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Left on Read: Lacrosse Goals and Shots Off the Post

Trent Leith / March 3, 2021  

You have a thought, a good one too. You carefully word that thought into 280 characters or less and are sure to work in “#Canucks” to maximize your reach amongst your fellow fans. You re-read the tweet, and you hit send. A few moments later, you check your notifications and there’s nothing. The next morning, still nothing. Your carefully articulated thoughts echo for eternity into the void of the little blue bird app. 

We have all been there, and we here at StadiumChinatown.ca are looking to extend a hand and pull as many tweets from that endless void as possible. This is Left on Read, an article series where we skim the depths of Canucks Twitter and find some thought-provoking tweets that we think pose good questions but got no propper answers, and we try to answer them. 

The Bobble Heard Around the World Lower Mainland 

We were this close to getting Nils Höglander’s first NHL lacrosse goal. Anyone who watches Höglander closely knows just how skilled he is with the puck. Höglander has been one of the bright spots of the team this year. Every time his skates touch the ice he is playing 110%, which can’t be said for many of his teammates.

We have seen Höglander score the rare lacrosse goal in the SHL and even in the World Junior Championship, and many fans are itching to see him score it at the highest level. While we will still have to wait to see him do it, we have seen him think about it a couple of times, and Monday night he made the first real effort to try it. 

So did he bobble it, or did he see Connor Hellebuyck square up and back out? Watching closely I think Höglander had it bobble a little bit. That said, it looks like it was for the best as Hellebuyck took away most of the net. 

Postgame Nils had this to say regarding the attempt: 

It was a good opportunity to try that, but nothing happened.

This would also imply that the puck bobbled off his stick vs him pulling the plug. Not that any of this matters, the takeaway here was the attempt and how he continues to win the heart of fans. 

Miller Looking Frustrated 

This isn’t a talking point I have seen yet this year, but I can’t say it’s something that I am surprised to see. J.T. Miller’s play has been off this season, he has been particularly frustrated, his backcheck has been lacking and he is struggling to score goals. Miller has only scored 6 goals in 23 games, which is less than a 14 goal pace this season. Miller is sitting 6 goals back from Brock Boeser’s team-leading 12 goals. 

While all of this is true, I don’t think Miller is itching to leave. While the Canucks could reap quite a bounty for his services on his very appetizing $5.25M contract, he has all the opportunity in the world in Vancouver. There are very sparse options for a better situation than playing with Boser and Pettersson on a  top line, as well as PP1 in what was one of the most lethal powerplays in the league last season. Miller has recently been up and down the line up a little bit but has received no long-term assignment outside the top line so he can’t be too upset with his deployment.

For Miller to ask for a trade, the Canucks management would have to start down the path of a proper rebuild. The Canucks are on the brink of a re-tool should they continue to be trending downward, but I don’t see a true and proper teardown in the cards. Miller knows the potential this team has and knows his importance to this team. It is safe to say we are a ways off from Miller asking for a trade out of Vancouver. 

What is to be Made of Holby?

Braden Holtby is not having the bounce-back season that Canucks fans were hoping Ian Clarke could help facilitate. Last month we speculated that Holtby had turned a corner, David Quadrelli of Canucks Army also had a similar view of Holtby:

I think he’s played a solid game. He’s quickly picked up on the things Ian Clark has been working with him on and I think we’ve already seen the worst of Braden Holtby in a Canuck uniform.

Since that article, Holtby has played two games and has lost both, with a combined save percentage of .883. Holtby is clearly on the decline, but he has arguably done exactly what the Canucks expected when they signed him. 

When Holtby was signed, he was brought here for two reasons. First, he was here to provide Demko relief while simultaneously being a hurdle. Demko needed to earn the crease, not have it handed to him, and Holtby provided that internal competition. Thatcher Demko has taken the starting position by force after a 4-0 shutout on Monday night against the Winnipeg Jets. Holtby is officially the backup for the Canucks. 

Secondly, Holtby was signed for expansion draft purposes. The Canucks are required to expose one goaltender and his signing allows the Canucks to keep Demko protected. Holtby was never signed to be a starting goaltender, he was signed to be a backup and expansion fodder, anything else was a bonus. The price the Canucks are paying for that role is another topic altogether. 

Holtby is not playing well, but he is a backup at this point of his career. Holtby is definitely not a strength for this team, but he is not solely alone in the blame for losing his games as the word “liability” implies. Holtby is certainly far from a strength, in fact, he is actually a weakness on the ice, but he is not the only factor causing the Canucks to lose.

PING… Another One Off the Post

A meme, and a Stranger Things meme to boot, seems fitting for these strange times. Elias  Pettersson has hit the post or crossbar an exceptionally high amount this season with 9 off the iron. In fact he is on pace to set an NHL record for shots off the post and crossbar, despite it being a shortened season. The next highest post hitter this season is a three-way tie between Leon Draisaitl, Jack Eichel and Aaron Ekblad at 5 shots ringing through the empty arenas. 

Some people see hitting the post or crossbar as a negative, as a sign a player can’t hit the net. The truth is, it is a sign of positive regression to come. To hit the post means you have beat the goalie on a shot, and are a fraction of an inch off from it being a good goal. Depending on where on the height of the crossbar you hit, you can go from the nicest goal in hockey, bar down, to throwing your head back to the skies in frustration.

Hitting the post and out is the unlucky outcome of a coin flip, on the razor’s edge. Mere millimetres in placement difference can mean a goal. With Pettersson hitting so many posts and crossbars, he is due for some regression in a positive way. If he keeps picking his corners, these shots are bound to go in sooner or later and boost some of his goal totals. 

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