After a solid 4 – 0 start to the campaign, the Canucks fortunes have fallen off as they’ve dropped four straight, including back-to-back shutout losses in their last two starts. While not expected to be an offensive juggernaut, Vancouver’s offense has been worse than advertised averaging a measly 1.75 goals per game. In fact, they are the only team in the NHL that tallies fewer than two per contest. The struggles of prized free agent addition Loui Eriksson and skilled youngster Sven Baertschi have played a big role in Vancouver’s offensive ineptitude. But as Steve Ewen of The Province writes, despite not tallying a single goal between them this season, head coach Willie Desjardins still believes in Eriksson and Baertschi.
Eriksson, who inked a six-year pact with Vancouver worth $36MM this summer, adds much more than simply offense to the team, says Desjardins.
“Loui’s been good. He hasn’t scored, but he’s been good. He gives so many things in so many areas. We’d like to see scoring. But I’m not worried. It will come. He gives us a lot.”
Still, $6MM annually is a lot of money for a player who isn’t contributing much offense. Vancouver will need to him to start putting the puck in the net soon to realize a positive return on their investment.
Baertchi, a former first-round pick, seemed to finally put it together in 2015-16, recording 15 goals and 28 points in 69 contests. The Swiss winger has always had talent but prior to last season had tallied just 8 times prior to joining the Canucks as a result of a 2015 trade with Calgary. But through eight games this season he has just a single point and carries a plus-minus rating of -2.
Desjardins has noted the hard work from Baertschi and envisions good things happening for the 24-year-old winger if he maintains this effort.
“Early, he was methodical. Now, he’s crossed a spot where he’s had enough and he’s pushing harder and things are happening for him.”
Vancouver likely isn’t a playoff-caliber team unless a few things bounce their way. However, they’ll have virtually no chance of staying in the race unless they can start putting the puck in the net. Simply put, Eriksson and Baertschi will need to be much better for Vancouver.
Elsewhere in the Western Conference:
- From the same piece, Ewen also notes that the Canucks have lost forward Jayson Megna to an upper-body-injury and the forward is expected to miss at least 10 days. Megna was injured during the second period of Friday night’s loss to Edmonton. In his place, the Canucks could insert Michael Zalewski, himself recently recalled from Utica, or use defenseman Alex Biega up front, writes Ewen. Injured forwards Derek Dorsett and Alexandre Burrows have both started skating again and could return to the lineup soon.
- Earlier today the Dallas Stars activated forward Jiri Hudler from IR. In a related move, the team has reassigned Justin Dowling to the Texas Stars of the AHL. Dowling, 26, made his NHL debut this season and appeared in two games for Dallas, recording an assist and a -1 plus-minus rating. In 264 AHL games across parts of seven seasons, Dowling has netted 67 goals and 187 points.