Canucks Surprising Everyone
By Patrick Hoffman
While there have been several surprising teams who have had good starts to the season, perhaps the most surprising good start beside the Vegas Gold Knights is that of the Vancouver Canucks.
As of this writing (December 1, 2017), the Canucks are 12-10-4. While that may not look good on paper, that record actually puts them one point out of a wild card spot and five points out first in the Pacific Division.
This should come as a surprise to every Canucks' and hockey fan out there. Last season, this team was absolutely awful. The club 30-43-9 for just 69 points and the organization looked like it had not idea what it was doing.
This all changed when the team hired Travis Green to be their head coach. Green, a former NHLer (New York Islanders, Anaheim Ducks, Phoenix Coyotes, Toronto Maple Leafs, and Boston Bruins) and a successful coach with the Portland Winterhawks and Utica Comets.
Green brought his coaching strengths to the Canucks and for the start of this season at least, has made them a more competitive club and a tougher team to beat on a nightly basis. For a first-year head coach and a team that was expected to be dreadful this season, I'd say that's a nice surprise and a positive step forward for this franchise.
One reason why they have been successful thus far is the play of their youngsters. The most surprising start in terms of production from the team's younger forwards is that of rookie Brock Boeser. In 23 games this season, he has 25 points (13 goals and 12 assists), which is good for the team lead at just 20 years of age.
Once again, the team has also gotten solid play from 22-year-old center Bo Horvat. Horvat is second on the team in points with 19 (10 goals and 9 assists) and is picking up where he left off after a strong season last year.
Other players that have stepped up for the Canucks this season are Sven Baertschi (8 goals and 9 assists for 17 points), Thomas Vanek (6 goals and 11 assists for 17 points), Daniel Sedin (6 goals and 9 assists for 15 points), and Henrik Sedin (2 goals and 13 assists). While there is no guarantee that this kind of production will continue, the team is certainly showing that they have some scoring depth.
What's also nice for the Canucks is that they have had decent goaltending from a tandem consisting of Jacob Markstrom and Anders Nillson. Markstrom has started 18 games and has gone 6-8-0-3 with a 2.68 goals against average and a .909 save percentage.
Nillson has actually been the better goaltender this season so far. In 9 games, 6-2-0-1 with a 2.68 goals against average and a .922 save percentage.
When it comes down to it, if you're a Canucks fan, you cannot be disappointed so far. They have exceeded expectations and have shown that no matter what, they will be a competitive team for the whole season.
Previously, Patrick has covered the NHL for Sportsnet.ca, Kukla’s Korner, Spector’s Hockey, About.com, NHL Network Radio blog, TheHockeyNews.com, The Fourth Period, Stan Fischler’s “The Fischler Report”, as well as a slew of others.