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Boudreau’s Vancouver Canucks Line Juggle – What and Why?

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Vancouver Canucks Head Coach Bruce Boudreau mixed up lines at practice Monday, appearing to fly in the face of his typical policy of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”.

Keeping in mind there are some missing bodies. Brock Boeser and Tanner Pearson, both with upper body injuries, missed practice again on Monday and will not be playing Tuesday night against the Vegas Golden Knights at Rogers Arena. So obviously the Pearson, JT Miller, Elias Pettersson combo we saw on the roadie isn’t available.

After Pearson left the game in the first period in Arizona, the Vancouver Canucks did find success with Alex Chiasson, Miller and Pettersson and also Vasily Podkolzin, Bo Horvat, and Conor Garland.

The latter is the line that truly heated up, combining for back-to-back goals as a unit against the Coyotes, and then in a different form in the third period against the San Jose Sharks.

There is no theory here. It’s an inexact science. It would appear Boudreau has the present luxury of riding some interchangeable chemistry.

“Three games ago, ‘Pods’ and Chiasson played with Miller in the third period and they were the best line on the ice,” Boudreau said. “Last game I didn’t think that line was very good, so, we just move things around and see what works.”

Boudreau’s patience varies. For example, in back-to-back 5-1 victories, he pretty much hung with what clicked until the injury forced his hand.

Against San Jose, he did the 3rd period juggle and found winners.

“I don’t mind it,” Canucks captain Horvat said Monday, “I’ve played with ‘Petey’ and “Garly” and had success and ‘Pods’ has played with JT and had success too, so no matter what our lines are, every lines going to play the same way, we’re going to continue to battle and compete. It’s not like we haven’t played with each other before so we’re familiar with that.”

Here were Monday’s Vancouver Canucks practice lines:

Pettersson, Horvat, Garland

Podkolzin, Miller, Chiasson

Nic Petan, Juho Lammikko, Will Lockwood

Sheldon Dries, Brad Richardson, Kyle Burroughs

Extra: Jason Dickinson

— The bottom six changed even more than the top-6, with defencemen Burroughs and Brad Hunt both getting looks on the 4th line this past week.

— Pettersson worked some magic playing his off-wing during the roadie, but he’s now on his strong side with Horvat in the middle instead of Miller.

“Nothing is etched in stone,” Boudreau confirmed Monday.

Don’t be surprised that if things don’t get off to a fast start Tuesday in a ‘regular season playoff game’ against the Golden Knights, that you see Horvat, Podkolzin and Chiasson again.

For that matter, how much do you want to bet the lines look different Tuesday for the morning skate?  Place your wagers. Right now Boudreau will ride the luxury of confidence while he can.

VHN Managing Editor Rob Simpson has been covering the NHL for three decades on live TV, radio, and as a journalist. He worked his first ever game getting postgame sound as a teenager; it was Vancouver vs. Detroit.

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