Bruce Boudreau says he wants to return as Vancouver Canucks head coach
April 29: Edmonton Oilers 3 – Vancouver Canucks 2 (shootout)
The Vancouver Canucks’ rollercoaster 2021-22 season came to an end on Friday night off the stick of Edmonton Oilers forward Devin Shore, in the sixth round of the shootout. On a night when Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl and Mike Smith all rested, Shore’s wrist shot past Spencer Martin was the only attempt to connect for either team.
The Canucks finished with a 3-5 record in shootouts this season, and 5-7 in overtime. All told, they finished out the season with a record of 40-30-12 for 92 points, and a points percentage of .561.
That’s tied for the 14th-best season in franchise history by points percentage, identical to the 2005-06 post-lockout campaign. That was the first year of the salary cap, and also when it became apparent that the magic of the West Coast Express years had been destroyed by the lost season and the Todd Bertuzzi/Steve Moore incident.
It paved the way for Marc Crawford to be replaced by Alain Vigneault at season's end, and for a bold offseason by general manager Dave Nonis. He dealt Bertuzzi away in a multi-player deal that brought Roberto Luongo to Vancouver and also acquired Willie Mitchell and Taylor Pyatt — an eighth-overall draft pick whose two 37-point seasons with the Canucks marked his career high.
Meanwhile, the Sedins were improving while Ryan Kesler, Kevin Bieksa, Alex Burrows and even Jannik Hansen were stepping up from being farmhands to full-time NHLers. Looking at it that way, so many of the key pieces for the Presidents’ Trophy teams were already in place before Mike Gillis came along in 2008.
In some ways, there may be situational parallels between that year and this one — resetting the course after the lockout then, and after Covid now. And while both situations occurred during the Aquilini family's ownership tenure, this time they elected to start making changes back in December instead of waiting until the end of the year.
As we all know, the landscape of 2021-22 looks different when you split the season into the Green and Boudreau regimes.
The final tallies:
Under Green: 25 GP, 8-15-2, 18 points, .360 points percentage, 2.36 goals per game, 3.16 goals against per game, 17.4% on the power play, 64.6% on the penalty kill, 33.6 shots per game, 32 shots against per game, 51.4% on faceoffs.
Under Boudreau: 57 GP, 32-15-10, 74 points, .649 points percentage, 3.28 goals per game, 2.67 goals against per game, 26.7% on the power play, 80.5% on the penalty kill, 31.3 shots per game, 31.8 shots against per game, 52.2% on faceoffs.
Considering how last season imploded around the Canucks’ Covid outbreak in late March, Boudreau should probably get an extra gold star for the fact he accomplished what he did during during the part of this season that had all the game postponements and schedule adjustments. Injuries were certainly still an issue, but he was able to keep his players organized and motivated.
Under Green, the Canucks went 3-12-1 in a stretch of about a month between Oct. 26 and Nov. 28, which included two four-game losing streaks. Under Boudreau, the team never lost more than three in a row.
The tough stretches became valleys instead of canyons, and the one stretch of three outright losses was the trip through Florida, Tampa and Carolina in January — a segment that deserves an asterisk anyway, and which came during the peak of the Omicron wave.
Listening to the ’32 Thoughts’ podcast on Friday, Elliotte Friedman indicated that he now thinks that both Bruce Boudreau and the Canucks would like to continue on together next season. Boudreau also indicated a desire to continue when he spoke to the media following Friday's game. So we'll see where that goes in the days and weeks to come.
The players are speaking to the media at Rogers Arena on Sunday morning. The team has said that coaches and management will speak at a later date to be announced.
Maybe both sides are hoping that they’ll have some confirmation on Boudreau’s future by the time they hold that press conference. In Montreal, Martin St. Louis came out to say that he would be back with the Canadiens next season. Dallas Eakins has also been affirmed in Anaheim, but Steve Yzerman cut ties with Jeff Blashill in Detroit on Saturday, after seven seasons as coach of the Red Wings.
Paul Maurice seems to be one of the buzziest candidates for this summer’s coaching vacancies, and Rick Tocchet’s name is being bandied about for a possible return to a head coaching position.
Lots of teams could be looking to make changes this summer. Among the non-playoff teams, Vegas is certainly in uncharted territory on both the coaching and management sides. San Jose, New Jersey, Chicago, Philadelphia and Seattle could also be looking.
And in a week or so, we’ll have eight teams bounced from the first round of the playoffs — and some of them will also be at a crossroads.
I filled out my bracket on Saturday at NHL.com — always a tortuous task.
And given my luck, I’ve probably doomed any chance of a three-peat by the Tampa Bay Lightning. I think the last time I picked them to go all the way was in 2019, when they suffered the ‘you’ve gotta lose to learn how to win’ sweep at the hands of the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Maybe it’s just habit, but I’m picking the Lightning to upset the Leafs, and the Los Angeles Kings to upset the Oilers in the first round.
Obviously, I like Tampa Bay’s championship pedigree, and knowing what it takes to win. Also, they got over their malaise about a month ago and have been terrific down the stretch. And unlike the last three years — they’re healthy this time around. They also have some hungry new guys like Nick Paul and Brandon Hagel, getting a chance to challenge for their first championships.
In L.A., the Kings have done a great job of bringing up some young defensemen to fill holes this year while they’ve been shortstaffed on the blue line. I think players like Sean Durzi, Tobias Bjornfot, Mikey Anderson and Jordan Spence could surprise some people against McDavid and company.
With Drew Doughty out for the season, the Kings’ veteran D-pair is Alex Edler, 35, and 27-year-old Troy Stecher, who’s four months older than Olli Maatta.
Up front, they’ve got Anze Kopitar and Phillip Danault to play shutdown roles. And in the battle of the old-guy goalies, I like Jonathan Quick’s experience over Mike Smith’s bravado in a playoff setting (and Quick is four years younger — that’s a lot in goalie years!)
The Kings just need to find a few goals in order to engineer the upset.
So here goes nothing: my first-round picks:
Fla – Was: Panthers in 5
Tor – TBL: Lightning in 5
Car – Bos: Hurricanes in 6
NYR – Pit: Rangers in 5
Col – Nash: Avalanche in 5
Min – StL: Blues in 7
Cal – Dal: Flames in 6
Edm – LAK: Kings in 6
And finally — life moves fast in the AHL.
I feel like it was less than a week ago that I was confidently prognosticating that the Abbotsford Canucks had locked up third place in the Pacific Division, and would have home-ice advantage in their first-round playoff series against the Henderson Silver Knights.
Unfortunately, with Spencer Martin and several other farmhands called into service in Vancouver, Abbotsford laid a big egg in their last two regular-season games. They slipped to fifth place, which means they’ll play that first-round best-of-three on the road against the Bakersfield Condors.
If there’s a silver lining, it’s that Bakersfield is Edmonton’s farm team, so the Oilers will still be keeping all hands on deck with the big club for the playoffs. Henderson could be getting reinforcements from Vegas — much like Abbotsford has done from Vancouver.
In the best-of-three format in the Pacific, things happen quickly. The first two games will be played next Tuesday and Wednesday in Bakersfield (both 7 p.m. PT), with Game 3, if necessary, on Monday, May 9.