Article content continued
And after testing positive last month for COVID-19, the protocols limited the 33-year-old Benn to five games and tested his resolve to mesh with Hughes.
“Obviously, Huggy makes the game pretty easy for me,” said Benn. “It’s getting the puck to him or getting it out — it’s pretty simple. You know 99 per cent of the time that he’s going to make the right play at the right moment and he has that ability when he’s in a tight spot to escape.”
While there’s a pledge to play rookies this season — Jalen Chatfield pairing with Alex Edler and Olli Juolevi being methodically brought along — a slow start in the tough North Division has put a premium on steadying the ship that resulted in a four-game win streak.
So, the Canucks were 6-5-0 after 11 games, Benn was 4-1-0. But playing the right side as a left shot comes with its challenges for breakouts and playing pucks along the wall.
“I just feel that I can see everything better,” added Benn. “When Huggy gives me the puck on my forehand, I just feel I can naturally see the ice more. I don’t know why, but because I’ve played there so long, I’ve becoming accustomed to it.”
Which says something. It’s easy to get hung up on the wall with backhand plays or put pucks in the middle and have them picked off.
Canucks coach Travis Green has a lot of time for Benn because there’s a natural attraction to a guy who has ground out 522 career NHL games with three teams and hasn’t lost his love for the sport.
“He’s a smart guy,” said Green. “Quinn can sometimes buy you a little time and Benn has done a good job on his off-side and can buy his own time with little subtle and deceptive moves. He’s been sharp with the puck and made good breakout plays on his own.