Thatcher Demko made 51 saves as the Maple Leafs outshot the Canucks 53 to 24 (41 to 13 in the final two periods). Sportsnet reported that Demko became just the second Vancouver goalie in 37 years to make at least 50 saves in an NHL game.
Bruce Boudreau introduces “wrestling belt” as a new custom after victories
By Brandon Yip, Senior Columnist
The Vancouver Canucks are now into the last half of the season. At the time of writing, the Canucks’ record is 22-21-6. They are sixth in the Pacific Division with 50 points and five points out of a Wild Card playoff spot.
The Canucks defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs on February 12, winning by a score of three to two. The game started at 4 pm at Rogers Arena. The early start is once again accommodating the Eastern audience in Toronto, who cannot stay awake past 10 pm Eastern time—when the Canucks play a regular evening home game. Nonetheless, the earlier start occurred on a beautiful sunny day in Vancouver. And another bonus was that it was a very entertaining hockey game.
The Canucks were ahead 2-0 early in the first period on goals by JT Miller at 1:29 and Brock Boeser on the powerplay at 6:00. However, the lead would not be safe for Vancouver as the Maple Leafs and their special teams started their comeback in the second period. Auston Matthews scored a powerplay goal, taking a pass from John Tavares at 12:46 to make it 2-1. Then the Leafs tied the game on another powerplay goal by Ondřej Kaše at 15:41—deflecting a slap pass from Jason Spezza. But late in the period, a Toronto turnover in the neutral zone led to Vancouver forward, Alex Chiasson, shooting the puck at the lower pads of Toronto goalie, Petr Mrazek. The shot left a rebound for Juho Lammikko to score at 18:30, putting the Canucks ahead 3-2. No goals in the third period, as Vancouver held on for the victory.
Thatcher Demko made 51 saves as the Maple Leafs outshot the Canucks 53 to 24 (41 to 13 in the final two periods). Sportsnet reported that Demko became just the second Vancouver goalie in 37 years to make at least 50 saves in an NHL game. Canucks coach, Bruce Boudreau, said after the game he knows his team was outshot badly. But they got the win and two points. “I’ve been on teams that heavily outshot teams and we lost, and nobody felt sorry for us,” he said. “I don’t care if we got outshot, I don’t care if we got outplayed, we ended up winning the game and that’s the bottom line. It would take a fool to think that we don’t know that the goalie was amazing. But he’s our goalie and we get to have him every night. We get an amazing goalie every single night, so that’s great for us.”
Boudreau was not going to criticize his team for allowing 53 shots against the high-powered offence of the Leafs with stars Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, William Nylander and John Tavares. The very personable and likeable coach sensed some skepticism from Vancouver reporters during his post-game press conference and felt the need to respond accordingly: “I’m not going to go home and cry. You guys want me to say: ‘Hey, we got outplayed. Woe is us.’ We won the hockey game. C’mon, guys, give the team some credit for hanging in there.”
As well, Boudreau introduced a championship wrestling belt as a new team-bonding custom for the players. The belt, with the Canucks logo engraved, will be awarded to the player of the game after each victory. Boudreau, who is a wrestling fan, clarified the belt would go to the player who makes an impact (not just relegated to scoring the most points). “One of the things I’ve thought for a long time is that we…didn’t have anything to bring us together after a big win,” he said as reported by Daily Hive. “[So], I went out online got something that I’d like to start. Whoever gets it, has [got to] say a little something, and then he’ll hang it in his stall until we win the next game.” Boudreau awarded the first recipient of the belt to Juho Lammikko, who scored the game-winning goal.
Sigmund Freud, the founder of psychoanalysis, once famously said, “Sometimes, a cigar is just a cigar.” And it appeared Bruce Boudreau, despite getting a win against Toronto, was going through a session of “psychoanalysis” with the assembled media—who focused more on why his team gave up 53 shots against Toronto. In Boudreau’s case, sometimes, a win is just a win.
Jim Rutherford’s assessment of Canucks
On February 17, Vancouver Canucks President of Hockey Operations, Jim Rutherford, appeared on the Halford and Brough in the Morning program on Sportsnet 650. Rutherford offered his assessment of the Canucks. He believes they have a franchise goalie in Thatcher Demko yet Rutherford feels the team is lacking speed. “Well, [there are] different ways to win,” he said. “Teams have won the Stanley Cup with skill and speed. Some teams [who] have won [were] heavier teams [….] We would certainly like to see a team here…[that is] quicker and faster. Those are the teams that I [have had] over the years. You [cannot] do that overnight, it takes time. It may take longer than [we would] like. But ideally, the identity of the team here is a team that plays quick with a lot of puck pressure—a lot of pucks going to the net. Skill and speed [are] what I like. And when [I am] not watching the team that I am with (Canucks), it is what I like to watch when [I am] watching other NHL games.”
In addition, Rutherford stated that he wants more balanced scoring on all four lines. “Well, [we have won] a number of games because we have a franchise goalie,” he said. “Our goalie makes up for a lot of our shortcomings in a lot of games. Right now, I would say that we have an average skating team that relies heavily on a handful of players to create the offence for us.”
Canucks’ schedule this week
Thursday, February 24 vs. Calgary Flames (7 pm)
Sunday, February 27 @ New York Rangers (4:30 pm)
Monday, February 28 @ New Jersey Devils (4:30 pm)