The Canucks have been streaky, but hopefully those streaks will be bleached out of the blue and green shorts going forward as the team adjusts to what works for them.
After losing 3 in a row, third being the New Years Classic outdoor game at home in Vancouver, coach Rick Bowness felt pressured to adjust how he played his players. Fatigue of his top players was top in mind, and he experimented for 4 games with a full 4 line equal time rotation.
While this rotation helped many players on the team, it also hindered some, namely the team's superstars. Ryan O'Reilly, and David Pastrnak were quiet over the 4 game stretch putting up a disappointing 2 goals and 3 assists combined across a lacklustre team record of 1 win and 3 losses. "It wasn't a good choice..." mused Boner, as he is affectionately referred to by his players, "...Pasta (Pastrnak) and O (O'Reilly) seem to play better when they are on the ice often, even if they are tired, than they do watching the others do the heavy lifting." The experiment wasn't all negative, though, as the team witnessed an awakening of their highly touted winger, Jake Guentzel, over the process. "He took the opportunity (for more ice time) and ran with it, showing us what's possible, and that really made an impression on the coaching staff." said Bowness. Coach Rick altered the lines back to something similar from the Canucks' earlier streak this season, the streak that saw them dominate the league with 4 straight wins to begin the season. Except there was one noticeable difference: Jake Guentzel. "Gunner" was now placed alongside Ryan O'Reilly and David Pastrnak on the team's top line, and the minutes have been plentiful for the trio. Since the change, the team has won 4 straight, and both Pastrnak and O'Reilly have combined for an incredible 6 goals and 15 assists in that frame. Adding to that is 4 goals and 4 assists from linemate Jake Guentzel. That equals an INCREDIBLE 29 points in 4 games for these 3 players, who each currently sit atop the league in "points per 20 minutes" of play, and also sit one, two, and three in the BEARD's Art Ross Trophy race. Winger Jake Guentzel had this to say "It just feels right at the moment, the three of us just feel like we know each other right now, we know where each other is going to be, and we work to help eachother get the puck, that's all it is." Tha Canucks go forward with a renewed confidence and swagger, testing themselves with another Pacific division matchup this week against the Calgary Flames, and then a swing into the East with games against the Leafs, Habs, Pens, Panthers before returning home with a test against the ever-changing Blackhawks.