Not even a two week break could stop the Boudreau Boost.
Fresh off their 2-1 overtime victory over the Anaheim Ducks last night, the Canucks will look for their eighth straight win in Los Angeles tonight against the Kings.
And if you ask the players and coaches, they’ll tell you the momentum of winning six straight games before the COVID-19 layoff has turned into something far more sustainable:
“We knew in the second period we kinda had them,” J.T. Miller said after last night’s win. “Character-type win like that.”
Head coach Bruce Boudreau echoed Miller’s sentiments about the value of confidence, but also added another element: the fun that comes from winning games.
“I think winning generates confidence, and confidence makes you play without fear of making mistakes,” Boudreau said. “When you come to the rink and you’re having fun because winning is the most fun, I think that gives you confidence to play good all the time. Especially when you get down, you have that belief that you can win.”
Hearing that type of message coming from within the Canucks’ locker room is an important step in the right direction. When a team goes through as many hills and valleys as this group has, it’s just as hard for the players to know what their true capabilities are as it is for the people watching them.
And that goes beyond the team’s performance as a whole. Tanner Pearson, who’d been struggling scoring-wise in recent outings, potted the tying goal off a tremendous heads-up play by Quinn Hughes, one of Pearson’s team-leading seven shots on the night.
— Point Shot (@PointShotHockey) December 30, 2021
“I felt I’ve been getting my chances, they were just not going in,” Pearson said last night. “It was nice to get that one.”
Special teams also seem to be finally finding their footing. Defenceman Luke Schenn spoke today about the recent success of the Canucks’ penalty kill yesterday, and how changes have factored into the unit’s sudden turnaround.
“We’ve kinda reshaped a few things and had a couple different changes to the system,” Schenn said. “We’re using more guys on the penalty kill which is also good, you’re able to keep guys more fresh.”
“All in all, it’s a work in progress. I don’t think we’re quite where we think we can be, but there’s no question we’ve improved.”
It’s hard to decipher which team is the real one, but the Canucks seem to figuring it out for themselves. And at just the right time.
Their opponents across the ice tonight, the Kings, sit one valuable point in between Vancouver and the thick of the wild card race with an extra game in hand. Los Angeles will be playing their second game since the Christmas break, after a 6-3 loss at home to the Vegas Golden Knights on Tuesday.
Jaroslav Halak will get the start tonight, marking his second appearance in the team’s last four games. His last start during the team’s big come-from-behind win over the Columbus Blue Jackets marked his first win in six tries this year, but with the extra layoff between games, it’ll be interesting to see if the club’s confidence carried over for the veteran goalie too.
The puck drops at the newly renamed Crypto.com Arena between the Canucks and Kings at 7:30 PM tonight.