By: Trent Leith / January 22, 2023
In a parallel universe, this week would’ve been a truly awesome one for the Canucks. The skate was finally freed, and by now they should be well on their way to cementing their place in the standings to lock in a playoff appearance on the other side of the All-Star Break. However, that universe is not the one this Canucks team exists in.
Although the famous flying skate logo did come back into play in an existing way this week, the last seven days have also been riddled with rumours and reports that multiple components of this current Canucks team are going to be departing very soon. Here are your Weekly Fares.
Game 41: January 15th vs. The Caroline Hurricanes
The Canucks started their week off with an early game on Sunday afternoon against the Carolina Hurricanes. Paul Stastny would open the scoring less than two and a half minutes into the game with a one-timer on Colin Delia In the final 35 seconds, the Canes would go up 2-0 when Martinook scored. The Canucks broke up the play leading to the second goal, however, Horvat started to leave the zone a tad early and was ahead of the breakout pass. This resulted in Carolina regaining control and putting them up by two to end the period.
The second period was relatively quiet until the final few minutes when a strong forecheck by Jack Studnicka led to a goal for Ethan Bear. Bear scored his third of the year against his former team upon his return to California. Bear is up to three goals in 35 games, his career high is 5.
JT Miller would tie the game at two from a lead pass from Quinn Hughes. Miller would initially put the puck off the post, but collected his own rebound and didn’t miss the second time. Hughes and Miller have had great success in recent games with an outlet pass from Hughes to Miller in full flight for a breakaway/partial breakaway. It has been a deadly combo of late. Aho would put the Canes up by one in the final three minutes, but Boeser was having none of that. With 17 seconds left, Brock would collect Horvat’s rebound to force overtime.
In overtime, the Canucks seemed to control play and have the lion’s share of the chances. The Canucks had a lot of great chances, highlighted by a great lead pass from Hughes to Miller for a breakaway.
The Highlight of the Canucks in overtime was a fantastic save by Colin Delia to keep the Canucks playing for a full two points. Ultimately the game would need a shoot-out.
Brent Bruns opened the shootout with a missed shot. Kuzmenko was the Canucks’ first shooter, backing the goaltender into the net he scored with a simple wrist shot. This puts Kuzmenko 2/3 in the shootout in the NHL. Svechnikov scored and Miller beat the goalie, but there was not enough momentum to carry his puck into the net. The shoot-out remains at 1-1.
Terravinen’s shot went off the crossbar, but fans in the building thought it was in, upon a closer look it was not. The game was on Pettersson’s stick to finish, Pettersson would make no mistake with a textbook ‘Forsberg’ to get the Canucks their first, and only two points of the road trip.
Game 42: January 18th vs. Tampa Bay Lightening
The Skate was freed. That’s all that really matters here. That’s all you want to read about. But to make sure this article visually looks balanced, I will tell you about the game anyways.
The Canucks couldn’t keep Stamkos’ 500th off the board any longer. Less than five minutes into the game, Stamkos would score a tap-in for his career 500th goal. As his teammates came pouring over the boards to congratulate him, Vancouver fans would give the out-of-towner a standing ovation.
The Canucks would give up three more unanswered including Steven Stamkos’ 501st goal of his career inside the first period. The Canucks have never looked worse, well also never looking better thanks to the flying skate. Spencer Martin would be pulled after this goal, but don’t worry, Collin Delia foresaw this, and he made sure he had red, black and yellow pads made up just for this occasion.
There would be no goals in the second period at all. It wasn’t until Andrei Kuzmenko scored his 18th of the season with his parents in attendance would the scoring opened back up. Quinn Hughes would score again not long after with a backhand to cap off a dynamic show of skill from the young defender. The Canucks would look like they stood a chance for a few moments there, with the team pouring on the shots, but ultimately Stamkos would score again on an empty net to put the game out of reach.
The score wasn’t a true indication of how the game truly was through sixty minutes. The Canucks carried the lion’s share of shots, scoring chances and high-danger chances. The game was won and decided by the players between the pipes. Martin would let in 4 early goals, and Delia wouldn’t let in a single goal during his time in the net. However, Brian Elliott was absolutely lights out, the Canucks would put 39 shots on him, many of them being of high quality, and Elliott saved 37 of them. On the flip side, the Lightning would score on 1/5th of their total shots, ending the game with 25 total.
But hey, the Flying Skate had the Canucks looking like the hottest mess around.
Horvat Going to the All-Star Game
In what should’ve been a given from the release of the initial All-Star roster, it was announced this week that current Canucks Captain Bo Horvat will be joining Elias Pettersson in Florida for the 2023 All-Star weekend.
Bo Horvat was voted in by fans. Even though the fans that voted him in may not be the same fans he plays in front of during the second half of the 2023 campaign, Bo is more than deserving to be at the All-Star game this year, regardless of how he got there.
Bo Horvat trade talks have been reportedly picking up some real steam over the last few weeks. Boston seems to be the talk of the town, as multiple sources have reported that talks between the two clubs are intensifying. This may very well be true, but Boston’s name in particular may be echoing more in the Vancouver market due to the particular history/relationship between the two teams. For many, if not all Canucks fans, the idea that Vancouver’s current captain could wind up spending the rest of his prime years working for the team that cost this city a Stanley Cup victory in 2011. It is a hard pill to swallow, and a headline that sticks.
No matter where Bo winds up, or when he goes, at the very least he is deserving of an invite to the All-Star game due to the tremendous resume that he has built for himself in Vancouver this year. I just wonder if the teams become unbalanced if he is traded outside the Pacific Division before the All-Star Game happens.
Bruce, There He Goes?
It might be the worst-kept secret in hockey right now, Bruce Boudreau’s tenure with the Canucks is all but over. With reports and rumours swirling around Rick Toccett being hired as early as this weekend, Bruce is not long for this team.
On Friday things started to come to a head with emotions being too hard to hide. It started with the morning skate when Bruce was not in attendance. He would joke later to the media that he had them fooled. It goes to show how this isn’t exactly a secret, Bruce, like the rest of us, knows what is coming. Pregame he would get emotional when he was asked what it means to be a coach in the NHL. Shortly after had to leave the media availability.
During the game on Friday night, a “Bruce there it is” chant erupted multiple times despite the score of the game (Brayden will bring you up to speed with that below). It clearly meant a lot to Bruce as after the first chant ended he was seen pounding on his heart as if to show appreciation for all the love he feels from the fans, if not his bosses.
Bruce would keep things light and remind us why he has endeared those closest to him, and the fans in the city with a morbid, but a charming joke to keep things light post-game.
It is certainly unfair to treat your coach like this, a deadman walking (metaphorically of course). It is unfair to pin the blame on him when he almost dragged this roster into the playoffs last season. Bruce isn’t at fault for this team’s poor construction and the resulting poor performance. There is not going to be any real shot at the playoffs this season for the Canucks, why let him go now? Firing your coach mid-season is a way to point the finger and give the team a kick in the pants, but Bruce has been on the job barely a year and is already catching the blame. It is unfair, unkind and short-sighted. Bruce deserves better than this. This is no way to treat an employee and this is a bad look for the organization from a PR standpoint and a recruiting standpoint.
Game 43: January 20th vs. Colorado Avalanche
When the Canucks faced the Avalanche at the beginning of January, they put up an uncharacteristically good performance against the mile-high team. The Canucks left that contest against the most recent Stanley Cup champions with a 4-2 win. However, that game was not this game.
In a more predictable fair, the Avalanche put their foot down on the Canucks’ neck relatively early in the game and simply never let up. Collin Delia was in the net for the Canucks, and although he was by no means the cause of the team’s downfall during this outing, he could not cover up all of Vancouver’s costly mistakes. In the first period, after J.T. Miller batted in a goal that was quickly overturned due to high sticking, J.T. still kept himself involved during the first goal of the game. Failing to control the puck along the boards in the Canucks end, Miller was easily pickpocketed by Andrew Cogliano, who after stealing the puck from Miller, had an unobstructed path to the slot, where he sent one past Delia to make it one nothing.
The second period brought on an immediate 2-0 lead for the Avalanche as a continuing two-man advantage in the opening minute of the frame developed into a textbook powerplay goal for the away team. When the ice becomes that tilted in terms of the numbers of players, and the skill level of the two teams involved, it’s hard not to anticipate an outcome like the one that transpired.
Mikko Rantanen would later make it 3-0 Avalanche at the conclusion of another dominating play by his club. It wouldn’t be until just over halfway through the second period that Elias Pettersson with ungodly quick hands in front of the net would tuck one in to make it 3-1 Canucks.
Former Canuck Brad Hunt would then cap off the period for the Avalanche by bringing the goal difference back to three with a blistering shot from the point.
The second period would be the last period of scoring during this game despite two powerplay opportunities in the third period, Vancouver failed to adjust the scoreboard in their favour. Sympathetic Canucks fans filled the Rogers Arena air with “Bruce There It Is” chants during the final minutes of the game. However, no matter how well-intentioned those chants were, on a macro level, all they seemed to do was underscore the sharp contrast between the optimistic Bruce Boudreau Canucks of last season and the apathetic and underperforming version of the team on display right now.
Game 44: January 21st vs. Edmonton Oilers
The Canucks looked good once again this week, and by “looked good” I mean the flying skate that they were wearing for the third time in a row was making them look good out on the ice, but of course in reality their play left a lot to be desired.
In what many suspected to be one of if not the last Canucks game for coach Bruce Boudreau’s the contest had a bitter-sweet feeling from the start. How can a coach who the organization has clearly shown public disinterest in successfully motivate his team that he is still in charge of? Well, the short answer is he can’t really.
Edmonton would be the first and second team to score on the night with Connor McDavid and Zack Hyman being the only goal-scorers in the first period. Vancouver kept pace with Edmonton both in shots and in scoring chances during most of the first period but ultimately their efforts came without any payoff by the end of the first period.
The second period was a slightly different story. The Canucks kept the pressure on, but it would be Leon Draisaitl for the Oilers who would be the next to score, with a sharp on-ice shot that made its way through the legs of Spencer Martin. Later in the second however, after continued Canucks pressure, who else but Andrei Kuzmenko would get the Canucks their first goal of the night thanks to a long bomb from Elias Petterson.
The third period would start with the ice tilted at 3-1 in favour of the Oilers and although the on-ice product in Vancouver was losing, the cheers rattling through the building for the team’s beloved coach couldn’t have been more positive.
A little over five minutes into the third period, off of a Bo Horvat face-off win and a Quinn Hughes pass, J.T. Miller would burry a one-timmer past Edmonton’s netminder to make it 3-2 Vancouver. Although the play was well executed and brought the team within one goal, the real story of the third, and really the whole game was Bruce.
After a Zack Hyman goal late in the third period, Bruce and his team would opt to make a coach’s challenge for goaltender interference, which ended up being successful at overturning the goal. This of course sent the noise level in the building through the roof.
Ultimately though an empty net goal by the Oilers would make it 4-2 and put the final nail in the coffin for the Canucks. When the final buzzer did ring, “Bruce There It Is” chants were once again echoing through the building, and the game ended with a teary-eyed Bruce Boudreau taking an extra few seconds to soak in the atmosphere and thank the fans before heading down the tunnel for what may be his last time as the head coach of the Vancouver Canucks.