Make Shark Club your home for the playoffs! With Happy Hour twice daily, and all-night Happy Hour on Fridays, there’s no better place to live the playoff experience.
The NHL playoffs are where heroes are born, and they’re not always star players.
It happens almost every year, but Stanley Cup winners have depth guys who find ways to step up and make contributions that are beyond their pay grade.
Depth defenceman Carl Gunnarsson scored a huge overtime-winning goal for the St. Louis Blues in last year’s Stanley Cup Final. The year before, Devante Smith-Pelley and Lars Eller combined to help the Washington Capitals overcome a Game 5 deficit against the Vegas Golden Knights, en route to their first Stanley Cup.
The Canucks had a quick spurt of offence from depth guys against St. Louis, but there’s been next to nothing from them against Vegas.
Here are four guys who have the potential to make an impact against Vegas, but have yet to do so.
1. Adam Gaudette
Adam Gaudette was a delightful addition to the Canucks bottom-six during the regular season. The 2018 Hobey Baker award winner provided 12 goals and 33 points in 59 games, and his even-strength scoring rate was equal to that of a second-line NHL player.
That offensive boost Gaudette provided has disappeared in the playoffs. Since being injected into the line-up during the St. Louis series, he’s played eight games but has yet to register a point.
In those eight games, Gaudette only has four shots. The defensive side of his game has been better in the playoffs, but the Canucks are generating next to no offence with him on the ice.
Gaudette certainly has the ability to score, he just hasn’t caught that break in the playoffs… yet.
2. Jake Virtanen
Richmond native Troy Stecher had his shining moment with the Canucks game-winning goal against St. Louis in Game 1.
Can Abbotsford native Jake Virtanen muster up a similar performance?
Despite only registering one goal and one assist in 14 playoff games so far (with both of those points coming in the second period of Game 5 against St. Louis), Virtanen hasn’t been bad.
What has happened is that he’s found himself on the fourth line mostly with Tyler Motte and Jay Beagle. Only Motte, Beagle, and Sutter have started their shifts in the offensive zone less than Virtanen for the Canucks in these playoffs.
Despite that, Virtanen has the second-best shot differential among Canucks, aside from Elias Pettersson. He’s also the only Canuck with an expected goals-for percentage above 50%.
With 18 goals during the regular season, Virtanen surely knows how to score. He has seen limited time in an offensive role during these playoffs. Does Travis Green afford him an opportunity to score with the Canucks season on the line?
3. Tanner Pearson
Early in the playoffs, former Stanley Cup champion Tanner Pearson looked unstoppable.
He had three goals and six points in his first six games, unleashing that dangerous wrist shot on a couple of big goals.
However, in the nine games since, Pearson has one point, an empty-net goal.
Pearson has been playing tough minutes in a match-up role, but he is a guy that this team is relying on for offence. He’s taken 23 shots since his last non-empty net goal. Perhaps he can breakthrough once again before the Canucks season concludes.
4. Tyler Myers
It’s been an up and down playoffs for Tyler Myers. The behemoth was most noticeable after taking a slew of minor penalties early in the playoffs, but he also had moments of strong defensive play.
He’s certainly an upgrade based on what the Canucks had in previous seasons. However, he’s also a defenceman known for his offensive production. That part of his game hasn’t transpired at all in these playoffs.
Myers has the same stat line as Gaudette right now. Eight games played in the playoffs, and no points to show for it.
In fact, dating back to 2018, Myers has now gone 15 straight games without a playoff point. The last time he registered a point in the playoffs was when he scored in Game 4 of the Western Conference Final with the Winnipeg Jets… against the Golden Knights.
Whether it’s Myers finding his offensive touch, or one of the other aforementioned guys here, someone else aside from the stars likely needs to score of the Canucks are going to shock the hockey world, and advance to the Conference Final.