Canucks feel Nikolay Goldobin still has room for improvement

Nikolay Goldobin’s goal helped the Vancouver Canucks hold off the Los Angeles Kings 4-3.

Vancouver Canucks head coach Travis Green sees room for improvement with forward Nikolay Goldobin.

The 22-year-old aspiring sniper has one goal and one assist in four games for Vancouver after being called up from the AHL last month. Goldobin has also been a healthy scratch in four games.

“There are parts of his game that we feel he has to work on,” Green said during a long press conference at Rogers Arena on Tuesday.

“Pretty well every young player has some holes in their game that we want them to work on, and part of his [Goldobin’s] was play away from the puck,” Green added. “I know I say that a lot, but it’s different how you track a puck, how you backcheck, how you protect the puck in your own zone, the pace you play the game when you don’t have the puck.”

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When Goldobin is put in the lineup, it will be for his benefit and the team’s, said Green. “It’s a work in progress with young players. He understands what we’re looking for.”

In response to questions about Goldobin’s effort and work ethic in practice, the bench boss who last season coached him in Utica said, “His opinion of working and my opinion of working are sometimes a little bit different.”

“I will tell you there are not many players in the game that take shortcuts,” Green said. “No matter how good you are, you have to play away from the puck. It’s not like you can just sit and hang out at the red line and wait for someone to get you the puck. The game doesn’t work like that anymore.”

However, the coach sees plenty of upside.

“I’m not saying I am disappointed in Goldy at all,” he said. “I’m happy with how he’s progressing. I am not interested in having players who you score 20 goals and you lose with. We want to win over the long haul and create a culture that is a winning one and there is process to all of that.”

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Goldobin said he’s pushed to work hard in practice but is still learning to keep up. The example set by veterans, notably Daniel Sedin and Henrik Sedin, is one he’s trying to emulate off the ice — and on it, too.

“I’m excited even to see them in the same locker room because they get 1,000 points and it’s unbelievable,” Goldobin said. “Hopefully one day I will get that achievement.”

He said contributing to goals boosts his confidence. He scored against the Carolina Hurricanes on Dec. 5 and set up Brock Boeser for his 13th goal while playing a season-high 13 minutes against Nashville on Nov. 30.

In practice on Tuesday, the left winger was slotted on the second line with Eric Granlund in the centre and Loui Eriksson on the right.

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