Young star players like Pettersson are too talented and skillful to be enduring long scoring slumps; but in a Canadian hockey market like Vancouver with a passionate fan base, the criticism EP40 is receiving comes with the territory.
Vancouver on a road trip to Colorado, Vegas and Anaheim
By Brandon Yip, Senior Columnist
At the time of writing, the Vancouver Canucks have played 10 games. Vancouver had a decent six-game road trip to begin the season; obtaining seven points (record of 3-2-1 ). But when the Canucks returned home to begin seven games at Rogers Arena, the team struggled—losing three consecutive games to Minnesota, Philadelphia and Edmonton.
In the game versus the Oilers on October 30, the Canucks lost by a score of two to one. Vancouver’s Brock Boeser broke Mikko Koskinen’s shutout with seven seconds remaining in the third period, despite the Oilers’ netminder making 29 saves. Canucks goalie, Thatcher Demko, stopped 32 pucks. Boeser’s goal was his second of the season and his 100th career NHL goal.
But on November 2, the Canucks ended the futility streak. Vancouver showed character and resiliency by coming back from a two-goal deficit to defeat the New York Rangers in overtime (the final score was three to two). JT Miller scored the overtime winner (his second goal of the game) on a wrap-around at 2:22, after initially being stopped on a breakaway by Rangers’ goalie, Igor Shesterkin. The Canucks are on the road this week for a short three-game trip to Colorado, Vegas and Anaheim.
Some Canucks fans are concerned about the play of Elias Pettersson. In his first 10 games, he only has five points. His lack of production has been the focus for discussions on social media and the post-game show on Sportsnet 650.
“I’m always trying to be the best player I can be out there every night,” Pettersson said to the media following a training session at Scotia Barn in Burnaby—as reported by The Province on October 29. “I’m just trying to learn from past games. Of course, it’s frustrating because I always want to play my best, to help this team win. But I mean I’m still learning, I’m still trying to become better every day. Today I felt good. I’ve got a good feeling about tomorrow.”
Canucks coach, Travis Green, said there are other factors that have affected Pettersson’s performance. “It’s not just the training camp—he missed the last 30 games of last season,” he said to the media on October 25—as reported by Vancouver Is Awesome. “He hasn’t played an NHL hockey game for a while. He’s still a young guy and we know how good he can be, we know how good he is. But his game’s gonna slowly improve, is what we’re expecting.”
Young star players like Pettersson are too talented and skillful to be enduring long scoring slumps; but in a Canadian hockey market like Vancouver with a passionate fan base, the criticism EP40 is receiving comes with the territory. Plus, the scrutiny and criticism have increased since Pettersson signed a new—a three-year deal totalling $7.35 million per year (US dollars) contract as reported by TSN. Nonetheless, if Pettersson is still struggling at the halfway mark of the season (game 41), then there would be cause for concern. However, at the moment, there is no reason to jump to conclusions about Pettersson’s performance.
Sportsnet reported on November 1, that Tyler Motte and Travis Hamonic, returned to the Canucks’ lineup. Motte has been recovering from spinal surgery, while Hamonic had been away from the team for personal reasons that remain unclear—leading to speculation the defenceman had not been vaccinated. Both players made themselves available to the media.
“Unfortunately, your mind goes worst-case scenario sometimes, but I’ve been told that we’re at no risk of that right now,” Motte said about his recovery from surgery. “[I] should have no issues.” Motte is glad to be back skating once again with his teammates. “Just being a part of opening night and having the fans and everyone back, it brings a lot of life back to me in my daily routine in life,” he said. “And hopefully we’re able to bring a little bit of that back for everyone else.”
Hamonic declined to discuss the reasons why he had been absent from the team. But he stated the pandemic has been difficult for him and his family. “I think, on the outside, people don’t always see how much we actually care for each other and how far that goes,” he told reporters. “So I wanted to come out and obviously speak and just publicly thank the organization because it’s made a world of difference in me and my family’s life in the last couple of months. I will say that that I am vaccinated and I’m following all the protocols right now that are in place until that process is done. I’m here, I’m excited to be here. I’m proud to be a Canuck. This has been an extremely difficult time for me the last little while.”
In other NHL news, The Canadian Press reported November 1 NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman held a press conference via Zoom to discuss the Chicago Blackhawks’ sexual assault allegations stemming from 2010. Bettman stated he had spoken with Kyle Beach (previously identified as John Doe) and apologized to him for the pain and suffering he has endured. Bettman said it was difficult watching Beach’s interview with TSN reporter, Rick Westhead. “My reaction was I was horrified,” he said. “It was emotional. I was distressed. He had obviously been suffering just by watching him, and I wanted to make sure that we were continued to be focused on how to deal with what was now in front of us. And I was sorry, as a personal matter, that anybody had to go through what he was discussing.”
Bettman believes the NHL has taken positive steps in addressing situations similar to Kyle Beach. Bettman says there is a hotline available to report all forms of abuse. He also reiterated NHL teams must address issues such as sexual assault and harassment immediately; with accountability and transparency. “That is something that we’re going to continue to hammer home,” he said. “If this horrible situation should serve any constructive purpose, it’s to demonstrate that this will not be tolerated. And if you have a problem in your organization, you better deal with it. And if you’re in a position of authority, you shouldn’t be overlooking it, because there’ll be a consequence to that.”