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Concerned Virtanen's lost physical play and getting a reputation as an 'easy target'


*Buzzsaw*

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I think Virtanen was the obvious pick for Vancouver in the draft... because at that time we needed size.  He was picked for his physicality as well as his scoring touch.

 

However, I am concerned Jake is developing some bad habits and also a reputation.

 

By that I mean his physical play has really tailed off... he is not hitting anywhere near as much as he did in junior.  And hitting is what originally defined his game and it really is the element the Canucks have been missing and need to complement their skilled forwards.

 

He is also developing a reputation as a player who is an easy target, who will take a hit, and not respond.  I have now seen him receive cheapshot dirty hits two or three times, very heavily, with the potential for serious injury.  In all the cases, he did not respond by coming back at the guy who gave him the cheapshot.  In fact, his play typically tails off, and he goes into a shell for the rest of the game.  You cannot do that in this league and expect to survive.  4th line goons and marginal players feed off that... if they think they can get a cheapshot in for free, they will take the opportunity.  I also see him backing down too much in scrums.

 

I don't think it is actually in Jake's nature to fight, and I think he has been a little in awe of the veteran players in the league, but its time to put that behind him.

 

Jake may only have just turned 20, but he is a big kid and he needs to start standing up for himself... he needs to be willing to defend himself, with a hit in response, or with his fists.

 

Coaches and Linden need to sit down with him and talk to him about playing more physically, standing up for himself and also to be a little more aware of his surroundings and realize there are always players out there who will take a cheapshot if the opportunity arises.

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I'm sure he'll be fine. The NHL is a hard league for a young player who is expected to be a physical force every game. He needs to continue filling out as he finds his way through the league. I just wish he had a true legit heavy weight to help him out when things get a little beyond him. Maybe Guddy or Dorsett can help out there

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Was a big fan of him at the draft as he has all the physical gifts but he seems as though he lacks awareness out there.  Doesn't strike me as an intelligent player which may severely limit his development and ceiling.

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9 minutes ago, *Buzzsaw* said:

I think Virtanen was the obvious pick for Vancouver in the draft... because at that time we needed size.  He was picked for his physicality as well as his scoring touch.

 

However, I am concerned Jake is developing some bad habits and also a reputation.

 

By that I mean his physical play has really tailed off... he is not hitting anywhere near as much as he did in junior.  And hitting is what originally defined his game and it really is the element the Canucks have been missing and need to complement their skilled forwards.

 

He is also developing a reputation as a player who is an easy target, who will take a hit, and not respond.  I have now seen him receive cheapshot dirty hits two or three times, very heavily, with the potential for serious injury.  In all the cases, he did not respond by coming back at the guy who gave him the cheapshot.  In fact, his play typically tails off, and he goes into a shell for the rest of the game.  You cannot do that in this league and expect to survive.  4th line goons and marginal players feed off that... if they think they can get a cheapshot in for free, they will take the opportunity.  I also see him backing down too much in scrums.

 

I don't think it is actually in Jake's nature to fight, and I think he has been a little in awe of the veteran players in the league, but its time to put that behind him.

 

Jake may only have just turned 20, but he is a big kid and he needs to start standing up for himself... he needs to be willing to defend himself, with a hit in response, or with his fists.

 

Coaches and Linden need to sit down with him and talk to him about playing more physically, standing up for himself and also to be a little more aware of his surroundings and realize there are always players out there who will take a cheapshot if the opportunity arises.

 

Just now, Hugor Hill said:

I'm concerned that he goes too far sometimes:

 

 

 

I have noticed he is (sometimes) behaving like a bit of a whiner.  You're right that JV needs to be the mean guy, like he did with Nordstrom, but when things happen to him he needs to drop the mitts and chuck some knuckles. I hear he's a lefty in fights.   

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11 minutes ago, *Buzzsaw* said:

 

He is also developing a reputation as a player who is an easy target, who will take a hit, and not respond.  I have now seen him receive cheapshot dirty hits two or three times, very heavily, with the potential for serious injury.  In all the cases, he did not respond by coming back at the guy who gave him the cheapshot. 

 

 

What exactly are you basing this information on? He's taken one heavy hit from Bouma so far, how is that developing a reputation? He's clearly just inexperienced at the NHL level, every player gets nailed like that in this league. 

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17 minutes ago, pluralsight said:

 

What exactly are you basing this information on? He's taken one heavy hit from Bouma so far, how is that developing a reputation? He's clearly just inexperienced at the NHL level, every player gets nailed like that in this league. 

It's just that guys seem to go extra hard when they see the #18, be it a hit or just grinding along the boards. obviously this is every teams strategy against players like him, but if he and the rest of the big boys on our team don't fight back, it's going to hurt his confidence and lead to even more injuries

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You do have to remember that he is facing the best players in the world.  This doesn't mean offensively and defensively, it also means in avoiding and initiating hits.  These guys know how to get out of the way of hits like no other players.  You have to be aware of going to hit someone and all of a sudden they aren't there.  Ask Mike Grier from Edmonton about 10 years ago he went for a hit and the guy wasn't there.  He hit the glass with his arm first and blew out his shoulder.  It's a scary thing to have to worry about injuring yourself when you attempt a hit.

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3 minutes ago, 'NucK™ said:

It just that guy's seem to go extra hard when they see the #18, be it a hit or just grinding along the boards. obviously this is every teams strategy against players like him, but if he and the rest of the big boys on our team don't step up it's going to hurt his confidence and lead to even more injuries

 

You could be right, but I'm not buying that teams are specifically targeting Virt, not at this point anyway. During the first two games, I saw Virt take two big hits because he put himself in a vulnerable position not because he's being targeted. It also doesn't help that he's playing with a bummed shoulder, which makes any hit that much more painful. 

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5 minutes ago, The Sedge said:

not even 1 season worth of games played and the list of "concerns" about this guy is astonishing.

 

Not sure if this is a criticism of Virtanen or a criticism of CDC. I think Virtanen's development has been disappointing so far. Not terrible, but disappointing, especially compared with Horvat or with Ehlers and Nylander.

 

 

5 minutes ago, NUCKER67 said:

I still feel Virtanen should've gone to Utica this year, to get healthy and develop properly under Green. 

 

4 minutes ago, 250Integra said:

He has the tools to become a great player, but he lacks awareness both offensively and defensively. He really needs to go down to the AHL to learn the "Pro game" and re-gain the confidence and playing style that made him a top 10 pick.

 

I agree with these two comments. I also favour sending Virtanen to junior where he can get on top of his game with the help of intensive developmental coaching from Green. (And Utica could use some help.)  Like many others I favored sending Jake down to Utica to start the season, in which case we could have saved Etem. (Not saying Etem was good in preseason, but he could play in the bottom 6 without hurting the team.)

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6 minutes ago, pluralsight said:

 

You could be right, but I'm not buying that teams are specifically targeting Virt, not at this point anyway. During the first two games, I saw Virt take two big hits because he put himself in a vulnerable position not because he's being targeted. It also doesn't help that he's playing with a bummed shoulder, which makes any hit that much more painful. 

Yeah maybe you are right actually... just putting himself in vulnerable positions 

 

If that is the case though, I think he has to realize that he doesn't play the same role as some of the other young guys on the team like horvat, granlund baerstchi, and has to be even more careful to avoid putting himself in vulnerable positions than those guys

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At this point I tend to agree with those who think he should have started the season in the AHL, especially if he had the shoulder injury.

 

I also think he might lose a little of his complacency if that happened, maybe get a little meaner and hungrier.

 

And of course, develop some basic awareness of his surroundings, learn how to position himself to receive hits, learn how to section off the rink to improve his chances of getting into position to deliver a hit, etc. etc.

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