Canucks notebook: Pettersson’s protracted search for a puzzling dynamic presence

“It’s tough mentally when you feel like you have the weight of the world on your shoulders. All you want to do is help the team win. ‘ – Bo Horvat on fighting Elias Pettersson

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“It has to sound repetitive.”


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Here’s how Travis Green began his assessment of another one-goal loss Sunday in Boston.

The Vancouver Canucks head coach sang the same chorus Monday in another attempt to explain how Elias Pettersson can hopefully find his once dynamic presence and completion.

After all, like the rest of us, Green is used to the slippery Swedish center being the one responsible at both ends of the ice, doing his dekes, and letting that heavy, precise single timer fly.

Yet just one assist in their previous nine games and one goal in their last 10, heading into a showdown in Montreal, has gone well beyond the slump stage. Something is strangely wrong. Pettersson was on the bench when Jaroslav Halak was called off by the extra hitter against the Bruins.


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Noodle on it.

Not only are the points not there, just 10 (3-7) in 22 games and 2.8 shots per start, the lack of participation is puzzling. The trickle down effect is that he is on track to score 37 points.

Pettersson had the courage to dominate by taking a hit and landing a reverse hit. It was the first on the late check. The 2019 Calder Trophy winner racked up consecutive 66-point seasons, before a hyperextended wrist sidelined center for the past 30 games last season and reduced his ERA to 21 points (10-11) in 26 games.

Pettersson has said that the doll is fine, so what is really at stake?

Did the suspension of the contract, the absence from training camp and playing only two preseason games have such a dramatic effect? Is the pressure of a large contract extension coming to Pettersson or is it as simple as everyone knowing his name and game, and learning to deny his effectiveness?


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“It’s no secret that he hasn’t been at the top of his game and we’re trying to help him get there with a little extra work on and off the ice to fine-tune his game and try to find his game,” Green said. “In part it is the confidence in a young man (23) who is not doing as well as he wants.

“It is a very fine line. There is a lot of communication with him and if things don’t go well you have to go back to work. He’s at his best when he’s skating and racing, hard on the puck and playing a quick game. “

Is the message falling on deaf ears? Green doubts it.

“He’s a proud guy, he wants to do well,” added the coach. “He’s going through adversity, maybe for the first time in his career, and the team is going through it too. We have a lot of guys trying to find their own way and progress.


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“It is different when your team is not winning. When you are, the mood is different. He’s struggling with things right now and we have to help him get out of it. Go back to what brought you here. For him, it’s that relentless work, playing free and safe, and also playing fast. “

Pettersson has company in the fight to deliver offense. Brock Boeser has scored a goal in his last 11 games heading into Monday and a point in his last nine. Bo Horvat has scored a goal in his last 10 outings.

For young players, droughts can seem more daunting because they don’t have the body of work to take advantage of.

“You remind them that they are not alone in this and you don’t make them feel like they are on an island, and they have no one to turn to,” Horvat said. “We have to do this together. I feel like everyone goes through this in their career. I’ve been through that and a lot of guys in that room have been through what Petey is going through.


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“It’s tough mentally when you feel like you have the weight of the world on your shoulders. All you want to do is help the team win and I know I felt that in May of the second year. Obviously, he is feeling it now.

“The most important thing for him is to work hard, do the little things away from the record and not worry about points, and that’s going to change for him.”

The Canucks have a third-party option for players. Alex Hodgins is the club’s mental performance coach and sometimes hearing a different voice can have an impact.


Horvat said a three-game suspension was warranted for Bruins winger Brad Marchand, who launched a dangerous kill on Oliver Ekman-Larsson in search of a loose puck Sunday.

“He definitely took him there and I’m glad (Ekman-Larsson) is doing well,” the Canucks captain said.

The NHL’s Department of Player Safety said this of Marchand in a video ruling: “He hooks up with his upper body and pulls Ekman-Larsson backward while simultaneously extending his right leg as a lever to bring Ekman down. Larsson. These actions caused Ekman-Larsson to fall dangerously to the ice. “

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