Saturday November 12 - Toronto Maple Leafs 3 - Vancouver Canucks 2
Sunday November 13 - Vancouver Canucks at Boston Bruins - 3 p.m. PT - Sportsnet
Another day. Another blown multi-goal lead.
The Vancouver Canucks' woes continued with another loss on Saturday in Toronto. In net, Spencer Martin's personal point streak came to an end after ex-Canuck Jordie Benn scored the game winner in his first game as a Maple Leaf.
So the Canucks are now riding a multi-game losing streak for the first time since they snapped that season-opening seven-game slide, and have a record of 4-8-3 through 15 games.
At this point last season, they were 5-7-2, after having just given up seven goals in back-to-back road games against Colorado and Vegas. That was the disastrous trip where the prospect of big changes was really starting to take hold, though it took another three weeks before the axe was swung to take down Jim Benning and Travis Green.
On '32 Thoughts' on Saturday night, Elliotte Friedman said that there's a sense now that some clarity is required regarding the ongoing status of Bruce Boudreau. Jim Rutherford's discourse certainly suggests that he'd like to have a different coach in charge — and I imagine it's very tough for Boudreau to be at his best when he feels like he doesn't have the support of his management group.
I'm now starting to think that a change may, indeed, come to pass before too long, although I can't quite wrap my head around who that next head coach might be. Does the pendulum swing back to a more no-nonsense bench boss? And would the Canucks be willing to invest in another established name who would probably demand a significant contract commitment — especially given how things have gone for Boudreau? Is Jeremy Colliton waiting in the wings in Abbotsford? The Baby Canucks split their weekend gams again this week, beating the last-place Henderson Silver Knights 2-1 on Thursday and then falling 3-2 on Saturday. Their record sits at 5-4-1 for the year to date: above .500, which looks pretty good compared to the parent club. They're eighth in their 10-team division based on points, but move up to sixth when sorting by points percentage.
But this wildly inconsistent team is still Bruce Boudreau's problem on Sunday, as they touch down in Boston to face the red-hot Bruins for a 3 p.m. PT puck drop.
The Bruins are also on a back-to-back with travel, after picking up a 3-1 win in Buffalo on Saturday night. With a 13-2-0 record under new coach Jim Montgomery, Boston's .867 points percentage is tops in the league. And while Jeremy Swayman is currently sidelined with a leg injury, veteran call-up Keith Kinkaid made 31 saves to earn his first NHL win of the year in Buffalo, which should set up Linus Ullmark to start against Vancouver.
He's 10-1-0 this season, with a .936 save percentage and 1.95 goals-against average, and set to go up against the struggling Thatcher Demko.
The Bruins are also giving up an NHL-low 2.20 goals per game so far this season, have a league-leading penalty kill that's clicking at 94.4% and are now pretty close to healthy, with Swayman's injury the only one of note.
Brad Marchand has 10 points in seven games since coming back early from his offseason double hip surgery. Initially, it was said that one of the conditions of that early return was that he not play back-to-back games. So we'll see if he's in the lineup against Vancouver: my guess is that he will be. He has been playing regular minutes and is riding a four-game point streak, and the Bruins are at home with three days off after Sunday's game.
The Canucks will finish off their road trip on Tuesday in Buffalo before heading back to Rogers Arena for two tough divisional games, against the hot Los Angeles Kings and Vegas Golden Knights.
I wish I'd had more time to pay attention to the Hockey Hall of Fame festivities over the past few days — where Henrik is now present and accounted for. Shawn Roarke from NHL.com
has a fun synopsis of the Q&A from Saturday's fan forum, though Roberto Luongo's assertion that Dustin Byfuglien was the player who most threw him off his game is perhaps less surprising to those of us who remember those playoff series against the Chicago Blackhawks than it was to Roarke.
The actual Hockey Hall of Fame induction ceremony is scheduled for Monday, and will be televised on TSN4 at 5 p.m. PT.
The reason why my attention has been elsewhere over the past few days is because I've been out in Langley and Delta covering the World U-17 Hockey Challenge for The Hockey News
The big story was Team USA's 7-0 undefeated run in the tournament, with record-setting offensive performances from two 16-year-olds whose names you should learn now. Cole Eiserman, a 2024 draft prospect, tied Alex Ovechkin's tournament record with 12 goals in seven games and had a six-point night in USA's 11-3 gold-medal win over Canada Red on Saturday, with three goals and three assists. His linemate, James Hagens, just turned 16 on November 3, so he isn't draft eligible until 2025. He put up two goals and three assists on Saturday to finish with 21 points in seven games — yes, averaging three points a game.
It's early days, but these two could be setting themselves up to follow in the footsteps of Jack Hughes and Cole Caufield. Something to keep an eye on as they progress through the ranks.
I'll also be back out at the Langley Events Centre in a couple of weeks to bear witness to another teenage phenom, as Connor Bedard makes his hometown return when the Regina Pats visit the Vancouver Giants on November 25.
The way things are going, I'm still standing by my theory that the Hockey Gods are determined to find a way to get Bedard onto the Canucks — despite their best efforts to be competitive this year.
Have all the years of draft lottery pain been building toward a franchise-changing moment in 2023?