While longer term changes continue to be examined, short-term game day manoeuvres are being made by the Vancouver Canucks as they try to get back into the win column after dropping three games below .500 with two consecutive losses at Rogers Arena.
Winger Brock Boeser, in his sixth full NHL season, will be a healthy scratch against the Arizona Coyotes on Saturday night, the first time he’s experienced such a move since he was a rookie.
“Sometimes tough love is tough love,” said Canucks head coach Bruce Boudreau Saturday morning. “I know he’s capable of being much better. We want to win and we need him over the long haul to win. We need to be better. It could have been one of a few guys.”
Boeser is pointless in his last three games with one shot-on-goal in each. He’s a minus-14 player for the Canucks on the season. More modern analytics find his game slipping, his on-ice expected goals have dropped.
Right-shot D-man Kyle Burroughs is also a scratch. Dakota Joshua is added to the forward group while Riley Stillman will be the 6th defenceman.
One Year Since the Purge
This is day 365 since the Vancouver Canucks lost 4-1 to the Pittsburgh Penguins in Travis Green’s final game as Canucks head coach and Jim Benning’s final one as general manager. That was December 4th, 2021. Boudreau was hired immediately after and won his first game as head coach on December 6th against the Los Angeles Kings 4-0.
Talk about coming full circle. After a rousing charge that fell a few points short of the post-season last spring, ‘Gabby’ finds himself in a similar boat to ‘Greener’ just a quarter of the way through this season.
The Arizona game is simply one of those ‘must-wins’ for the Canucks to keep any hopes alive; hopes for a playoff push and hopes for a continued coaching tenure.
The loss of number-one Canucks goaltender Thatcher Demko for six weeks obviously doesn’t help matters. Having recently ‘found his game’ after a slow start to the season, Demko went down with a lower body injury late in the first period against the Florida Panthers on Thursday night, having just given up three goals in a 1:33 span.
He was replaced by Spencer Martin who now takes over the moniker as ‘number-one NHL goalie’.
“If I was Spencer, I’d be going ‘OK, now’s my chance to prove to the world that I’m not a back-up, I’m a great goaltender,'” Boudreau said. “He’s proven it already to us, but now he can prove it to everybody.”
Collin Delia will back up Martin.
— The Minnesota Wild beat the Anaheim Ducks 5-4 in a shoot-out Saturday afternoon. The Wild are tied with the Nashville Predators for the two Western Conference playoff spots at the moment with records of 12-9-and-2. Their 26 points puts them five ahead of the Canucks with a game in hand.