Ugh! Not an unexpected ‘ugh’ all things considered, but a painful 5-2 loss nonetheless for the Vancouver Canucks in Boston against the Bruins, a team that has now won nine straight home games to remain undefeated at TD Garden.
It increases the intensity of the questions surrounding the future of the coaching staff, or at least head coach Bruce Boudreau. It’s been said often, and unfortunately in this case one might wish it wasn’t true: “you can’t fire the players”.
“We’re gonna get off to a better start this season”, “We have to get off to a better start this season”, “We’re really looking forward to starting a full season with Bruce”. Really?!
Goalie Thatcher Demko has been off, last season’s leading scorer J.T. Miller, who of course signed a big fat contract extension this summer, managed to pick up his 9th goal of the season despite a slow start, and Brock Boeser, who said this would be the season he scored 30 goals doesn’t have one yet in ten games played. He’s been bothered by a hand injury.
We could keep going through the list.
The game was even on Sunday in terms of basic statistics, other than the fact the Canucks lost a whopping 64% of the face-offs. Shots were 32-31 in favour of the Bruins, the hits, blocked shots and giveaways were practically even, and both teams went 2-for-6 on the power play.
Don’t be fooled; Boston was simply the tighter, more polished all around team.
“I didn’t think we played too bad, honest to goodness,” Boudreau said postgame. “I know that it’s a 4-2 game basically, but we worked our butts off, especially in the third period where we never quit, which is a really good sign, but it’s not good enough.”
The Bruins fifth goal was an empty-netter.
Bruins TV commentator Andy Brickley summed up the D-zone efforts of the Canucks following Boston’s first period power play goal by saying “Vancouver’s doing very little to prevent it!” As in the pass that led to the goal. The Canucks weren’t moving their feet.
On the next Bruins goal, Pavel Zacha’s in the 2nd period that came at four-on-four, “Brick” was spot on again in his criticism:
“And then you make a line change on a four-on-four and give up numbers in the opposite direction?” he shouted. “Man, I’ve got a problem with that, but that’s what Vancouver did!”
The Canucks were beaten long before Brad Marchand scored with 2:37 remaining in the 2nd period to make it 4-1.
“You can see why they’re having trouble killing penalties … look at how wide that gap is.”
Boudreau said the two Bruins power play goals came as a result of dumb Canucks penalties. Mental mistakes were the difference.
“If they’re gonna get mentally uninvolved after sixteen games then we’ve got a bigger problem than we think here,” Boudreau said.
The Canucks confidence appears to be in the gutter. They’ve lost three in a row and are now 4-9-and-3 on the season. The only reason they’re not in last place in the Pacific Division with their 11 points, 15 back of the leader, is because the Anaheim Ducks have just nine.
— Vasily Podkolzin left the game after a first period fight and did not return. The club could have an update on his condition Monday. The Bruins play the Buffalo Sabres to wrap up their road trip on Tuesday night.