As the Vancouver Canucks season comes to a close, the team faces many questions heading into the offseason. One highly talked about topic lately has been if they will bring back coach Bruce Boudreau next season. According to Elliotte Friedman of the 32 Thoughts Podcast, there have been some discussions on whether the Canucks will bring him back next season or not. With that in mind, here are three reasons why Vancouver needs to ensure he is behind the bench during the 2022-23 season.
Bruce Knows How to Win
Since Boudreau was brought in, the Canucks are 24-13-7 and have found themselves back in the playoff race. They have seen an increase in goals per game from 2.36 to 3.05 as well as a decrease in goals against per game from 3.16 to 2.66. While it may be too little too late for Vancouver, he has restored belief in this team that they can at least challenge for a postseason berth with the personnel they have on the roster.
Turning teams around is nothing new for Boudreau. In 2007-2008, he helped the Washington Capitals finish first in their division after a 6-14-1 record. That season, he was given the Jack Adams awarded to the best coach in the NHL. Then there was the 2011-12 Anaheim Ducks that started the season 7-13-4 before he came in and helped them finish with a 34-36-12 record. Lastly, his first year in Minnesota saw him take an 87-point team and transform them into a 106-point team. He knows how to turn teams around and has proven it once again this season with Vancouver.
Special Teams Improvement
The biggest difference since Boudreau arrived has been the Canucks’ play on special teams. During their first 25 games, Vancouver had a 17.4 percent power play while posting a historically bad penalty kill that had an efficiency rate of 65.9 percent. In the past 44 games, both have seen massive improvements, with the power play clicking at 24.4 percent while the penalty kill is operating at 78.2 percent.
The main reason that Boudreau has been able to turn both the penalty kill and power play around has to do with player personnel. Under coach Travis Green, Elias Pettersson and Quinn Hughes were never given an opportunity to play shorthanded. This keeps both star players engaged in the play and also ensures they are not sitting on the bench for long periods of time.
As for the power play, putting Brock Boeser back on the first unit has helped that group become a top-10 power play in the league once again. Since the coaching change happened and he was put back on the first unit, no Canuck forward has more power-play shots and he is tied for the team lead with nine power-play goals. Most importantly, this provides an additional threat that teams need to account for. While Alex Chaisson has had some success being a net-front presence this season, it is nowhere close to the impact the Canucks sniper has had in the past 44 games.
Star Players Have Refound Their Scoring Touch
Boudreau’s high-pace style of play has led to Vancouver’s young superstars finding their scoring touch again. Petterson went from four goals in his first 25 games to 18 in his last 44 while Boeser, who had four goals in his first 22 games, has scored 15 in his past 41. Then there is Canucks captain Bo Horvat who, after a slow start of only seven goals in his first 25, has 19 in his past 39. Overall, the core of this team is finally scoring at the pace expected, which is a major factor in the team’s resurgence.
While the star players will get most of the headlines, Boudreau has also helped players in the bottom-six re-find their game. Juho Lammikko has gone from one point in his first 20 games to 14 in his past 42, while Tanner Pearson has seen an increase from eight points in his first 25 games to 25 in his past 40. His style of coaching and motivating players is working, which has led to the Canucks becoming a more balanced team compared to how they were at the start of the season.
Canucks Should Keep Boudreau as Coach Next Season
Based on how the past 44 games have gone, it would be a mistake for the Canucks to get rid of Boudreau before next season. The players are playing better, and more importantly, the fans love him. He is one of the most honest coaches you will come across as he is not afraid to call out his team for poor efforts but at the same time, understands the importance of giving positive feedback to a player who is playing well. The hope is that fans will have many more opportunities to chant “Bruce there it is!” next season as he has earned the right to be the Canucks’ coach in 2022-23.
Adam is excited to be joining The Hockey Writers as part of the Seattle Kraken and Vancouver Canucks team. His work can also be found at https://www.area51sportsnetwork.com/ where he covers the Vancouver Giants of the Western Hockey League.