Fresh off 4-0 win over the Anaheim Ducks, the Canucks kick off a three-game road trip in the Mile High City against the decidedly more offensive Colorado Avalanche.WEDNESDAYVancouver Canucks at Colorado Avalanche6:30 p.m., Pepsi Center, Sportsnet, Sportsnet 650THE BIG MATCHUPPettersson Plan vs. Public Perception There’s a natural tendency to show kids the way. Give them some sage advice and the transition to the NHL should be more seamless than troublesome. In most instances, that makes perfect sense. In the case of the electric Elias Pettersson, a Calder Trophy front-runner who sports a multi-dimensional game and is his own worst critic, this is not the correct course.Tell the Swedish wunderkind he should shoot more instead of looking for linemates — he didn’t have a shot or an attempt Monday in a 4-0 win over Anaheim but had two assists — and he pauses for a moment, then gives you a thoughtful response about time and space and speed of the game. “I see myself more of a passer than a shooter, but maybe sometimes I should have been more selfish,” he said. “But the game is quick and I’m always looking to pass.”Pettersson leads the Canucks and all first-year players with 56 points (26-30) in 52 games and he’s the last player Travis Green worries about.“There’s a lot of heat on our young players to score and that’s easier said than done at this time of year,” said the Canucks’ coach. “I’m not worried if Petey is shooting or passing. Whatever he decides to do, I’m quite confident and I’m not going to start telling him when to pass and when to shoot or when to delay. I’m just going to let him play the game and enjoy this part of the season. He’s going to develop just fine.”
Elias Pettersson (right), the ultimate team player, may have to become more offensively selfish.
Jeff Roberson /
Associated Press files
FIVE KEYS TO THE GAME1. When will we see The Pearson Plan?Trade-deadline acquisition Tanner Pearson has already been tabbed a top-six fit by general manager Jim Benning. That’s not a stretch because the left-winger had 24 goals two seasons ago with Los Angeles and won a Stanley Cup in 2014. He had but nine goals in 44 games with Pittsburgh this season and the obvious hope is that the first-round draft pick can rekindle his offensive game and be a fit with either Bo Horvat or Pettersson.But when will that occur? The Canucks travelled Tuesday, have back-to-backs in Colorado and Arizona on Wednesday and Thursday, are off Friday and don’t practise again until Saturday. Then again, Green likes to insert recalled players or new players as soon as possible.2. Can Schenn keep turning back clock?Who was that hulk popping the lid off former minor-league teammate Max Jones with a thunderous check Monday? It was Luke Schenn. At age 29, the unrestricted free agent may be a key cog in the drive to capture a wild-card playoff spot. Especially after the struggling Erik Gudbranson was dealt to the Penguins in the Pearson swap.Schenn was more than noticeable in his Canucks debut after being acquired from the Ducks in the Michael Del Zotto trade on Jan 16. He had three shots, six attempts and four hits. He also defended well down low, made simple outlet passes and communicated with the presence of a veteran who has played for five NHL teams.“I really wanted to give it one more chance and work my way back and luckily Vancouver gave me an opportunity,” said Schenn. “It’s one game and it felt good to get the first one out of the way.”
Former minor-league teammates Max Jones and Luke Schenn get reunited Monday.
DARRYL DYCK /
THE CANADIAN PRESS
3. Time to pump brakes on Goldobin digs?You know the narrative: Nikolay Goldobin needs to make better plays with and without the puck. He needs to not lose his check in the defensive zone and can’t keep coughing up puck at the offensive blue line. That has been the knock on the winger because nine healthy scratches and indifferent play by the 23-year-old RFA is going to fuel trade rumours. How about the fact that Goldobin is coming off two strong outings and ripped a wrist shot home off both posts Monday for his first goal in eight games?It was a light-bulb moment. He was told to stop shooting so high and went mid level for his seventh goal and finished with two shots and six attempts. Could it be a sign of better times? We shall see.4. Keeping The Big Three to a big zeroThe high-octane trio of Gabriel Landeskog, Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen were split up and then reunited on Feb. 2 in Denver where the healthy Canucks claimed a convincing 5-1 win to kick off what would be a rocky, injury-plagued four-game road trip. It will be difficult to duplicate that feat that had Green offering nothing but post-game superlatives. “It was a really good effort — from start to finish,” he said.5. Staying in the fight takes some fightAntoine Roussel wasn’t going to let Ryan Kesler take liberties Monday and the winger took a first-period cross-checking penalty on the Ducks’ pest to prove his point. Stuff like that not only sends the right message, it’s a way to rally the Canucks in their playoff push and not get down on themselves. “It’s about knowing what you have in a player and leaving it all out there,” said Roussel.
Antoine Roussel celebrates after he scored a goal against the San Jose Sharks at SAP Center on Feb. 16, 2019 in San Jose, Calif.
Ezra Shaw /
PROJECTED LINEUPSCANUCKSForwardsRyan Spooner — Bo Horvat — Josh LeivoNikolay Goldobin — Elias Pettersson — Brock BoeserAntoine Roussel — Adam Gaudette — Markus GranlundLoui Eriksson — Jay Beagle — Tyler MotteDefenceBen Hutton — Troy StecherAshton Sautner — Luke SchennDerrick Pouliot — Alex BiegaGoalJacob Markstrom, Thatcher Demko
Gabriel Landeskog of the Colorado Avalanche engages a young fan through the glass during warm-up prior to facing the Vancouver Canucks at the Pepsi Center in Denver, Colo., in March 2014.
Doug Pensinger /
AVALANCHE ForwardsMikko Rantanen — Nathan MacKinnon — Alexander KerfootGabriel Landeskog — Carl Soderberg — JT CompherTyson Jost — Derick Brassard — Matt CalvertSven Andrighetto — Sheldon Dries — Gabriel BourqueDefenceSamuel Girard — Erik JohnsonRyan Graves — Tyson BarriePatrik Nemeth — Nikita ZadorovGoalSemyon Varlamov, Philipp GrubauerINJURIESCanucks: Alex Edler (concussion, day-to-day, IR), Sven Baertschi (concussion symptoms, IR), Chris Tanev, (ankle, IR), Brandon Sutter (lower body, IR), Jake Virtanen (rib fracture, IR).Avalanche: Vladislav Kamenev (shoulder, IR), Matt Nieto (lower body, day-to-day), Ian Cole (upper body, IR), Colin Wilson (undisclosed, IR).SPECIAL TEAMSPower play Canucks: 26th (15.6%)Avalanche: 8th (22.2%)Penalty killCanucks: 18th (80.3%)Avalanche: 27th (77.7%)