You won’t find Bruce Boudreau’s extensive hockey Rolodex on his cellphone, in a folder or filing cabinet.
It’s located between his ears.
The Vancouver Canucks’ head coach is not only cut from an old-school cloth, he easily can cut to the chase and vividly recall losing and winning streaks, big comebacks and brutal collapses and those who made it all happen.
When the Canucks stumbled out of the gate to start this season, Boudreau cranked up his Way Back Machine.
He referenced his Anaheim Ducks, who started 1-7-2 in the 2015-16 season and would go on top the Pacific Division with 103 points. It came on the strength of stellar netminding from John Gibson, who finished second in goals-against average (2.07), plus Corey Perry’s 34 goals and Ryan Getzlaf’s 50 assists.
However, the Ducks were dispatched in the opening round of the Stanley Cup playoffs by the wild-card Nashville Predators in seven games. The Ducks dropped three of four games on home ice, including Game 7, and it cost the coach his gig.
Boudreau is guiding another turnaround as the Canucks are finding their mojo, and the proof is not hard to find.
Vancouver Canucks vs. New Jersey Devils
7 p.m., Rogers Arena.
TV: SN 360. Radio: Sportsnet 650.
It’s about improving roster health and top players heeding a demand by general manager Patrik Allvin to be the best players every night and not just on some nights. It’s better structure and transition in unison and it’s also Boudreau. His calm at the helm is crucial.
Boudreau knows to be wary of a wounded beast in the Ducks. A 2-6-1 record without a road victory heading into a Tuesday test in San Jose, isn’t a true read on a club with emerging young talent. But his focus is singular on the Canucks to find consistency and make a playoff push credible and not laughable.
“I’ve been through this all before and the playoffs aren’t won in October,” said Boudreau. “I always look at things in a positive light or at least I try to. We’ve gone through the parenting where you’re tough on them and then build them back up.”
Here’s what awaits the Canucks in the next seven days:
Ducks at Canucks
When and where: Thursday at 7 p.m. | Rogers Arena.
TV: SN Pacific | Radio: Sportsnet 650.
Why watch: Last look at veteran wingers?
The Ducks are stuck in that perplexing place between rebuild and retool on the fly.
The latter isn’t working, and despite overtime wins over the Maple Leafs and Kraken, with a league-worst 2-6-1 mark heading into Tuesday’s tussle with the Sharks, doesn’t bode well for the coach or players.
Something has to give when you’re bleeding goals (third-worst 4.22 per game) and can’t score (second-worst 2.22). Whether it’s that tough transition for young players like Trevor Zegras, Troy Terry and Mason McTavish to lead, it could mean veteran wingers Jakob Silfverberg and Adam Henrique may agree to move elsewhere for better shots at winning.
Who to watch: Centre Trevor Zegras
With a flair for dramatic goals — lacrosse style while wheeling around the net or flipping a pass from behind the cage for a mid-air tap-in — he’s part of the new wave of players who have taken inventiveness to another level. Led the Ducks with six goals in their first nine games this season.
Predators at Canucks
When and where: Saturday at 7 p.m. | Rogers Arena.
TV: CBC, SN 360 | Radio: Sportsnet 650.
Why watch: No power in Preds’ power play
It’s still early, but when your power play operated at 24.4-per-cent efficiency last season to rank sixth overall and is 30th this season at a pitiful 8.3 per cent, it goes beyond a quirk. It’s the big question in a 3-5-1 start.
The Preds have had the sixth most chances through their first nine games and went 3-for-36. Hard to imagine that on a PP1 unit that includes Roman Josi, Filip Forsberg and Matt Duchene firing blanks.
Who to watch: Defenceman Roman Josi
Led all defenders last season with 96 points (23-73). His ability to drive the offence and also unleash a shot that carries accuracy and velocity is why he finished second to Cale Makar in Norris Trophy balloting. Has been held to just four points (1-3) through nine games despite 43 shots.
Canucks at Senators
When and where: Tuesday, Nov. 8 at 4 p.m. | Canadian Tire Centre
TV: SN Pacific, TSN5 | Radio: Sportsnet 650.
Why watch: Can the Sens be sensational?
The Senators nearly swept a five-game homestand last week for the first time in franchise history, but fell 4-2 to the Minnesota Wild last Thursday. In their ongoing transition to youth, the Senators are now playing to win in the third period instead of trying not to lose.
Ottawa was 4-4-0 heading into Tuesday’s test against Tampa Bay. And without centre Josh Norris, who had 35 goals last season and is out long term with a left shoulder injury suffered in a 6-2 win over the Arizona Coyotes on Oct. 22, remaining competitive won’t be easy.
Who to watch: Left-winger Brady Tkachuk
The immovable force had six goals and 30 shots in his first eight games, and the 6-foot-4, 221-pound beast is a load to deny in the offensive zone — especially when setting up shop in the crease. He’s coming off a 67-point season (30-37) and has found chemistry with linemates Tim Stutzle and Drake Batherson.
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