I don’t think anyone truly believes that this Canucks team was as bad as they were under Travis Green in his final year as head coach, but clearly, something had to be done. If you ask me, Green is a respectable coach who proved capable of guiding the Canucks to the 2020 NHL playoffs. But since then, the Canucks have been pegged as a bad defensive team (for good reason), leading Jim Benning and Green to put too much attention towards becoming better defensively.
Heading into this season with a mind towards stronger defence and a specific mould, Green lost sight of his team’s strengths, and when addressing his team’s weaknesses on the back end, he sacrificed the one thing that made this team successful – run and gun offence.
Now that the Canucks are playing to their strengths under Boudreau and getting results, Benning must be screaming from his couch, “I told you so!” because this team is clearly better than what they were previously showing on the ice. How much better? I don’t know the answer to that just yet, but a knock back down to reality shouldn’t be too far around the corner. Don’t get me wrong, a six-game winning streak is nice, but the injuries are piling up and the schedule isn’t getting any easier.
The Canucks are certainly riding a high under their new coach and management group, but what Benning laid down in front of them is starting to prove this team has what it takes. I just don’t think they have all the pieces to make a deep playoff run. As offensive as this team is, it lacks two key factors that most playoff teams possess: Toughness and defensive depth. I don’t think the Canucks have that, and if they need to make a move to better a position, they risk weakening another.
This might be the most difficult question to answer this week as almost all players have seen a rise in production under Boudreau. Quinn Hughes has returned to being in the Norris Trophy conversation, J.T. Miller is scoring above a point-per-game pace, Bo Horvat is a born-again leader, Tyler Myers is playing the best hockey of his Canucks career, Thatcher Demko has been a brick wall, and Brock Boeser is finding the back of the net at an elite level.
All of these players are playing their best hockey of the season, but if one player sticks out the most, it has to be Boeser. Not only is Boeser bulging twine on a nightly basis, but he’s completely refound his confidence. Boudreau’s shoot-first mentality style of play instantly clicked with the Canucks’ sharpshooter, but Boudreau and Boeser both believe there is still more to come.