The Vancouver Canucks are playing some of their best hockey of the season under new coach Bruce Boudreau.
Whether it’s good enough to end their recent struggles against the Columbus Blue Jackets remains to be seen.
The Canucks aim to remain undefeated in five games with Boudreau at the helm on Tuesday night, when they’ll also try to avoid a fifth consecutive loss to the visiting Blue Jackets.
Vancouver won back-to-back contests only twice in its first 25 games of the season. But, since Boudreau replaced Travis Green – who was fired amid somewhat of a front-office shakeup on Dec. 5 — the Canucks have won four straight, all at home. That made Boudreau — who served stints coaching Washington, Anaheim and Minnesota — the first coach in Canucks’ history to win his first four games.
“Let’s go for five,” said Boudreau, whose club still resides in the bottom half of the Western Conference with 26 points. “We’re behind the eight ball. We’ve got to keep going after it.”
The Canucks have given up five total goals since Boudreau took the reins of the club. Thatcher Demko, who has stopped 128 of 133 shots faced while starting all four during the winning streak, made 28 saves in Sunday’s 2-1 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes. It was Vancouver’s sixth win in seven games.
“It’s working well so far,” Canucks’ right wing Brock Boeser, who has three goals with two assists in the past five games, told the NHL’s official website. “We’ve got to keep building, getting better at our systems and keep getting wins.”
Beating Columbus, however, has not been easy for the Canucks in recent seasons. Vancouver has dropped its last four meetings with the Blue Jackets, most recently 4-2 at Columbus on Nov. 26.
Demko faced just 20 shots in that game, but allowed three to get past him in a 4-2 defeat. Meanwhile, in the same game, Columbus’ Elvis Merzlikins made 39 saves.
Merzlikins is 2-4-0 with a 4.68 goals-against average on the road this season. On Saturday, he made 28 saves as the Blue Jackets blew a 4-1 lead at Seattle, only to win 5-4 — thanks to Jake Bean’s goal in overtime — in the opener of a five-game road stretch. The victory snapped a five-game road losing streak for the Blue Jackets, who are 5-8-0 away from Columbus this season.
“That was a character win for sure,” Max Domi told the Blue Jackets’ official website. “We found a way to win, and that’s massive for our group. We have to do that for the rest of the road trip — for sure.”
Domi has eight points in his last six games versus Vancouver. Teammate Boone Jenner leads the Blue Jackets with 11 goals, but he has just one in 14 career meetings with the Canucks.
Vancouver’s J.T. Miller has two goals with seven assists over the last seven games, but he has been blanked in his last two contests against Columbus.
–Field Level Media