The new-look Vancouver Canucks made a great first impression under new head coach Bruce Boudreau. Now the quest is to replicate that immediate success when they play host to the Boston Bruins on Wednesday.
The Canucks, within hours of seeing coach Travis Green and general manager Jim Benning fired, along with their assistants, responded Monday to handily beat the Los Angeles Kings and left the ice to a standing ovation from a fan base that was mutinous when they lost two nights earlier.
"It usually happens when a new coach comes in. I hope it doesn't stop," Boudreau said. "I just keep telling them that they're good players. I've always thought they were good players. They've got to start believing that they're good players. And when they do that, they'll be fine."
"Message received" by a few struggling players, such as forward Brock Boeser, who snapped a 13-game goal drought and had to deal with the self-doubt that comes during a cold spell.
"I've had some good chances over this drought, hitting posts and crossbars, and that's the one that goes in," Boeser said of his shot that ricocheted off a defenseman's skate en route to finding the net. "It's crazy how this game works."
One of the few Canucks who was performing up to standard all season is goaltender Thatcher Demko, and Boudreau's arrival coincided with a well-deserved first shutout of the season.
"A weird day," Demko said. "It's something I've never been through as a player. Travis and (assistant coach Nolan Baumgartner) and Jim have been around since I turned pro, so it was a weird day. That's the only way I can describe it. Obviously, you never want to see that happen, but a decision was made and you can feel Bruce's energy right away."
The Bruins are kicking off a three-game road trip through Western Canada and dealing with plenty of adversity of their own. Fortunately, top-line forward Brad Marchand will return to the lineup after serving a three-game suspension, but illness is affecting their team. Head coach Bruce Cassidy won't be on the trip after testing positive for COVID-19, and a collection of players are battling non-COVID-19 sickness.
The Bruins delayed their cross-continent trip a day to allow everyone an extra day to move closer to 100-percent health.
"Our medical staff is doing the best they can to navigate through all that," said assistant coach Joe Sacco, who has been guiding the team in Cassidy's absence.
Boston is coming off a 3-2 overtime loss to Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday, and is currently on a 3-2-1 run in a win-one, lose-one stretch. Certainly the Bruins are facing a difficult trip that includes clashes with the Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers.
"These aren't teams we typically follow, but they play hard," Marchand said. "They're really good teams. And obviously with the weapons that Edmonton has, they're always dangerous, and Vancouver making some changes that normally lights a fire. So, it's going to be a tough road trip. ... Those are good teams that are going to have good runs this year. It's a good measuring stick for us."
On top of it all, top-line center Patrice Bergeron will be forced to wear a full face shield for the next while after having surgery to fix a broken nose suffered recently.
"It's more for breathing purposes," Bergeron said after Tuesday's practice. "I think the modeling career is over by now anyway. We had a few days, so it was a good time to do it."
--Field Level Media