Canucks Notebook: Justin Dowling Making a Solid Case to Stick

VANCOUVER – It says a lot that a week into the regular season, the forward who led the Vancouver Canucks on the ice Tuesday against the Seattle Kraken was depth candidate Justin Dowling.

It’s time for the “bubble” players trying to make the Canucks and Dowling, a 31-year-old player who has registered 76 games in his NHL career and played a useful role for the Dallas Stars in the last three seasons, have your biggest awesome day in Vancouver.

Russian rookie Vasily Podkolzin also easily had his best day of the preseason, and Jason Dickinson, the Stars’ high-profile acquisition, played the powerful two-way game the Canucks have been waiting for since training camp opened.

All of this individual urgency didn’t exactly translate into a win, as the Kraken dressed nearly their entire NHL lineup and won 4-0. But Vancouver outshot Seattle 38-25, and the high play from the guys trying to make or advance the lineup was encouraging.

Dowling, who appears to be close to securing the fourth row center spot with two preseason games remaining, logged 19:35 of time on ice, played more than four minutes each in the power play and on penalties, took 15 meetings and he looked exactly like the versatile and competent forward the Canucks had hoped for.

“I don’t remember the last time I played for about 20 minutes but obviously it’s good to have the opportunity and to be able to play in all situations and show what I can do,” Dowling said. “I think it just shows that they trust you. I am new to the team. . . new to the organization so it’s nice to be able to go out there and show that I can do it. “

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Dowling was part of an army of players the Canucks signed in free agency to push for a job in the NHL while ensuring organizational depth and a strong talent base for Vancouver’s new farm team in nearby Abbotsford, BC. He signed a one-way, two-year contract. for $ 750,000 a season, which could also make Cochrane’s center Alta. a salary-capped steal if he makes the NHL roster.

“In the past few years, I’ve been known as a guy who can come out and play any role that is necessary, and I pride myself on that,” he said. “I think it’s good to have that, to bring a lot of tools to the game.”


After his NHL prep was the main media topic at morning skateboarding, Podkolzin had an excellent game after a quiet start to camp that saw coach Travis Green push the 20-year-old down the lineup. .

Playing with Dowling, Podkolzin had three shots and four hits and showed frankness and confidence in his offensive game. In a memorable foray into the Seattle net in the second period, Podkolzin hung on former Norris Trophy winner Mark Giordano to get one-on-one with goalkeeper Philipp Grubauer, the game’s first star.

“I thought that was his best game,” Green said. “His pace was higher. You could see he put his feet in motion tonight. He was physical. It’s fun when you skate, when you move your feet, a lot of things open up in your game, not just with the puck, but from the puck, which allows you to be physical and use your strength. “

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After Green spent several days of preseason, especially before the weekend return of young stars Elias Pettersson and Quinn Hughes, he eased the tension across the organization, seemingly saying as little as possible, the coach gave an expansive response and revealing before Tuesday’s game when asked. on expectations in the market for young players like Podkolzin and fellow rookie Jack Rathbone.

With many expected to establish themselves in the top nine forwards as a 20-year-old from Russia, and starting on the line with JT Miller, Podkolzin has had a disappointing preseason.

“I think these two young men are excellent young players, and we are lucky to have them,” Green told reporters after the morning skating. “At the end of the day, we’ll see where they end. I really don’t know right now.

“I always tend to slow down a little bit just because I know that… you don’t need to put more pressure on a player. Let them come in and play. Let them play and become the player they are going to be instead of us deciding which player will be before him.

“It is important that we develop them in the right way, and it may not always meet everyone’s standards or wishes. Maybe in the past people didn’t like the way we developed certain players or questioned it, but I think we’ve done a good job developing some of these youngsters. I also tend to think about it from their (perspective) and make sure they are protected. We want the best for them. “

On Podkolzin specifically, Green said: “Do you have things to work on? Yes, but I really like it. Now, when you say that you like a player, that does not mean that they are going to give it all at once. But he’s a hard worker, he pays attention to detail, he wants to learn, he’s strong on the record. We will try to speed up your pace a bit. . . make your feet move. All these are things that in young players… there is a lot to learn. It is not an easy league just to get in and play. I like him a lot as a player and we will have to make a decision on him at the end of the camp.

Podkolzin gave Green more to think about Tuesday night. And in a positive way.

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