All things considered, despite all of the distractions around recent criticism of the coaching staff and a five-game road trip that seemed to drag on and on and on, the Vancouver Canucks wrapped up their roadie with a respectable 2-and-3 record.
The bookend victories came against the Ottawa Senators 6-4 on November 8th and 5-4 against the Buffalo Sabres Tuesday night. In between came a 5-2 loss to the Montreal Canadiens, a 3-2 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs, and a 5-2 defeat at the hands of the Boston Bruins.
“You just don’t want to go home on a losing note, with the schedule that we have up ahead of us,” Canucks Head Coach Bruce Boudreau said postgame. “Hopefully this gives us a little bit of confidence to play against LA next and then the gauntlet that we’re going to be running after that.”
Boudreau is referring to three games in six days against the 13-and-3 Vegas Golden Knights at home on Monday, followed by a visit to the defending Stanley Cup champion Colorado Avalanche on Wednesday and then Vegas again on the road a week from Saturday.
Daunting, but actually an opportunity for the Canucks to re-establish themselves and salvage their season. The club is in no position, regardless of the opponents moving forward, to end up with middling results.
Canucks Stars Shine, As Does Depth
The Canucks top players came up big on Tuesday night. Bo Horvat, second in the NHL in goals behind only Connor McDavid, notched one of his 14 this season in the 2nd period. He added two assists against the Sabres.
J.T. Miller was the beneficiary of one of those helpers, a clean offensive zone faceoff win on the power play that Miller ripped home from the slot. He added an assist.
“They were great, they were great on the power play,” Boudreau said after Tuesday’s win. “Miller played 25-minutes. For a forward, that’s probably the most I’ve ever played a forward in a non-overtime game in my memory, and Bo was only 22 (minutes) because he took two penalties, and I thought (Conor) Garland worked really well today.”
Will Lockwood tallied his first ever NHL point in his 16th career game with a first period assist on Dakota Joshua’s 3rd goal of the season in the first period. The Canucks 4th-line set the table.
“I’ve gotta give kudos to that (centre Nils) Aman line, they were really good as well,” Boudreau added. “Lockwood played really good for his first game of the year, so hopefully he can continue doing that.”
Vancouver’s scratches for the Buffalo game: Jack Rathbone and Riley Stillman on D; Vasily Podkolzin up front.
The Canucks will have a day off Wednesday before practising Thursday ahead of Friday’s home match against the Kings.