Boudreau supported as coach by Canucks GM after 0-5-2 start
VANCOUVER — Bruce Boudreau has the support of Vancouver Canucks general manager Patrik Allvin despite an 0-5-2 start to the season under the second-year coach.
Allvin met the media Wednesday to discuss the Canucks being the only winless team in the NHL and what it’s going to take to turn things around.
The slow start, during which Vancouver became the first team in NHL history to give up multiple goal leads in its first four games, has led to speculation Boudreau, who replaced Travis Green as coach Dec. 5, could be fired.
The Canucks have been outscored 15-2 in the third period this season.
However, Allvin said he supports Boudreau and the coaching staff.
“Yeah, the coaching staff from Day One, we have good communication and we’re working together and we’re going to find a way out of this,” Allvin said. “I’m the general manager, so I’m as responsible as the coaches and the players and we’re all working together. I see the hard work the coaching staff is putting in every day and my job is to always look at options to get better and support them.”
Allvin also gave a vote of confidence to the Canucks’ top young players.
“I definitely have faith in this young core,” he said. “We have a lot of young and good players here. I believe we’re the sixth youngest team in the League on the opening-night roster, so I definitely think this young group has still a lot of things to learn and part of it is facing diversity here and how they come out of it.”
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As for a rash of injuries that include top defenseman Quinn Hughes (lower body) missing the past two games and has already seen 10 defensemen enter the lineup, Allvin wasn’t willing to use it as an excuse. He instead pointed to his top forwards needing to do a better job supporting a depleted defense.
“I think the players coming up have shown they’re capable,” he said. “I don’t think that’s been an issue. We need to have our top players to buy in and be the top players every single day you walk in here to the rink, and I think that’s the difference right now.”
Centers Bo Horvat (four goals), J.T. Miller (four) and Elias Pettersson (three) have combined for 11 of Vancouver’s 18 goals this season; no other player has more than two.
The Canucks rank 28th in the NHL in goals for per game (2.57) and 28th in goals against per game (4.29). They have allowed at least four goals in five of their seven games.
Vancouver had mixed news on the injury front Wednesday.
Hughes skated, according to Boudreau, and top-line forward Brock Boeser was expected to skate Thursday after missing a 3-2 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes on Monday with an undisclosed injury.
“I’m pretty sure next week Hughes will be playing,” Boudreau said. “He was on the ice this morning and feeling a lot better. It’s not long-term injuries with these guys.”
Center Curtis Lazar, however, will miss 3-4 weeks with an undisclosed injury he had been playing through. Vancouver called up forwards Sheldon Dries and William Lockwood from Abbotsford of the American Hockey League ahead of back-to-back games at the Seattle Kraken on Thursday and at home against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday.
The Canucks started slow last season too; they were 8-15-2 before firing coach Green and general manager Jim Benning on Dec. 5. They finished on a 32-15-10 run under Boudreau that raised expectations despite still missing the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the sixth time in seven seasons. But Allvin, who was hired Jan. 26, expressed concerns after the season about a lack of defensive structure, poor 5-on-5 play and overreliance on goalie Thatcher Demko.
Despite backing Boudreau, he repeated those concerns Wednesday.
“I think teams started to take us light,” Allvin said of the late-season surge. “It was something we wanted to address going into the season and part of it was finding more structure and accountability in systems play. We’re a talented team, but we need to get this team and this group to play together as a group and a team.”