Which Bruce Boudreau-impacted Canucks trends are here to stay?
Photo credit:© Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
By Noah Strang1 year ago
The transition from the Travis Green era to the Bruce Boudreau era has gone smoothly for the Vancouver Canucks who have gained 17 out of a possible 22 points with their new coach. It’s been a remarkable turnaround for a team that was sitting near the bottom of the standings while fans threw jerseys on the ice just over a month ago.
While Boudreau has brought some different strategies and tactics, there’s only so much you can do on such short notice and it seems as if much of the newfound success can be attributed to a change in energy and confidence around the organization. While that’s great, it’s also slightly worrisome as it begs the question as to how many of these changes are sustainable.
So let’s take a deeper look at some of the early trends from the Boudreau era in Vancouver and see which are here to stay and which are a flash in the pan.
2.04 goals allowed / 60 – 1st in NHL
A big part of the Canucks’ success under Boudreau has been their defence. Since the coaching change occurred, the Canucks are first in the league as they’re only allowing slightly over two goals allowed per sixty minutes in all situations. That’s the best rate in the league and a large difference from the results earlier in the season.
While there are a few different factors that have contributed to this success, the largest without a question has been the dominant play of Thatcher Demko. The Canucks second-round selection in 2014 continues to improve every year and has now placed himself in conversations with the league’s best goalies.
Demko was named the NHL’s 3rd star of the month for December due to his tremendous play and he was the main motor behind the Canucks’ long winning streak. While he still might continue to perform as a top-tier goalie, his numbers will regress back down to earth and the Canucks goals allowed will follow.
Verdict: Hanging on by a thread
The resurgence of Tyler Myers
Tyler Myers has often been ridiculed throughout his time in Vancouver because of his hefty cap hit. While never a terrible player, it was the type of contract that looked bad the moment the ink dried. However, since Boudreau has arrived Myers has been playing some of the best hockey of his career, all in a larger role as well.
With Boudreau behind the bench, Myers has been playing the most of anyone besides Quinn Hughes and has been thriving. He has the second-highest xGF% (53.25%) of any regular Canucks defensemen and has been on the ice for 12 goals at 5-on-5 compared to only 5 against.
His individual points percentage is still low compared to his career average, so we could even see his name on the scoresheet a bit more often in these coming games. Overall, he’s having a very positive impact on the ice and has clearly earned more of Boudreau’s trust.
The one caveat to mention when it comes to Myers’ impressive play and analytics is that he has been a beneficiary of Demko’s outstanding goaltending, just like every other Canuck. As Demko returns to earth, Myers will find he can’t get away with as much defensively.
Verdict: Here to stay (for the most part)
Elias Petterson’s struggles continue
Elias Pettersson has been going through the toughest stretch of his career so far this season. The points haven’t been there, his mojo has been missing, and it’s been downright hard to watch him at points. He hasn’t looked like the player he’s been in previous years and it’s resulted in him being shuffled around the lineup as they attempt to find a solution.
Many hoped that the transition from Green to Boudreau would be enough to get Petersson back to his best but even as the team has done a 180-degree turn, Pettersson has largely had nothing to do with it. He has just 5 points in the 11 games under Boudreau.
However, there’s reason to believe that Pettersson has started to show signs of a turnaround. Not only has he started to stand out when watching the games more often, but he’s also shooting 16.67% at 5-on-5 under Boudreau compared to just around 5% for the season. He’s always been known for his devastating shot and it’s encouraging to see that number rebound.
Now, it’s just about finding the confidence to shoot more often and the linemates to help him get open. It really feels like the floodgates are going to open for Pettersson any game now and when they do, all of Vancouver will collectively take a big breath of relief.
Verdict: Too talented not to turn things around
JT Miller is playing like an all-star
Under Bruce Boudreau, J.T. Miller has been playing like an all-star. He’s going to have to beat out candidates from all the other Pacific Divison teams if he’s going to be a participant at the NHL’s 2022 All-Star Weekend, but he’s earned the title with his play.
While Miller wasn’t playing poorly under Travis Green, he has taken another step with Boudreau. Playing alongside Tanner Pearson is a new combination that has worked out quite well as the two hound opposing defensemen with a relentless forecheck.
Through the 11 games that Boudreau has been the boss, Miller leads the team with 13 points including two goals and eight primary assists. He’s also been winning 53.22% of his faceoffs, providing value for the team in a multitude of ways.
It’s clear that Boudreau’s arrival has helped Miller find this next level in his game, no matter if it’s because of the different energy around the club or a change in linemates and situation.
“There’s not much grey area with him [Boudreau]. He expects you to play the right way,” said Miller to the media after practice in early January. “Play hard, don’t turn the puck over, and have good practice habits.”
The Canucks will have to make a decision on what happens with Miller as his contract is up after next year and he will be looking for a large extension.
Verdict: Here to stay
Do you think that these trends are here to stay or are they a flash in the pan? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.
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