Vancouver Canucks, Bruce Boudreau

Canucks NHL AM Skate: Game On!, ‘Suck at Hockey’

The Vancouver Canucks will try to finish up their four-game home stretch with a record of 2-and-2 and begin a winning week with a victory over the Montreal Canadiens on Monday night.

In the past seven days at Rogers Arena the Canucks have lost to the Washington Capitals 5-1, dropped a 5-1 decision to the Florida Panthers, and beaten the Arizona Coyotes in overtime, 3-2.

The Habs come in with a record of 12-11-and-1, coming off a 5-3 loss against the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday.

Their greatest attribute: youthful speed and skill.

“Montreal is quicker (than Arizona) and they’ve got more skilled guys,” Canucks head coach Bruce Boudreau said Sunday. “We have to be better tomorrow than we were last night to be able to compete with them.”

Montreal’s 23-year-old first year captain Nick Suzuki leads the way in team scoring with 26 points, half of them goals, followed by 21-year-old Cole Caufield (22 points) and 21-year-old Kirby Dach (18 points).

Let’s Skate!

What’s the biggest surprise in the Pacific Division on the downside right now? It would have to be the defending division champs, the Calgary Flames, starting the season 11-10-and-3. They’re two points ahead of the Canucks with a game in hand.

Chatting with folks in southern Alberta, part of the problem has been out-of-sync offensive production and the other part has been the goaltending of number-one guy Jacob Markstrom. The 32-year-old Swedish netminder said so himself over the weekend, much to the protest of his teammates.

“I just suck at hockey right now,” Markstrom said after a loss to the Canadiens. The former Canucks goalie has started this season 8-6-and-2 with an .889 save percentage.

Road Warriors

The most intriguing match-up on the NHL calendar on Monday outside of British Columbia is the Vegas Golden Knights visiting the Boston Bruins. It marks the return of former Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy to his former building for the first time. “Butch” led Boston to the playoffs in all six of his seasons in Beantown, including a trip to the Stanley Cup Final in 2019.

Cassidy previously ran the bench of the Bruins AHL affiliate in Providence, Rhode Island for five seasons and was an assistant coach there for three seasons before that.

The other obvious attribute to this match-up; the Bruins lead the Atlantic Division with 40 points, second most in the NHL behind the New Jersey Devils, while the Golden Knights lead the Pacific with 37, 3rd most in the league.

The Golden Knights don’t seem to mind the challenge of entering hostile buildings. They have an extremely good road record of 11-2-and-1 this season that would be tops in the NHL if it weren’t for the ridiculous Devils who are 11-and-1 away from home.

Enjoy the Hockey Action !!

Rob Simpson

Rob Simpson has covered the NHL in five different decades. He’s authored 4 books on hockey and is a veteran TV and radio play-by-play man and reporter.