Canucks October Road Trip Recap

The Vancouver Canucks will return to Rogers Arena Friday evening after a five-game road trip to start the season. After starting the year with an 8-1 win at home over the Edmonton Oilers, the team ventured out to Edmonton for their first game of a trip that would take them as far south as Florida. The early season trek resulted in Vancouver picking up three more wins on the road, now moving to 4-2 on the season. Now second in the Pacific Division, the group will look to add to their early season success to close out the month of October on home ice.

Scorecard Snapshot:

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@ Edmonton 10/14 – 3-4 W
Andrei Kuzmenko, Nils Höglander, Jack Studnicka, and Sam Lafferty all got on the board for the Canucks second win of the year and second consecutive victory over the Edmonton Oilers. Casey DeSmith made 37 saves on 40 shots and ended the night with a .925 save percentage. Elias Pettersson and Nils Höglander each had two point nights, with EP40 pitching in two assists and Höglander adding an assist on the third-period Lafferty goal.

@ Philadelphia 10/17 – 0-2 L
“Who are we to think we’re anybody?” Asked Head Coach Rick Tocchet following the shutout loss in Philly. After two different but respective wins against Edmonton, the team looked bogged down and lifeless in the City of Brotherly Love. Demko made some incredible stops on 40 of 42 shots, but the offense couldn’t get going in front of him.

@ Tampa Bay 10/19 – 3-4 L
The Canucks looked better in Tampa but still struggled to fight their way to victory. Brock Boeser added to his goal total, with Tyler Myers and J.T. Miller also contributing a goal each to the scoreboard. Miller had a two point night in Tampa, serving the assist on the Myers goal. Demko made 32 saves on 36 shots, ending the night with a .889 save percentage.

@ Florida 10/21 – 5-3 W
The team had a better showing further south in the Sunshine State when they faced off with the Florida Panthers. Quinn Hughes scored the first Canucks goal and was followed by Carson Soucy, Elias Pettersson, Andrei Kuzmenko, and Brock Boeser with tallies of their own. Kuzmenko and Pettersson both contributed a goal and an assist, with Kuzmenko scoring the go-ahead goal late in the third. DeSmith stopped 34 of 36 shots for the Canucks in Saturday’s game.

@ Nashville 10/24 – 3-2 W
The final game of the road trip took place in Nashville Tuesday evening. After the early road trip mishaps, the Canucks took to the ice in Nashville, looking to close out the trip on a strong note. Mikheyev, in just his second game back from a knee injury, opened the scoring for the Canucks. Phil Di Giuseppe and Nils Höglander would also both get on the board. The forward group got help from their defensemen as Quinn Hughes, Ian Cole, and Filip Hronek posted assists on two of the three Canucks goals. Thatcher Demko stopped 16 of 18 shots in the win.

Margins of Error:

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The Canucks picked up three wins on the five-game trip. Just two weeks ago, at the start of the season, most Canucks fans would have thought the team’s odds of coming out of the trip with a 4-2 record was a long shot. Yet, despite the seemingly unavoidable setbacks, the Canucks have played pretty solid hockey. At 35.3%, the Canucks are ranked third in powerplay percentage. They’re 13th in the league on the penalty kill at 78.3%. They’re getting the puck on net more, leading even the first-place Vegas Golden Knights in shooting percentage (14.6%). They could stand to get outside of their own defensive zone more, but even still, the Canucks are outscoring their opponents. Of the 23 goals the Canucks have scored, they’ve only allowed 15 goals against. 

The offensive production is evident. Brock Boeser is currently tied for third place in the league for goals scored, leading the Canucks with six goals. Elias Pettersson’s 10 points currently has him tied for sixth place in the league for points. Meanwhile, J.T. Miller and Boeser find themselves tied for eighth in the league with eight points apiece.

The goaltending has been solid as well. Thatcher Demko is 16th in the league for both save percentage (.934) and goals against (2.74). Casey DeSmith’s .938 save percentage is eighth in the league. Of course, there’s room for improvement, but nothing about the goaltending has screamed subpar. In the two Canucks losses, the largest margin of victory has only been two goals.

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Defensively, Quinn Hughes continues to lead the pack. His 20+ minutes of ice time is amongst the most minutes played by any skater in the NHL. His repeat d-partner Filip Hronek is averaging 25:27 minutes every night – the fourth most league-wide. Hughes and Hronek are also #1 and #2 for plus/minus, respectively, with Hughes being +8 and Hronek being +7. Good things happen when both guys are on the ice. 

It hasn’t been a perfect performance, but it hasn’t been anything to turn the nose up at either. If the Canucks can continue to find ways to fight for wins and perhaps get the puck out of the defensive zone, they’re a team that has the potential to crash through their ceilings and make noise in the league.

Andrew Willis

Andrew Willis is a freelance hockey reporter covering the ECHL's Jacksonville Icemen for Inside The Rink and the Vancouver Canucks for The Canuck Way. His work has been featured on Hockey of Tomorrow and The Daily Faceoff, and can be found on Twitter/X @FromTheDrewLine.

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