • Zack MacEwen has done all the right things on his path to the NHL

    When the Canucks signed Zack MacEwen as a free agent out of the QMJHL, it was about as under-the-radar as a signing can get. MacEwen was a late-bloomer who had put up a decent, but not outstanding, 74 points in 66 games as a 20-year-old overager after middling numbers in his one previous QMJHL season. Generally speaking, such players don’t go on to much success in professional hockey. Canucks fans would be familiar with this from previous undrafted free agents out of junior hockey like Dane Fox, who had a whopping 64 goals and 107 points in 67 games in his over-age season in the OHL. Unfortunately, Fox couldn’t even crack the Utica Comets’ lineup and spent his professional career in North America in the ECHL before heading overseas to ply his trade in Germany.

    Daniel WagnerSeptember 10, 2019

  • Kole Lind and Jonah Gadjovich struggled as first-year pros, but Canucks hope that made them stronger

    “Why isn’t anyone taking Kole Lind?” That was the question Jim Benning asked to the rest of the Canucks draft table late in the first round at the 2017 NHL Entry Draft. While Lind wasn’t ranked in the first round by every draft ranking, a couple prominent ones had him in the top 25: International Scouting Services and Hockey Prospect.

    Daniel WagnerSeptember 9, 2019

  • After one season without a captain, will that change for the 2019-20 Canucks?

    The Canucks have had 13 captains in their history, starting with Orland Kurtenbach in their inaugural season. The veteran Kurtenbach led the Canucks in their first four seasons before retiring. After Kurtenbach retired, however, the Canucks chose to go captain-less for the 1974-5 season. Perhaps it was because they didn’t have a clear candidate: over the next seven years, the team would cycle through four captains before Stan Smyl took on the role. Prior to the 2018-19 season, that was the only time the Canucks had gone without a captain. What was different about last season is that the Canucks definitely had a clear candidate for captain: two-way centre Bo Horvat.

    Daniel WagnerSeptember 6, 2019

  • NHL marketing falls flat on its face heading into the 2019-20 season

    The NHL doesn’t know how to market itself. At this point it’s nearly a truism, to which the aging audience of the league attests. The problems are clear: hockey culture has a tendency to stunt individuality and squash its biggest personalities. There are even uglier sides to hockey culture, including racism, sexism, and homophobia. Those are all obstacles in the path of attracting a larger audience to the game, but not insurmountable ones. They just require a thoughtful, creative approach to the marketing of the game, particularly on social media channels inhabited by the younger audience that they want to attract.

    Daniel WagnerSeptember 6, 2019

  • There’s more pressure than ever on Nikolay Goldobin

    There’s a side of Nikolay Goldobin that fans rarely get to see: a loose, fun-loving side. If you follow him on Instagram, you might catch some glimpses of that side, but it’s only shown up in bits and pieces here in Vancouver. For instance, before his media scrum at the end of the 2018-19 season, he ducked out of view as soon as he saw cameras, and re-emerged with his hair carefully re-arranged, smiling at the laughs that provoked. As soon as the cameras clicked off, with a cheeky grin he reached up a hand and messed up his hair again.

    Daniel WagnerSeptember 5, 2019

  • Sven Baertschi could be the Canucks’ biggest wild card this season

    The Canucks have made a concerted effort to add top-six forwards heading into next season. Along with Tanner Pearson at last season’s trade deadline, Jim Benning acquired J.T. Miller in a trade with the Tampa Bay Lightning, and Micheal Ferland in free agency. Along with those three wingers, the Canucks will be adding another top-six forward to the lineup: Sven Baertschi.

    Daniel WagnerSeptember 5, 2019

  • Canucks re-sign Nikolay Goldobin to perfectly reasonable one-year, $900,000 contract

    Jim Benning’s off-season work is almost done. Heading into this week, he had just two must-complete items on his checklist: sign the Canucks’ two remaining restricted free agents, Brock Boeser and Nikolay Goldobin. Like me when I’m procrastinating, Benning did the easier task first, signing Goldobin to a one-year, $900,000 contract on Wednesday.

    Daniel WagnerSeptember 4, 2019

  • Quinn Hughes and 18 other prospects will report to Canucks camp this weekend

    According to multiple rankings, the Canucks have one of the best prospect pools in the NHL. The Athletic’s Corey Pronman ranks their pool fifth in the league, while Elite Prospects has them a notch higher at fourth. The Canucks’ prospect pool boasts both top-end talent like Quinn Hughes, Thatcher Demko, Olli Juolevi, and Vasili Podkolzin, and also intriguing depth, like Jett Woo, Nils Höglander, Tyler Madden, Kole Lind, Jack Rathbone, and many others. A good chunk of that prospect pool will be showing up at Rogers Arena this weekend; unfortunately, Canucks fans won’t get a chance to get a glimpse of them.

    Daniel WagnerSeptember 3, 2019

  • Brandon Sutter is not a shutdown centre

    The Canucks’ top two centres are set for years to come. Elias Pettersson has all the makings of a franchise forward, the type of elite, playmaking centre that every team dreams of having in their lineup. Bo Horvat, meanwhile, has developed into a two-way force, driving the puck up ice and to the net with ruthless efficiency. There’s a lingering question, however: who will play behind Pettersson and Horvat?

    Daniel WagnerAugust 30, 2019

  • Can the trickle-down effect give the Canucks a more effective third line?

    The trickle-down theory of economics has been widely debunked, but that doesn’t mean that trickle-down theory can’t be applied to other disciplines. Take, for instance, an NHL team’s roster construction. That’s not the way the Canucks have been building their roster over the last few years. General manager Jim Benning has spent big on bottom-six forwards, dating back to the 2015 trade for Brandon Sutter. Last year, in free agency, Benning signed Jay Beagle, Antoine Roussel, and Tim Schaller for a combined $7.9 million. Even Loui Eriksson, initially signed to be a top-six forward for $6 million per year, has found himself sliding into the bottom six.

    Daniel WagnerAugust 29, 2019

  • Who will kill penalties for the Canucks in 2019-20?

    Two of the Canucks’ most-used penalty killers last season are no longer on the roster. Markus Granlund led the Canucks’ in shorthanded ice time in 2018-19, playing over 183 minutes on the penalty kill, while Ben Hutton was third, with over 158 minutes. Neither one was given a qualifying offer by the Canucks, so both went to free agency, where Granlund got signed by the Edmonton Oilers and Hutton remains on the market.

    Daniel WagnerAugust 28, 2019

  • Nils Höglander and Arvid Costmar are aiming to make Team Sweden at 2020 World Juniors

    Vasili Podkolzin excelled at the Four Nations Under-20 Tournament in Perm, Russia this weekend, but somehow was held without a single point. Two other Canucks prospects, however, managed to hit the scoresheet with a goal each. Nils Höglander and Arvid Costmar, picked in the second and seventh rounds of the 2019 draft, respectively, were both on the Swedish roster and are each looking to earn a spot on Team Sweden for the 2020 World Junior Championships.

    Daniel WagnerAugust 27, 2019