Canucks Shut Out Kings in Boudreau’s Coaching Debut

The Vancouver Canucks shut out the Los Angeles Kings 4-0 on Monday night in Bruce Boudreau’s first game as Canucks head coach. The team outplayed the Kings, was hard on the forecheck, and gave fans a reason to cheer for the first time in what feels like months. Here are five takeaways from the team’s fourth home win this season.

“Bruce, There It Is”

The fans at Rogers Arena showed their appreciation for the new bench boss by changing the lyrics to the popular 1993 song “Whoomp! There It Is” by the band Tag Team to “Bruce, There It Is.” Although Boudreau denies hearing it from the bench, the chant was loud, with even the in-house DJ playing the song to go along with the fan’s cheer. More importantly, the fans were having fun again, which is a large turn from the mood and chants that occurred on Saturday night versus the Pittsburgh Penguins.

For the first time in a long time, it feels like optimism has returned to Rogers Arena. There were no “Sell the Team or “Firing Benning chants,” no one threw a jersey on the ice; it was just cheering and excitement for the future. The players seemed to have fed off that energy and produced one of their most exciting and complete games as a result. Canucks hockey looks fun again to watch, and hopefully, it stays that way for the foreseeable future.

Boeser Finally Breaks Through

After 13 games, Brock Boeser finally found the back of the net thanks to a deflected goal on the power play. It was his first goal since Nov. 7 against the Stars, bringing him up to five on the season. The goal also stood up as the game-winner. His 13th career game-winning goal moved him into a tie for 25th all-time in Canucks franchise history.

Related: Canucks Fire Benning & Green, Bring In Boudreau & Walker

The streak was bizarre as Boeser consistently threw pucks to the net during the 13 games. He had 35 shots on goal, which ranked third amongst Canucks during that time frame, and averaged close to 18 minutes a game. His demotion to the second unit power play may have had something to do with his lack of scoring, but he was still averaging 2:33 on the power play during the time span. Regardless, the streak is finally broken and could be the boost he needs to start burying pucks again on a more consistent basis.

Canucks’ Penalty Kill Finally Stepped Up

The Canucks penalty kill has been historically bad this season. Player deployment was a problem, and the team would sit back and let the opposition pass the puck around at will. Tonight was different, however. The Canucks were aggressive on the puck, did not allow the Kings to set up one-timers, and even drew a penalty shot chance by stealing the puck in the neutral zone.

The biggest difference between this game and the rest of the season was player deployment. Players like Elias Pettersson, Vasily Podkolzin, and Bo Horvat got opportunities to kill penalties tonight. Overall, the team only allowed two shots on goal and zero high danger scoring chances. For now, it seems that Boudreau and new assistant coach Scott Walker are willing to give players more opportunities. This strategy worked tonight and will be something to monitor as the season progresses.

Thatcher Demko Finally Gets His Due

Thatcher Demko recorded 31 saves for his first shutout of the season Monday night, and boy did he earn it. Tonight’s game was a relatively easy night for him, having only faced four high danger scoring chances, but he was strong in goal once again and stopped every puck that came towards him. The win-now moves him into a tie for 10th all-time amongst Canucks goaltenders with 93 in his career.

This season has been a tough one for Demko. He has played phenomenally at even strength, but the penalty kill and lack of scoring have resulted in a losing record this season. He has a .932 save percentage (SV%) at even strength this season, but like the rest of the team, he has struggled on the penalty kill with a .821 SV%. The hope is with the Canucks new system in place; they can become a better penalty kill team which should ease the workload and boost the numbers of their number one goaltender.

The Return of the Forecheck

Throughout the season, The Canucks have lacked a forecheck. Players like Connor Garland and Nils Höglander would chase the puck consistently, but it seemed the rest of the team was content to sit back and wait for the opposition to attack. Tonight, however, the forecheck was alive and well. The Canucks were stopping the Kings at their own blueline, and the heavy pressure was the root cause behind Juho Lammikko’s goal tonight.

The forecheck on the penalty kill was very prevalent as well. The Canucks were chasing Kings’ players back into their own zone and not letting them set up their breakout. Overall, the team stepped up and applied pressure all night long. As mentioned, it is only one game, but if the Canucks can keep applying pressure by forechecking on the penalty kill and even strength, they will become a very difficult team to play against.

Change Has Arrived for the Canucks

Change needed to occur, and the results speak for themselves. The Canucks looked rejuvenized and willing to play the style of game needed to win. Playoffs are still a long shot, but if the team continues to have more games like they did Monday night, the fans will be happy even if they miss out on a postseason berth.

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