What a whirlwind these last few days have been for the Vancouver Canucks.
Coming into Saturday with a 2 game winning streak, it looked like the Canucks may finally be able to turn things around and get back in the race. However, that was not at all the case.
Going up against a struggling Penguins team who also happened to be without the services of Evgeni Malkin, the penalty killing became the biggest thorn at the Canucks’ side again, giving up 2 goals at the end of the 2nd period and leading the team to a 4-1 loss.
Long overdue frustration finally started to mount as the final minutes of the game ticked off, with fans chanting “Fire Benning” accompanied by boos directed towards the team and a jersey being thrown on the ice. It was just the icing on top of what has been a very disappointing season for the Canucks so far, and it was inevitable that after such a performance, some change was about to happen.
Change indeed did happen on Sunday. The tenure of Jim Benning and John Weisbrod finally came to an end after 8 long years of managing the Canucks and veteran coach Bruce Boudreau was hired to fill the void left by Travis Green, who was also relieved of his duties.
With hope and optimism surrounding the team for the first time in a while, The Canucks did not disappoint in Boudreau’s first game behind the bench, as they shut out the LA Kings 4-0 in Alex Edler’s return to the Rog.
In fact, the team checked all the boxes en route to their victory last night, The power play came to life going 2 for 4, and the penalty killing was also perfect, going 3 for 3 against a Kings team that has the 13th best PP unit in the league.
Now, let’s look at 1 pro and 1 con from these last 2 completely different and opposite performances from the team as well as a concluding thought before the Canucks take to the ice to face the Boston Bruins on Wednesday night.
Pro: Podkolzin gets the Bruce-bump
One of the things that would be really interesting to watch under the new coaching staff, is the deployment and ice time of Vasily Podkolzin in the Canucks lineup.
We know that Podklolzin wasn’t exactly given the ice time he deserved on many nights under Green. However, if last night is a sign of things to come, this is bound to change. Podkolzin played nearly 16 minutes last night, which is a 4-minute increase from the average ice time he had under his former bench boss.
There is no doubt that Podkolzin took full advantage of this opportunity, as the 20-year-old was a threat in the offensive zone and causing problems for the Kings defenders on almost every single shift. The Russian also had a great scoring chance from the slot in the 1st period last night and he even managed to pick up an assist on Conor Garland’s goal in the 2nd period.
The Canucks must really be liking how Podkolzin has been progressing as of late and that is certainly a welcome sign for a team fighting to get back in the playoff race.
Podkolzin also scored the lone goal in the Canucks’ 4-1 loss to the Penguins on Saturday, which brought his total up to 5 goals in the season so far.
Con: Can Petey get the Bruce bump?
While there were many things to be optimistic about last night, including Petey showing flashes of his former self, the struggles are still continuing and Pettersson is certainly feeling the heat of it.
The young Swede did show instances where he used his speed to create opportunities and he was hard on the puck on numerous occasions. Regardless, the lack of confidence in Pettersson’s game right now is still evident, as it has been all season long.
For example, while on the powerplay in the 2nd period, Pettersson had a couple of great scoring opportunities in close succession, but for some reason, he opted not to shoot the puck and that caused the Canucks to lose the puck and the Kings clearing the zone as a result.
Pettersson was given a golden opportunity to bump the slump late in the 2nd period, where a shorthanded dash caused him to be hooked and resulted in him being awarded a penalty shot. However, the 23-year-old ended up missing the net as he attempted to pick the corner on Cal Peterson.
Elias has yet to score a goal at 5-on-5 this season, and you can bet the 23-year-old would look to come out with a bang on Wednesday night and bump this slump as soon as he possibly can.
Concluding thought: Is a high-scoring game coming up?
Ever since the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals, the Canucks have played the Boston Bruins 7 times at Rogers Arena. It is worth noting, that the Canucks have scored 5 goals or more in 4 of those 7 games.
As a matter of fact, the Canucks have combined for a total of 26 goals against the Bruins in those 4 particular contests.
Is another high-scoring game about to happen against the Bruins? If so, does this set the perfect stage for some of Vancouver’s struggling forwards to get their confidence going again? Canucks fans, let me know in the comments down below!