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Nucks Misconduct Roundtable: Bruce Bumps & Home Stand Preview Edition

Are they actually going to do the thing? Discussing playoffs, the Bruce Bump and the offensive defence.

NHL: Vancouver Canucks at Toronto Maple Leafs Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

It’s time for another edition of the Nucks Misconduct Roundtable. We get our writers together and ask them a number of questions about the state of this team we’ve been cursed to follow. Sometimes they play it straight, sometimes it’s Westy and Jimmi, but you’ll always get the unvarnished opinions on the Canucks here.

Vancouver Canucks v Toronto Maple Leafs
Thatcher Demko #35 of the Vancouver Canucks makes the save against the Toronto Maple Leafs during the second period at the Scotiabank Arena on March 5, 2022 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
Photo by Kevin Sousa/NHLI via Getty Images

1- The Canucks wrapped up an Eastern road swing winning three of the four games. Of these wins, which was the most impressive?

Westy - The win on the Isle was more impressive for me. After getting their ass handed to them in New Jersey, it would have not been a surprise to see them fold up after the Isles to a 3-2 lead in the 3rd period. And seeing the young guys, Hogz and Podz score to complete the comeback was great.

Rob - Completing the season sweep of the pending 2022 Stanley Cup Champion Toronto Maple Laffs was most impressive to me. The last game of a road trip is always a hard one to win for the visiting team and they managed to complete a third period comeback victory in regulation.

jimmi - The Most Important Game in the Universe was obviously the least important win as it broke with over a decade-long tradition of losing in the epicenter of the CoTU. The gnashing of HNIC’s bias was audible across the country CoTU as the least important team in the league rallied - violating many natural commentary laws - to victory over the most important one.

Beggsy - Hard choice between two comeback wins, but I’d go with the victory over the Leafs. The Canucks got their asses handed to them in the third second period. To see them come out that strong in the third period, on the road against a damn good team was impressive.

Plus, it was a win over the Leafs, which always feels a little sweeter.

Kent- This was a tough one, because there was a lot to like in each of these. The game against the Rangers, where they were able to keep one of the NHL’s hottest goalscorers off the score sheet, score twice in the first period, put together one of their best second period efforts of the season, then snuff out any hope of a comeback was impressive. The Toronto game was great because it’s been so long since they won in Toronto that there’s a generation of Canucks fans who never saw it happen, and that’s awesome. For me the Islanders win ruled though. This was an average team that they just couldn’t beat no matter what, and for it to be spearheaded by the Kidz, it was downright inspirational and I have no doubt it helped fuel them in Toronto.

Vancouver Canucks v Toronto Maple Leafs
Tanner Pearson #70 of the Vancouver Canucks skates against the Toronto Maple Leafs during the first period at the Scotiabank Arena on March 5, 2022 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
Photo by Kevin Sousa/NHLI via Getty Images

2- Elias Pettersson has been lights out since the arrival of Bruce Boudreau, but there’s been a number of role players who have benefitted immensely from the ‘Bruce Bump’. Who’s your pick for the guy who really stepped up since the off ice purge?

Westy - I think the team defence has got better under Bruce, which is ironic, because Green always preached a defense-first system. If I had to pick a player, I would choose OEL. He is steady defensively and is getting more aggressive on the offence. It may have not led to lots of points but the threat of him skating and shooting opens up more space for other players.

Rob - Healthy scratch Juho Lammikko has turned into a combined Artem Chubarov/Manny Malhotra bottom-six center since Bruce (There It Is!) Boudreau arrived in Rain City. He is the glue that holds the 4th (3rd?) line together making it arguably the Canucks most effective line currently.

jimmi - Agree with my unimportant colleagues - and I will add my unimportant comments to mention the much improved Mr. Myers’ play - where the brainfarts are more objectionable, but less frequent.

Beggsy - Tanner Pearson is one for me who’s been quietly, really good under Boudreau. He leads this team with 2.25 points-per-60 — a first line rate — in 28 games under the new coach. He had just eight points in 25 games under Green.

Doesn’t matter which line he’s been on, any forward trio featuring Pearson seems to be clicking.

Kent- Ain’t it strange that we actually have a number of guys to choose from? Tanner Pearson’s been so good in this stretch, a solid two player that can be plugged anywhere in the lineup, and honestly could be as valuable to the Canucks in a playoff run as he could be used as a trade chip. The Tyler Myers redemption story is one of this year’s underrated tales, and he deserves a ton of credit for really stepping up his play in the back end. I am gonna go with the entire fourth line here though. We already knew that Tyler Motte had shown flashes of greatness in that role, but did anyone foresee that Motte along with Matthew Highmore and Juho Lammikko would become one of the Canucks most dependable lines once Boudreau arrived? And an honorable mention to Alex Chiasson, who has handled going back and forth from the press box and given a solid effort when he’s been in.

Vancouver Canucks v Montreal Canadiens
Christian Dvorak #28 of the Montreal Canadiens prepares for a face-off against Bo Horvat #53 of the Vancouver Canucks in the NHL game at the Bell Centre on November 29, 2021 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
Photo by Francois Lacasse/NHLI via Getty Images

3- Now that we’ve gotten through this road trip, a tough schedule remains in March for the Canucks. Focusing on the upcoming 7 game homestand that starts with a visit from the red-hot Montreal Canadiens on Wednesday, let’s have your predictions for how they’ll fare.

Westy - Hardest part of the schedule for the year and that’s a weird thing to say considering the record of some the teams coming into Vancouver. But the Canucks haven’t had a lot of success against these Eastern teams. I would consider a 4-3 record pretty good, but it won’t help them get into the playoffs. Realistically, the Nucks need to go 5-2. Of course this means they’ll go 2-3-2.

Rob - The second Bruce Boudreau 7-win bump of the season will occur this time all on friendly ice putting the team-of-many-colours into a playoff spot. This will drive Jimbo 2.0 and his management team bonkers in deciding what to do at the trade deadline with Jimbo 1.0’s playoff roster. The 7th win of bump two will occur the day before the day that trading ends.

jimmi - Rob is bumping the BBBump up the ladder of excess. I like that. Very much. Will throw my invisible hat in the ring with Rob - but only until Wednesday - after that it’s 66% solutions FTW.

Beggsy - It’s tempting not to just get drunk off of Rob’s optimism!

On this homestand, the Canucks absolutely need to beat three bad teams who’ve all beat them this season in Detroit, Buffalo and New Jersey. Then, they need to win at least two of four against Montreal, Washington, Tampa and Calgary.

Like Westy said, 5-2 is the absolute minimum needed if they want to keep their playoff hopes alive.

Kent- 7 games. 4 against non-playoff teams, and 2 of the other 3 against upper echelon squads. I think they beat Montreal, who are due for a burst of their new coach bubble. I also think they can defeat Washington, who will fall into that trap of gearing up against the Flames and Oilers then looking at the Canucks as the easy game of the three. They can take down Detroit and Buffalo, especially given how those teams are playing of late, and much like the win over the Islanders, the Devils streak ends next week. Tampa’s so tough, and I don’t see them winning that one, or the Flames game, as they will be out for blood after getting utterly embarrassed by the Canucks in their last meeting. I think 5-2 is reasonable, though.

Vancouver Canucks v Winnipeg Jets
Goaltender Spencer Martin #30 of the Vancouver Canucks looks on during a first period stoppage of play against the Winnipeg Jets at Canada Life Centre on January 27, 2022 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.
Photo by Jonathan Kozub/NHLI via Getty Images

4- With just two wins on the season, it’s fair to say that the Canucks have not gotten what they’d hoped out of Jaroslav Halak. Should they look at having Spencer Martin come back in a backup role/insurance policy?

Westy - I’m not sure how you entice another team to take Halak without losing a draft pick. I think the team is stuck with him.

Rob - Halak’s 2-6-2 record is the reason the Vancouver Canucks aren’t currently in a playoff spot. I don’t know how you can force coach BB to call his name again this season. I am a season ticket holder of the Abbotsford Canucks and Spencer Martin reminds me more and more of Thatcher Demko every game I watch him. The NHL Canucks have space on their 23 man roster to carry three goalies when needed by juggling Cap Space. Say no to more Halak! Say yes to Jordan Binnington 2.0 (Stanley Cup Version)!

jimmi - Again, my astute NM heavy-drinkers echo my groggy thoughts. Halak is horrible. Despite his vast professional experience, he was not ready for firewagon hockey. Did he not watch any Nucking tape before signing a lucrative contract with a no-movement clause? Or... as it seems - he didn’t care. Send him to Abby or the waiver wire or the buyout club.

Beggsy - I’ve always had a soft spot for the Slovak Halak. His last three games have been horrid, but for a large chunk of the season, he was one of the best goalies at five-on-five.

The Canucks would be wise lucky to get out from his cap hit and bring in Spencer Martin. I don’t see that being very likely.

Kent- It’s a tough call. The obvious thing is to trade Halak, but, and this may come as a surprise to some, our old pal Mr Benning gave him a NMC on his one year deal which is just stupid, and that’s saying a lot in the context of it all. Thanks, Jim. Halak has said he wants to stay, but perhaps the right contender could sway this. The other factor is taking away the one-two punch the Abbotsford Canucks are using as they head towards the playoffs in their inaugural season in the AHL, which is a heck of a feat and a good sign given the lack of clear homerun prospects in the cupboard at the moment. There is the possibility of sending him down, but I don’t know if that would actually happen. They truly need a reliable backup down the stretch, or they run the risk of burning Demko out before they even make the playoffs, and risk missing because of it. They can’t seem to get a stolen game from Halak right now, and they need it in the worst possible way.

Ottawa Senators v Vegas Golden Knights
Jack Eichel #9 of the Vegas Golden Knights reacts in the second period of a game against the Ottawa Senators at T-Mobile Arena on March 06, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Golden Knights defeated the Senators 2-1.
Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

5- So let’s say the Canucks do actually make the playoffs: Who’s the team that gets ejected out of the eight currently above the line?

Westy - I would love to see Vegas drop out after they got Eichel. The better chance is that Dallas continues to plays below average on the road and maybe the Canucks can get the 2nd wild card spot.

Rob - I can see the Los Angeles Kings hitting a rough spot and doing a quick tumble. Smashville has been on a downward decline currently. Dallas is playing above their heads and could hit the skids. But the focus should be on Vegas. The big Canucks have three games left with them with two of them at Rogers Arena all within ten days in early April. It’s time for the G-Knights to ‘craps-out’.

jimmi - Again, my crystal-gazing ballroom dance callers are spot on the mic. And I must side address their mic as well. It is imperative the Gollum Nights be defeated by the Nucks and 20 other opponents in every game until season end. It would be horrible, yet again, for Lost Wages fans to lose the thrill of playing the Bettman Wheel of Misfortune on draft lotto night. Stop depriving your fans of the full NHL experience, LV!

However, there could still be a greater tOil to be taken as the hockey angels of los plummet to a fowl and well-deserved 12th card before the big dance. If you know what I mean - which I don’t.

Beggsy - I don’t trust LA despite their strong record. Vegas’s slide is interesting but I think they’ll figure it out.

Nashville and Dallas are right there with the Canucks but based on their edge in the standings, I think they’ll both be hard to catch. Both of those teams have goalies (Juuse Saros, Jake Oettinger) who are playing almost as well as Demko.

I honestly think the Canucks best chance of making the playoffs is finishing ahead of LA, Anaheim and Edmonton to finish third in the division.

Kent- What’s best for the West and for the NHL in general? Vegas missing and it’s not even close. The signs are there, and the hilarity double punch of blaming it on Eichel disrupting the chemistry and the league’s most entitled fan base having to deal with actual hardship for their team would be popcorn-worthy social media reading. I do see either Nashville or Dallas getting caught by one of the teams chasing. Anaheim is the most likely, and the least? The Edmonton Oilers. They simply don’t have the goaltending, and will have to trade away too much to try and fix it.