As most predicted at the start of the season, it has been a difficult year for the Vancouver Canucks. Currently well off the pace in the Pacific Division, the Canucks are on the verge of elimination from the playoff hunt – although that has been obvious for some time.
Vancouver should begin to look ahead at the 2018/19 campaign; preparation ahead of any season is crucial. This will mark the third year in a row with no postseason appearance for the Canadian franchise and that cannot continue any longer. Building a platform for future success should now be their number one objective.
The Boston Bruins are the National Hockey League’s in-form side right now. With eight wins in their last 10 games, including seven road victories in a row, Boston have closed the gap to Tampa Bay Lightning at the top of the Atlantic Division. Another win here for a side who are 10/1 in the Stanley Cup outrights with 888Sport would certainly go down well with the passionate Bruins fan base.
On paper, this looks quite one-sided but don’t write Vancouver off just yet. Check out our thoughts ahead of this weekend’s clash at Rogers Arena.
Canucks Can Restore Some Pride
Now well out at 150/1 to win the Stanley Cup this year, Vancouver are in need of a minor miracle. With just 50 points from 58 regular season fixtures, the Canucks are 30 points off the pace in the battle for top spot in the Pacific – and they are 15 away from the Los Angeles Kings in fifth position.
Defensively, Travis Green’s side have struggled to inspire confidence this year. At the time of writing, only four teams have conceded more goals than the Canucks (188) and that is a key reason for their struggles. If you ignore their shutout win against the Dallas Stars, Vancouver have conceded 24 goals in their last six matches.
Scoring goals has also been an issue. With just 151 successful efforts, Green’s offensive stars are not fulfilling their potential. Only the Arizona Coyotes have scored fewer in the entire Western Conference. A leaky defense and a struggling offense is the perfect recipe for disaster.
KEY MAN: Brock Boeser. With 49 points in 54 appearances, Boeser leads the team in points scored and plenty of Canucks fans will be expecting a big performance this weekend. He has scored 27 goals so far this campaign – 18% of Vancouver’s total in 2017/18. If the Canucks are to stand any chance, Boeser will need to play well.
With three points in his last four outings, he is in decent form. He fired a blank in the defeat to San Jose Sharks earlier this week but Boeser could bounce back here.
Bruins Are On Fire Right Now
Boston will be rested up ahead of this clash and that will spark immediate concerns amongst Canucks supporters. The Bruins have played just once so far this week, beating the Calgary Flames on home ice. It would be foolish to back against the visitors in this contest, especially taking their road form into account.
No matter how you look at this clash, all signs point towards a Boston victory. Bruce Cassidy will have his side fired up and ready to go – and Vancouver could crumble if the Bruins bring their A-game. Momentum is key and Boston will be quietly confident as they look to extend their winning run this weekend.
KEY MAN: Brad Marchand. You could stake a claim for Marchand, Patrice Bergeron or David Pastrnak here but we’ll go with the former. Currently sitting atop the Boston points scoring charts with 54, Marchand has been a rock for the Bruins so far this season and you’d fancy him to influence the outcome of this contest.
Marchand has scored 21 goals whilst assisting 33; a good return in both categories. He will take some stopping on current form, the Bruins star has six points (1 goal, 5 assists) in his previous five NHL appearances and he could be Boston’s difference maker.
An obvious one. Vancouver will huff and puff but that won’t be enough against this Boston side. The Bruins are heading to the playoffs and Cassidy’s men will fancy their chances in the Stanley Cup race. This should be a case of business as usual for Boston – side with the form book in this one.
CANUCKS 1-4 BRUINS