It’s not about the coach, but then again it is. The Vancouver Canucks Bruce Boudreau can set a new NHL record for consecutive wins by a head coach starting his tenure with a hockey team. Wednesday night’s 2-1 overtime victory against the Anaheim Ducks ran his streak of victories to seven.
“Gabby” is presently tied with Geoff Ward of the 2019-’20 Calgary Flames and Jacques Lemaire of the 1993-’94 New Jersey Devils. Ward, currently an assistant coach with the Ducks, had a chance to watch Boudreau tie his streak in person.
Naturally, the record is nice for Boudreau, but for him it’s about the bigger picture. It means his team is winning.
“Our first period wasn’t that strong and we got better and better,” Boudreau stated, “I thought (Ducks goalie John) Gibson had to be at his best, I mean we had some really Grade-A chances in the last two periods. I’m really proud of them, they just gutted it out and there’s a will-to-win, and that will-to-win took over tonight.”
With the victory the Vancouver Canucks also climbed all the way back to the .500 mark on the season. Truly remarkable given their awful start, especially turning it around this quickly, all within the calendar month. On December 4th when the new coach took over the team was 8-15-and-2. After December 29th they stand at 15-15-and-2.
The Canucks are also reeling in Pacific Division opponents, although most have at least one game in-hand. Regardless, with a regulation win Thursday night in Los Angeles, coupled with a San Jose regulation loss at home to the Philadelphia Flyers, the Canucks would hop over the Kings and Sharks into sole possession of 5th place.
Don’t look now, again, games-in-hand pending, but the Vancouver Canucks have already moved to within shouting distance, four points, of both the Calgary Flames and the Edmonton Oilers.
“We’re moving in the right direction,” JT Miller said. “We’re not really doing a whole lot of different things than when we were losing, to be quite honest with you. We’re rounding into more of a complete game right now, we’re finding ways to win.”
Miller factored in both Canucks goals. He had an assist on Tanner Pearson’s third period tally and then scored the game winning goal :26-seconds into overtime against his childhood hockey chum Gibson. In a twist, on the day the 2022 World Junior Championships were cancelled, Miller scored against his 2013 WJC Gold Medal teammate.
He now has a team-leading 34 points in 32 games played.
The Los Angeles Kings represent the start of Boudreau’s winning streak in Vancouver, suffering the 4-0 loss at Rogers Arena in that game back on the 4th. They’d like nothing more than to end it. The Kings have been humming along around the .500 mark much of the season, presently working at 14-12-and-5.
Jonathan Quick has been handling most of the goaltending for the Kings, but he was yanked in the second period on Tuesday night after giving up five goals on 15 shots against the Vegas Golden Knights. Head coach Todd McLellan has a decision to make with sturdy back-up Cal Petersen ready to stand in.
The Kings have the NHL’s 5th worst power play at 11.8% and the 6th worst penalty kill at 76.1%. The Canucks still have the worst PK at 68.4% but they’ve killed off 14 of 16 under Boudreau (87.5%) and are 5-for-18 on his power play. (27.7%)
Vancouver Canucks fans went from lamenting a dead season to anticipating the next stop in a tantalizingly alive one.