There’s a lot more going on around this organization than what will see on the ice tonight when the Vancouver Canucks face off against the Edmonton Oilers.
It’s all but confirmed that this is Bruce Boudreau’s last game as the head coach of this team. He finished Friday night’s postgame availability by saying, “see ya’s tomorrow… I hope.”
The Canucks didn’t have a morning skate today and just for the hockey purists, I’ll bring some stats and notable hockey related things in the what we saw segment of this article.
But we also got to talk to Boudreau in the morning skate and he gave some quotes that we will talk about in the what was said segment of this morning skate article.
Now, let’s get to some hockey stuff — for those who still care about that stuff.
What we saw
If you’ve been following the Oilers for the last 10 days, you’d be a pretty happy camper. The visiting team of tonight’s game is on a five-game winning streak where they have outscored their opponents by a 27-11 count. Their goaltender Stuart Skinner was just named to the Pacific Division’s All-Star roster and Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, Zach Hyman, Ryan McLeod, and Klim Kostin each have three or more goals over this most recent winning streak in oil country.
We don’t really need to tell you who to watch for from the Oilers. They’ve got the best duo in the hockey world and both of Draisaitl and McDavid will be looking for a points night against a Canucks team that has given up an average of 4.36 goals per game over their last 11 games — an 11-game stretch where the Canucks have gone 2-9-0.
The Canucks are also coming into tonight on the second of back-to-backs after losing 4-1 to the defending Stanley Cup Champion Colorado Avalanche on Friday night.
Basically, hammer the over tonight.
As for the Canucks, expect to see Spencer Martin between the pipes after Collin Delia got the start on Friday.
Andrei Kuzmenko, Quinn Hughes, Elias Pettersson and J.T. Miller have been at least point-per-game players over the Canucks’ last eight games. And over those eight games, Elias Pettersson is averaging just a hair under five shots on net per game while averaging 7.13 shot attempts per game over that eight-game stretch.
Saturday night’s game will also see the top power play in the league battle against the worst penalty kill in the league.
The Oilers are clicking with a 30.6% conversion rate with the man advantage and are on track to be the first team in NHL history to have four consecutive season where a team has a power play that converts at over 25%. As for the Canucks, they sit dead last in the NHL for penalty killing — only being able to kill off 66.4% of their penalties.
Anyways, enjoy the game. Let’s get to what was said.
What was said
J.T. Miller spoke about how difficult it is to block out the noise surrounding this organization.
“It’s hard for sure,” said Miller. “But this is our job. Come and be ready and play a rivalry-type game against a fun team to play against. So I think that’s an easy reason for us to get up to want to win this game. [There’s] a lot of reasons to want to win this game. It’s nice knowing that we need to be at our best to have a chance. So it’s another challenge for us and we’ve got to be excited to play.”
Then, there was Bruce. In what may end up being the final time he meets with the Vancouver media.
We asked him about Elias Pettersson and the potential that he has to be one of the top players in this league.
“I think he’s an amazing player,” said Boudreau. “I told him that this morning, and I said, ‘I think you’ve got the potential to be as good as you want to be’. And I do believe he’s a star in this league. I think he’s going to be a star for many more years in this league. I come to him a lot of times and say, ‘listen, I need you to be special tonight’. And he’d say, ‘yeah, I want to be special,’ and things like that. Like I mean, he’s a confident young man, but he loves to be challenged.”
Then came the jokes, as Boudreau made one of his final attempts to make the media laugh.
He was asked if he had a special message for some of the players tonight.
Here’s what he said.
It’s been a treat to deal with Boudreau over the past 13 months. And it feels freeing to see him smile again even if he’s smiling through the pain that is potentially his last head coaching job in the National Hockey League. It’s a crapstorm here in Vancouver and this situation with Boudreau has not been handled well but I guess it lines up with a lot of the other handled situation for this organization in the recent past.
All that being said, enjoy the game tonight.
And if you’re in attendance…
Make sure to do as many “Bruce, there it is” chants as possible. Because though he said he hated it when it began back in December of 2021, he’s a fan of it now.