First things first: As I'm sure you've heard by now, the Vancouver Canucks officially announced that Bruce Boudreau is returning for the 2022-23 season shortly after I posted my last blog on Friday.
Boudreau did a quick Zoom on Friday afternoon, which you can watch here if you like:
As well as saying that he needed a little time to decompress after essentially coaching five months' worth of Game 7s upon his arrival in Vancouver, Boudreau said the other issues that he needed to address were personal. He wanted to get the OK to go back to the west coast from his 90-year-old mother, who lives on her own in Toronto, and from the crew in charge of the junior team that he and his wife own in Hershey, Pennsylvania.
There was no mention of assistant coaches or other staffers, although he told Patrick Johnston
from The Province
that he's aware of Jim Rutherford's comments about wanting the Canucks to play with more structure, and feels he can work on that.
"What Jim was talking about is probably I wasn't paying as close attention to all of these things as I should have," Boudreau said. "And we will get better at it. My whole focus was on wins and losses."
He also told Johnston that he wants to dig more deeply into analytics next season.
"I want to know it more and understand it more," he said. "So I mean, I will be dealing with (senior analyst) Aiden (Fox) much more this summer and fall than I did last year. That's something that they really want to get on."
Boudreau also has one other big project on tap this summer. His Golden Horseshoe Hockey School
in St. Catharines, Ontario, which he runs with his three sons, is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year. The week-long camp will run from Aug. 1-6.
In a separate article, Johnston reported
that the total number of dismissals in the Canucks' human performance department this week is now up to five. In addition to Jon Sanderson, Roger Takahashi and Dave Zarn, whose departures had already been noted, athletic therapist Nick Abbey-Jibb and assistant strength and conditioning coach Ken Hetzel have also been let go.
Now — over to Finland, where the final games of Day 3 of the 2022 IIHF World Championship are underway on Sunday morning as I type this.
After two periods, Sweden is leading Czechia 4-2.
Oliver Ekman-Larsson played 21:14 in the Swedes' tournament-opening 3-1 win over Austria on Friday. And while Linus Karlsson reportedly made the team, he is not appearing on the Swedes' official roster
as of Sunday. They may be keeping some roster spots open in case some NHLers decide to join after being eliminated from the playoffs. Mikael Granlund was a late addition for the Finns after Nashville was knocked out, and Team USA has added Ryan Hartman, Matt Boldy and Jon Merrill from Minnesota.
For the home Finnish side, Juho Lammikko has had a feisty start. The Finns have opened with a 5-0 win over Norway and a 2-1 squeaker against Latvia.
Lammikko started out on the third line with Toni Rajala and Jere Sallinen, who play together with Biel of the Swiss League.
I can't find video of it, but I saw it: toward the end of the second period, Lammikko got in a fight with Norway's Christian Kaasastul. Very rare in international hockey, it was a real NHL-style scrap, and both players were assessed major penalties. A second fight, later in the game, saw Finland's Saku Maenalanen and Norway's Magnus Brekke both ejected.
For Game 2, against Latvia, Lammikko's ice time was elevated to 14:55. But his line was on the ice for the Latvians' only goal of the game, scored by Rudolfs Balcers in the first period.
Even though the Latvians opened with back-to-back games, Elvis Merzlikins played both, with Canucks prospect Arturs Silovs backing up.
Next up on Monday: Latvia faces Norway at 6:20 a.m. PT and Finland takes on USA at 10:20 a.m. PT. Sweden's next game will be Tuesday, against Great Britain.
My bracket is holding up decently at 5-1 so far. My only mistake was picking L.A. to upset Edmonton, but that was an incredible Game 7 performance from Connor McDavid, and the Oilers also played outstanding team defense. Full credit to them.
I was right about Tampa Bay's experience being a little too much for Toronto to overcome. And I feel like the Leafs suck up so much of the oxygen when they're in the playoff picture, it's a relief to me when they get eliminated and the other teams can start getting a bit more airtime and attention.
Very much looking forward to another Battle of Florida.
In my bracket, I took the Lightning to take out the Panthers for the second-straight year. And for the other second-round series that's set, I took Colorado over St. Louis but right now, I'm not so sure. The Blues have a lot going for them, including championship experience. If Jordan Binnington is back to his full power from 2019, this could be very interesting — although it's reported that Darcy Kuemper has been practicing as normal after suffering that first-round eye injury, so it sounds like he'll be good to go.
As for Sunday night's Game 7s: I've got the Rangers and the Flames. I think Dallas has a crack at the upset after how Game 6 ended on Friday night, but I feel fairly confident that the Rangers have the momentum in their series. It could get interesting if Crosby and/or Jarry play for the Penguins, but that's too much uncertainty for me to back them at this point.
It should be another fun night of hockey. Enjoy the games!