Right from his first game behind the bench, it was clear that Bruce Boudreau had an impact on the Vancouver Canucks’ scoring rates as he urged his best offensive players to shoot the puck more at five-on-five.
When Boudreau took over on December 5th, the team saw an uptick in shots from forwards. With Travis Green as their coach, the Canucks were 30th in the NHL when it came to high danger shot attempts (HDCF) with 9.1 HDCF per 60 minutes. Boudreau did a good job of changing the way that the Canucks attacked and saw their high danger shot attempts jump to 23rd in the NHL with a 10.33 HDCF/60.
The Canucks were able to generate more quality shots with Boudreau as the coach but as a whole, the team actually shot the puck more this season when Travis Green was the coach.
The jump in shots from danger areas saw the Canucks’ shooting percentage jump from 5.89% under Green to 8.43% under Boudreau.
We went back and compared some of the Canucks’ top shot-takers’ first 25 games of the season compared to the final 57 and saw some interesting changes to certain players’ shot volume.
All stats are at five-on-five. No special teams, four-on-four or three-on-three overtime will be included in the statistics of this article.
The High Risers
It doesn’t really come as a surprise that J.T. Miller was the highest riser on the Canucks after the coaching change. When it came to five-on-five scoring, Miller went from 1.58 points per 60 minutes to 2.81 points/60.
He was averaging 4.75 shots/60 in his first 25 games of the season and then averaged 6.95 shots/60 in his final 55 games of the year. Boudreau wanted his top players to shoot the puck more and like Tay Money, Miller understood the assignment.
After a slow start to the season, Elias Pettersson found his scoring touch with Boudreau behind the bench. Pettersson was 17th on the Canucks in shots per 60 with Green as the coach and it is clear that he needs to be shooting the puck more than that.
At five-on-five, Pettersson averaged 1.99 more shots per 60 minutes with Boudreau and that augmentation in shots saw his points follow. Pettersson went from having zero goals and two assists in his first 25 games to having 16 goals and 11 assists in his 55 games with Boudreau as the coach.
His wrist not being 100% likely had something to do with the difference in points but it is still a monumental change to production. I had to do a triple-take when seeing that Pettersson had two points at five-on-five in his first 25 games — it’s almost unbelievable.
The captain saw a boost in his production as well as a nice bump in his shots on net with Boudreau. Bo Horvat has 21% more shots on next after the coaching change.
Another small uptick was Horvat’s high danger shot attempts, he had 7% more shots from high danger areas and the change to Boudreau definitely helped him reach 31 goals on the season. When you look at Horvat’s goal production, there was a big boost on the power play under Boudreau as he had 12 goals with the man advantage and 11 goals at five-on-five after the coaching change.
Another veteran who found the net much more after the coaching change, Tanner Pearson went from 8.2 shots per 60 to third on the Canucks with 9.26 shots/60.
With Boudreau as the coach, Pearson was fourth in points per 60 and finished with eight goals and 11 assists in his final 43 games at five-on-five.
A Small Boudreau Bump
Boudreau spent time talking with Boeser early on in his tenure with the Canucks because he always remembered Boeser playing well against the Wild when Boudreau was their coach.
Boeser had 46 shots on net in the first 13 games with Boudreau as the coach. He was averaging 7.02 shots per 60 with Green and had 7.86 shots/60 in his 49 games with Boudreau.
Though he only played 35 games with Boudreau as the coach and saw his production fall from 1.53 points per 60 to 1.05 points per 60, Höglander still saw an uptick in shots on net under Boudreau.
Even though the fit seemed to not work great with Boudreau, Höglander led the Canucks in shots per 60 at five-on-five with 9.61/60 during last year’s conclusion to the season with Boudreau behind the bench.
Even the forwards at the bottom end of the lineup were affected by the Boudreau bump. Juho Lammikko saw a slight increase in shots per 60 as he went from 4.49/60 to 4.92/60.
Lammikko also tripled his point production at five-on-five under Boudreau — going from 0.37 points per 60 to 1.32 points/60.
In the smallest of Boudreau bumps, Tyler Myers went from 4.62 to 4.7 in his shots per 60 at five-on-five.
A Slight Drop
Though he saw his average ice time per game jump by more than a minute a night, Vasily Podkolzin did see a small drop off in his shots on net.
Podkolzin went from 7.28 shots per 60 to 6.92 shots per 60 after the coaching change. He did have the same amount of points per 60 as Bo Horvat with Boudreau as the coach. Podkolzin had 1.17 points per 60 with Green and 1.58 points per 60 with Boudreau.
As we mentioned earlier in the article, Boudreau focused on high danger shots much more than simply shooting from any part of the ice. This is most noticeable in Oliver Ekman-Larsson’s shot volume.
At the time of the coaching change, OEL was 10th in the NHL in shot attempts at five-on-five. He was averaging 7.85 shots per 60 and saw a dramatic drop once Boudreau took over. OEL had just 4.59 shots on net per 60 in his final 54 games of the season but this should not be looked at as a bad thing. The Canucks were actually a much more effective team offensively with OEL on the ice when he was shooting the puck less.
You see, OEL may have been 10th in shot attempts at the time of the coaching change but he was also without a five-on-five goal in the first 25 games of the season.
Boudreau’s change to get more high danger shots obviously worked much better compared to the Canucks’ previous shot selection where they were third-worst in the league when it came to high danger shot attempts.
Simply put, Boudreau did a great job of adjusting the way that the Canucks attacked in the offensive zone and created better scoring chances by transitioning shots from the point to shots from high danger areas.
His shot volume is high on the power play but you may be surprised to hear that Quinn Hughes is actually the lowest on this list of players when it comes to shots per 60 under Boudreau.
Hughes went from 4.35 shots/60 to 3.29 shots/60 but saw his individual scoring chances rise significantly. He was getting 39% more scoring chances with Boudreau as the coach. This effort to avoid low danger shots from the point seemed to work with Hughes as he was taking less shots but generating much more in terms of scoring chances.
Simply put, Conor Garland is just a shot machine at five-on-five. He was averaging 10.74 shots/60 under Green and saw a noticeable drop with Boudreau as he only had 9.48 shots/60 over his final 52 games.
Garland saw a small drop in points/60 but overall looked like he performed very similarly under each coach. The only big jump was his high danger shot attempts. Garland went from 2.68 HDCF/60 to 3.65 HDCF/60 after the coaching change.
In conclusion, the plan from Boudreau becomes clear. He wanted less low danger shots from the point that don’t result in much offence. Boudreau’s defencemen were taking fewer shots but his forward were taking many more high danger shots in place of those low danger attempts from the point.
Most players saw success while others will look to prove themselves to the veteran coach next season. No matter where you are in the lineup, if you get a good look — Boudreau wants you to shoot the puck. He is clear to his top players that they need to shoot the puck if they get an inch of space in a dangerous area.
Let’s hope this trend of creating high danger scoring chances continues to develop through the team with a full offseason and training camp to work on implementing Boudreau’s playstyle. It’s obvious that he wants the puck to be worked into danger zones and that is where a larger percentage of the shots come from. With more time to pick his way through video and maybe even work with his analytics team, we could very easily have an even more dangerous Canucks team next season who begins to get away from being perimeter shooters.
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