Make that two in a row for the Vancouver Canucks.
The team hit the ice on Wednesday night, facing off against the big, bad Boston Bruins at Rogers Arena. The Canucks, who were coming off a decisive and exciting 4-0 victory against the LA Kings on Monday night, were looking to secure their second win of their current homestand and just their 10th win of the season, while Boston was looking to get back into the win column after falling to Tampa Bay on Saturday night.
It was a hard-fought battle all night, with both teams limiting high-danger, grade-A scoring chances and shutting down their opponents in the neutral zone. As expected, there was lots of animosity and physicality on display, especially with Brad Marchand returning from his three-game suspension, which he received during his most recent contest against Vancouver on November 28th.
Vancouver and Boston also combined for 68 shots and 48 hits, delivering a playoff-like contest to the fans in attendance.
The Canucks were eventually able to come away with the extra point after 65 minutes, thanks to J.T. Miller and Bo Horvat, securing the second straight win for new bench boss Bruce Boudreau, who was rewarded with another round of “Bruce! There it is!” chants from the recently-optimistic fanbase.
With the shootout victory, Vancouver leapfrogged Seattle to reclaim seventh in the Pacific Division with a record of 10-15-2, but still have quite the journey to dig themselves out of the league’s basement.
Here are 3 takeaways from Wednesday’s 2-1 shootout win over Boston:
Hughes, Myers step up on the blueline
The Vancouver blueline was once again put to the test on Wednesday night.
The first hurdle occurred right before puck drop, when it was revealed that Oliver Ekman-Larsson would not play due to an undisclosed injury. With Ekman-Larsson out, Boudreau had to reshuffle his defensive combinations, promoting Luke Schenn to the first pairing with Tyler Myers, while Kyle Burroughs slotted back onto the third pairing with Tucker Poolman.
The bad news continued in the middle frame when Travis Hamonic was forced to go to the dressing room after taking a late interference hit from Marchand. The 31-year-old blueliner, who was just playing in his second game back, did not return for the remainder of the contest, putting all of the defensive responsibility on Myers and Quinn Hughes.
As a result, the two players each notched just over 28 minutes of ice time throughout three periods, including 11+ minutes in the final frame for Myers, who was utilized on both the powerplay and penalty kill in the absence of Ekman-Larsson.
Hughes also finished the evening with 12 shot attempts and a 65.31% Corsi For.
The defence was able to come away from this game relatively unscathed, large in part to Hughes and Myers carrying much of the play, but there could be some concern moving forward if Hamonic and Ekman-Larsson are sidelined long-term, especially given Vancouver’s well-known lack of depth on the blueline.
Boudreau did not have a specific update on either during the post-game media availability, but is hoping that both won’t be as lengthy as perceived.
Without Hamonic or Ekman-Larsson, Boudreau might need to get quite creative with his pairings to ensure his team can remain successful at both even strength and on the penalty kill.