The Vancouver Canucks are way ahead of everyone on the new year. Way ahead on the happy part, too.
The National Hockey League team changed calendars on Dec. 5 when coach Bruce Boudreau took over the struggling Canucks, who were 8-15-2 and nine points out of a playoff spot.
The team couldn’t possibly be as bad as it showed in the first quarter. But nobody in their right mind, including anyone inside the organization, envisioned the Canucks could be as good as they’ve looked since.
Saturday’s 5-2 road win against the Seattle Kraken lifted Vancouver’s record to 8-0-1 under Boudreau – 17 out of 18 points – and brought the Canucks within two points of the Western Conference’s final playoff spot, albeit with fewer games remaining than their rivals.
Their performance at Climate Pledge Arena, and especially a dominant first period in which the Canucks built a 2-0 lead and were never much threatened after that, was significant because it followed Vancouver’s poorest game under Boudreau: Thursday’s 2-1 shootout loss when the team needed backup goalie Jaroslav Halak to steal a point against the Los Angeles Kings.
Against the Kraken, the Canucks got goals from throughout their Covid-weakened lineup. Rookie Vasily Podkolzin and sophomore Nils Hogander scored in the opening period, and Tyler Motte and Conor Garland scored in the third before Tanner Pearson capped the win with an empty-netter.
“When you can get all four lines scoring, that’s music…