Vancouver Canucks 2017-18 season preview: Boston Bruins edition

BOSTON, MA - APRIL 23: Zdeno Chara
BOSTON, MA - APRIL 23: Zdeno Chara /

The Vancouver Canucks are not in a rebuild because of the Boston Bruins. Let’s just make that clear.

Though the 2011 Stanley Cup playoffs were more than six years ago and the Vancouver Canucks today look almost nothing like the team that was one win away from the cup, there is something about the franchise’s lone trip to the finals that creates a “rivalry” between the Canucks and the Boston Bruins.

Let’s face it. There is nothing about these two clubs that makes them rivals today. But we still love games against the Boston Bruins because it brings back memories and we just love to hate Brad Marchand.

Truth be told, it is a pity that the Canucks and the Bruins play only two games a season these days, only one in Rogers Arena.

But that is now history, one that happened even before Bo Horvat entered the Ontario Hockey League. Yes, when the 2011 playoffs were happening, the future of Vancouver hockey was playing in triple-A midget.

The Boston Bruins, like the Canucks, have since undergone a flurry of changes and look nothing like the team from six years ago.

The Bruins were the top penalty kill team in the league Let’s see what these Big Bad Bruins were up to this offseason.

Offseason Changes

The Bruins did not make a whole lot of changes this offseason, which seems to indicate that they will try to let the younger guys make the lineup.

Boston Bruins (44-31-7, Conference Quarterfinals)

2016-17 vs. Vancouver
  • (4-3) Boston @Boston
  • (6-3) Boston @Vancouver

2017-18 vs. Vancouver

  • Oct. 19 @Boston
  • Feb. 17 @Vancouver

One thing to consider about the away game in Boston is that the Canucks are playing in Buffalo the very next day. Goaltending decision could get interesting as this would be the first back-to-back situations the Canucks will face this season.

3 Storylines to Watch in 2017-18

  1. David Pastrnak & Bo Horvat: RFA versus RFA

After scoring 70 points in 75 games last season, David Pastrnak is looking to sign a big contract at age 21. The Bruins are refusing to pay more than $6 million/season, however. Though Horvat likely won’t demand nearly that much, it will be interesting to compare the two players, each respectively their team’s top young star, throughout the season.

Both being RFAs currently, we’ll see how their contracts turn out and how their seasons turn out.

Oh, by the way, Pastrnak was selected right after Jared McCann was picked.

2. Olli Juolevi vs. Charlie McAvoy: 2016 Draft’s top defenders

Speaking of comparing young players, there are a couple of young defensemen to compare. Charlie McAvoy from Boston University was selected 14th overall after Olli Juolevi was selected by the Canucks fifth overall.

More from The Canuck Way

McAvoy made his NHL debut last year during the playoffs, playing top minutes for the Bruins against the Senators.

Some project McAvoy will be a top-pairing defender to the right of Zdeno Chara this upcoming season. After Chara hangs up the skates, McAvoy may become the Bruins’ number one blueliner for the years to come as they infuse youth into the lineup.

While Juolevi isn’t set to make the NHL this season, what are the odds in the long run that McAvoy becomes a better player than Juolevi?

Quite frankly, I have a bad feeling about this. Not that Juolevi is anything short of a great prospect, just that McAvoy is a lot better than some made him out to be.

3. Will Markus Granlund continue his dominance against the Bruins?

While the Canucks were winless against the Bruins this past season, there was one standout performer, none other than Markus Granlund. He had three goals in two games against the Bruins, flashing his shot and hockey IQ creating chances with the Sedins and on the power play.

It will be interesting to see if Granlund will find himself a home on the Sedin line or if he will continue his strong play against the Bruins. With Jannik Hansen and Alexandre Burrows both gone, Granlund has a pretty good chance at that, if you ask me.

Next: 30-in-30 Arizona Coyotes Preview

The Boston-Vancouver rivalry may not be what it once used to be. But there seems to be something about the Bruins that make the Sedins play with a little more urgency.

Am I getting mixed messages whether these Bruins games are special for Vancouver or not? Yes. Am I eager to see the Bruins come to town on February 17th, 2018 regardless? You bet.