The Vancouver Canucks have lost two games in a row against the St. Louis Blues and a change needs to be made.
The Canucks were lucky to come into the bubble with a forward group that included 15 potential players who could help this team on their journey through the playoffs. Since then, Tyler Toffoli has been injured, Micheal Ferland has left due to being unfit to play, and Adam Gaudette was benched since the first game against the Minnesota Wild.
It’s been a crazy couple weeks, eh?
The Canucks are riding an emotional low right now. After a 3-0 lead in the series slipping away in overtime due to a Brayden Schenn goal on Sunday night — they came out and had a horrendous performance in a game four loss.
This team needs a boost and unless Toffoli is healthy enough to play, they will have to turn to Gaudette.
Gaudette can be impactful on this Canucks lineup. The question would be if it’s Jake Virtanen or Zack MacEwen who comes out of the lineup.
Let’s discuss that quickly.
Virtanen and MacEwen have been kept off the scoresheet in four games against the Blues. Virtanen has two shots on goal in 40 minutes and MacEwen has four shots in 31 minutes.
The decision is too tough for me to strongly take a side, but right now I would take MacEwen out of the lineup. Though his story is great, he is a big body who can skate and I really like him as a fourth-line player for years to come — he simply has made more mistakes in these four games and the Canucks would benefit from having Virtanen on the powerplay instead of Brandon Sutter or Antoine Roussel.
The power-play is a place where Gaudette will aid the team severely. He had four powerplay goals this year and when he’s on the powerplay with Virtanen we saw both of their scoring ability rise this season. Having these two on either side of the powerplay makes the second unit a real threat to score.
Gaudette would likely slide in with the third or fourth line right winger spot as Travis Green has said that he likes the way that Sutter is playing centre right now. The dream would be to have the third line be Roussel-Gaudette-Virtanen but at this point in the series, I don’t know if Green trusts their defensive game.
It’s tough to imagine how Travis Green would use Gaudette in the current lineup. Having him jump right into MacEwen’s spot on the fourth line changes the whole dynamic of that line but it could be a quick way to get Gaudette onto the powerplay while giving him sheltered minutes.
I just have a feeling that Green will have a quick trigger finger to bench Virtanen, Roussel and Gaudette for long stretches of the game. So why not just go with them in a fourth-line role and use Tyler Motte with Jay Beagle and Sutter in a third-line role.
The line of Roussel-Gaudette-Virtanen doesn’t need to play so much 5-on-5, Gaudette and Virtanen can impact the game on the second powerplay unit. The only thing holding that back had been the good play of Sutter at centre. I don’t think Green will go away from that but the Canucks have lost two games and a change needs to be made.
I think Gaudette into the lineup makes sense right now and he can impact this game even if his line only gets six or so minutes at 5-on-5. This will open up the opportunity to possibly match Motte-Beagle-Sutter against the dominant O’Reilly line. Green has used the Beagle line to match up against top lines this season and he could use this defensive line to do the same in game five when O’Reilly is away from The Lotto Line.
The one certainty it that Green needs to make a move and Toffoli’s injury is just too mysterious to even begin to think he will be healthy enough to play on Wednesday.
Adam Gaudette should play on Wednesday and I think he will. It will be up to Green to decide who comes out and how he uses Gaudette’s offensive skill. We were all excited when Virtanen and his 18 goals drew into the lineup during the Minnesota Wild series. Let’s not forget that Gaudette was right behind Virtanen on the team for goals with 12 of his own in 10 fewer games.
Plus how much of an emotional boost would one of these be?
— Sportsnet 650 (@Sportsnet650) November 17, 2019