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Canucks Rebuttal: Could One Stat Ruin It for Vancouver’s 3 Star Centres?

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Vancouver Canucks, Bo Horvat
Vancouver Canucks centre Bo Horvat.

One statistic could create a problem with the concept of stacking the middle of the ice with the Vancouver Canucks JT Miller, Elias Pettersson, and Bo Horvat centering their three separate lines. It’s nothing fancy, it has nothing to do with analytics, all three gentlemen were exemplary in surpassing their ‘expected goals’ and their production in team categories. It’s a simple stat that ultimately means a whole lot to the coaches, the players and even their agents.

Ice time.

At even strength there obviously wouldn’t be enough to go around, so the question becomes, would special teams be enough to make up the difference. The answer is usually yes, especially with all three involved on the penalty kill as well as the power play.

The 5-3 Vancouver Canucks victory over the Montreal Canadiens on March 9th is a perfect example. This was the forward line-up, the same that was used in wins over the New York Islanders and Toronto Maple Leafs in the two previous games.

Tanner Pearson, JT Miller, Brock Boeser

Nils Höglander, Elias Pettersson, Conor Garland

Vasily Podkolzin, Bo Horvat, Alex Chiasson

Matthew Highmore, Juho Lammikko, Tyler Motte

Miller and Pettersson both ended up playing just more than twenty minutes, one would think a prerequisite for productivity and happiness, while Horvat played just less than seventeen. The special teams minutes were ample, with Miller and ‘Petey’ playing almost seven minutes each between the power play and the penalty kill.

In the 6-4 win over the Maple Leafs on March 5th, Miller saw just about 19-minutes, with Petey and Horvat seeing about seventeen. Against the Islanders the latter two saw more ice time than Miller, a bit more than 19-minutes compared to a little more than eighteen. The Canucks didn’t take a penalty in the game. The nature and style of the opponent likely played a role in the even strength distribution.

What about the 4th-line centre in these cases? That would be Curtis Lazar moving forward and had been Juho Lammikko for these games; he saw between eleven and thirteen minutes a night.

Vancouver Canucks Head Coach Bruce Boudreau will be mixing and matching when necessary anyway, but the one stat that actually surpasses ice time and keeps all of the participants happy, one that applied in all three of these cases:

Wins.

Heading to Dakota?

In the instant feedback from Tuesday evening’s story about stacking the three centres and building out the wings, one name came up a few times from readers: Dakota Joshua. That’s fine. It’s nice to have a big body in the mix, 6-foot-3 and 205 pounds, but Vancouver is hardly gasping for a left-shot forward. Is this big fella the Canucks signed on July 13th to a two-year deal a legitimate competition for the other forwards in the mix?

The 26-year-old Detroit area native has four goals, five assists and 23 penalty minutes in 42 career NHL games. That crooked number in the PIM department comes from 3 career NHL fights. On March 13th 2021, Joshua fought Keegan Kolesar of the Vegas Golden Knights, on November 11th, 2021 he fought Michael McCarron of the Nashville Predators, and on December 19th, 2021, he dropped them with Nathan Beaulieu of the Winnipeg Jets. He lost the latter two.

That’s not messing around. The Vancouver Canucks could always use a little ‘enforcement’ and truculence. He’ll be making at least $800,000 regardless of his assignment.

See you in Abbotsford, Dakota.

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Wade

Dakota Joshua will make the big squad.
Good penalty killer, has size, good skater, net presence.
At least one forward will be dealt away before the season starts.

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