McKenzie on Pettersson: ‘That was a transcendent performance’

Elias Pettersson has been absolutely electric on the ice this season, bringing the Vancouver marketplace to its feet time and time again.

Friday night’s five-point performance against the Colorado Avalanche - the fourth multi-point effort in nine starts for the Canucks rookie- was something to behold.

“What are we watching unfold right now out West with Elias Pettersson?”

“Seems like something special, doesn’t it?” marvelled Bob McKenzie when asked during a Monday morning radio hit on Winnipeg’s TSN 1290. “I mean, that game on Friday night - I called it a game for the ages. Some people said, ‘Well, that’s an overreaction.’ Not really.

“The team wins 7-6, he gets five points. He was in on just about everything, and he did it in so many different ways. He had a really nice assist to free Brock Boeser up for a quasi-breakaway goal, and then he had the Sedinesque indirect pass off the end boards that was really… everybody else was playing checkers in that game, he was playing chess. Boeser went and picked it up off the boards and scored a nice goal. That was spectacular. That shows a guy who process the game on a different level than most mortals.

“He got a goal in traffic. Not only did he score the game-winning goal on a power play in overtime, but he drew the penalty for the power play in overtime when he had a breakaway. I thought he should have had a penalty shot.

“So five points on the night and that was a transcendent performance. This is a hockey player who I believe thinks the game on such an elite level, and in spite of the fact that he’s not the biggest guy in the world, he’s able to make every player on the ice that much better.

“But he’s also got an elite-level shot, which he didn’t used to have. I found it interesting that in his draft year, his shot was just so-so. And he knew it wasn’t good enough. So what he did was he decided that he was going to improve his shot. And the manner in which he decided to improve that shot was he broke his shot into 12 very specific areas. ‘12 aspects of my shot that need to be better.’

“And then each day he went out and practiced and worked on one of those aspects, and over time managed to do all 12. And he took his shot, which was pretty average, to it’s phenomenal now.

“And there’s not very many hockey players that process on that level. I think he can process the game when it’s at its fastest, and I think he’s going to be a special player because of that.”

Pettersson was the fifth overall selection in the 2017 draft, and is in the first season of his entry-level contract.