News has come that Nikolay Goldobin has found himself back in Vancouver Canucks Head Coach Travis Green‘s doghouse. After hearing this, one has to wonder just what he has to do to get back in his good graces. There is no question that Goldobin is a talented young player. It’s his play without the puck that catches the ire of Green. But is the amount of criticism he gets warranted?
Asked agent Igor Larionov about Nikolay Goldobin in the coaches doghouse and his short response was “very disappointed.” #Canucks
— Rick Dhaliwal (@DhaliwalSports) January 15, 2019
Does Nikolay Goldobin Deserve the Doghouse?
Nikolay Goldobin is not the perfect prospect. The 23-year-old shows glimpses of offensive greatness, but his defensive mistakes are frustrating. On Sunday night against the Florida Panthers, Goldobin took a lazy hooking penalty in the third period. It led to the Panthers scoring and caused Goldobin to stay on the bench for the rest of the game.
In 44 games this season, Goldobin has been benched or seen less than 12 minutes of ice time in 11 of them. He has also been a healthy scratch on two different occasions. Travis Green can’t trust him in close game situations, which causes him to stay glued to the bench.
It’s not like Green has given up on Goldobin though. During his second string of healthy scratches recently, the coaching staff devised a practice just to help him. They’re trying, but Goldobin isn’t executing on the ice.
He’s Not the Worst One
There are a few forwards who should be seeing the press box instead of Goldobin. Of the 11 forwards who have played 30 or more games with the Canucks, he sits fourth in Corsi-For Percentage (48.9%) and Relative Corsi-For Percentage (2.2). Vancouver has been a black hole when it comes to defense this season, but Goldobin is not to blame. The fact that he’s fourth in team points as well shows that he is actually a valuable member of the team. The Canucks are better when he’s in the lineup.
Two forwards who should be scratched over Goldobin are Loui Eriksson and Markus Granlund. A lot has been said about Eriksson’s contract and his offensive production, but he was known as a decent defensive player. This season he is putting up numbers worse than Goldobin, but the mistakes he makes aren’t as glaring. Same with Granlund. Even farther down the Corsi chart, Granlund hasn’t been scoring either. It draws frustration from Vancouver fans but keeps the confidence of the coaching staff for whatever reason.
Brandon Sutter is minus-11 at 5-on-5. Markus Granlund is minus-7. Tyler Motte is minus-6. Bo Horvat is minus-5. Nikolay Goldobin is minus-2.
Obviously they play in different roles, but it’s not like Goldobin is getting slaughtered out there.
— Daniel Wagner – Pass it to Bulis (@passittobulis) January 15, 2019
It’s Not Green’s Fault
Travis Green isn’t just trying to win hockey games. He is also trying to coach and develop the kids. He sees something in Goldobin and the way to teach him is through the tough love approach. It may not be the most popular choice in this city, but he has improved as an overall hockey player since coming over from the San Jose Sharks in 2017 in exchange for Jannik Hansen. Green is a large reason why.
How much patience do they have for him? It is quite possible that if Goldobin doesn’t show that he can stay away from the lazy penalties and be a little smarter on the defensive side of the puck, the Canucks could move on from him in a month at the NHL Trade Deadline. The amount of effort being put into coaching him makes flipping him for a second or third-round pick doubtful. He may never turn into the two-way forward that the Canucks want him to be, but he is talented enough offensively that he should have a long career out-scoring his defensive deficiencies.
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