Vancouver Canucks forwards Brock Boeser and Phil Di Giuseppe tested positive for Covid on Wednesday and won’t be participating in the game against the Anaheim Ducks. Boeser recently re-found his game and had been a key figure during the Canucks current six-game winning streak while Di Giuseppe had been a recent call-up. A Canucks staff member has also been placed into protocol.
The results followed negative tests yesterday. The players are slated to quarantine for five days in the hotel in Southern California where they must remain asymptomatic and then test negative under new NHL guidelines. The Canucks are scheduled to play the Kings in Los Angeles on Thursday night and the Seattle Kraken on Saturday.
It’s a setback for the Canucks as they begin their three-game road trip, but it actually evens things up a bit against a hot Anaheim Ducks team that’s missing star rookie centre Trevor Zegras due to protocols. They’re also without forwards Sam Steel and Max Comtois for the same reason. Winger Comtois was the club’s leading scorer last season, but has seen limited action and success this campaign after surgery on his right hand.
Despite a thirteen day break between NHL games the Vancouver Canucks will try to pick up the momentum where it left off, utilizing some of the enthusiasm generated by their new head coach Bruce Boudreau and his thus far undefeated tenure.
“When you’re winning, it’s a lot more fun, that just comes with the territory,” Boudreau said after morning skate on Wednesday. “I’ve been really pleasantly surprised how the guys, almost to a man, are staying out longer, coming on earlier (at practices), look like they’re having fun, and at the same time working really hard. I don’t know the full reason of it, I wish I could give you it, I hope it’s because they’re winning and enjoying coming to the rink these days.”
The Ducks sit ten points ahead of the Canucks in the Pacific Division, Anaheim in 2nd place, Vancouver in 7th. However, with a win, the Canucks can move to within a point of both the San Jose Sharks and Los Angeles Kings, and potentially within four points of the third place Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers.
Thatcher Demko gets the start in net against the Ducks. Boudreau expects him to see a challenge.
“They do have a lot of skilled young players, plus they have a lot of good veterans that I remember when I was coaching here still,” Boudreau said. “Their defence is really strong, their goaltending is extremely strong, and their forwards now have a little bit of confidence. (Ryan) Getlaf’s playing like he did five years ago right now, Adam Henrique’s not playing tonight supposedly … and again I think this comes from winning and everybody being happy and the good players step to the front.”
The Travis Green-coached Canucks lost twice to the Ducks within a six-day period between November 9th and the 14th, 3-2 in overtime at Rogers Arena and then 5-1 on the road. Vancouver’s special teams at the time were atrocious, the NHL’s worst penalty kill gave up two Ducks power play goals in the latter game, both to Zegras. Anaheim went 1-for-4 in the earlier game.
Since Boudreau took over the club it has allowed two opposing power play goals in just 12 chances allowed. That’s a PK percentage of 83.3%. Just as important is the fact the team is only giving up an average of two power play chances a night. They’re staying out of the box.
“It’s one thing we’ve stressed, we put it on the board every night,” Boudreau said. “If you take two penalties or less you’re going to have success. One of the phrases that I use is “we’ve gotta check with our legs”, meaning you’ve gotta skate, and they’ve taken that to heart and they’ve done a really good job with it.”
Boudreau’s power play is 5-for-16.
John Gibson gets the start in net for the Ducks, the winner in both previous meetings.