Vancouver – The Vancouver Canucks have never done what Stanley Cup is trying to do now. But they have coaches.
In the 2007-08 campaign, when Bruce Boudreau was a rookie coach promoted from mid-season in the American League when the Washington Capitals sacked Glenn Hanlon in November, his team won its last seven games and went 11-1 in the last 12. Carolina Hurricanes for the final play-off spot at the Eastern Conference.
Washington’s five wins were on the road, three were in overtime or shootout and two were against Carolina. If any of their victories had been a loss of control, the Capitals would have ended up behind the Hurricanes, who were then led by Jim Rutherford, now Boudreau’s boss in Vancouver.
For Boudreau, after fourteen years and nearly 1,000 NHL games, his Canucks will probably have to win at least 11 of their last 13 games to make the play-offs and return to the standings as Boudreau did with the Capitals.
“These things are happening,” Boudreau told reporters Thursday, the day after the Canucks lost their second consecutive game to the St. Louis Blues to further jeopardize their playoff hopes. “Columbus, when they beat Tampa (2019 playoffs), had to go to the last seven and they did. And then they beat Tampa four times. If there are no stories that it happened, it’s hard to believe. But I mean, when you have stories that aren’t too far away and didn’t happen too long ago, you say, ‘Hey, listen, those are believable things.’
The 2018-19 Blue Jackets pushed the Montreal Canadians out of the playoffs 7-1 in their last eight games. But they went on to sweep the 128-point Lightning, which has learned so much from that disaster that Tampa has not lost a play-off series since.
32-28-9 Canucks were five points behind the Vegas Golden Knights in the race to reach the final play-off spot in the Western Conference before Thursday’s game. The Knights traveled to Vancouver on Sunday before a rematch of the teams Wednesday in Las Vegas.
But with both the Knight and the Winnipeg Jet and the Dallas Star in between, the Canucks look beyond it.
“When people talk negatively about you and you read about it and you see it every day,” Boudreau said, “then, I mean, you have to be strong enough to believe in yourself and believe that positive things can happen. .
“No one stretches, unless they lie to me, thinking we’re finished. But, I mean, we have to run pretty well.”
Boudreau said he told players the story of his capitals on Thursday and reminded them of what the Blue Jackets did just three years ago.
Brad Richardson, 37, of Vancouver on March 21, has never seen more in the Canuck League.
The center of the fourth line is Canucks’ oldest player, who won a Stanley Cup with the Los Angeles Kings in 2012 and has logged 857 NHL games in 17 seasons.
He is new to the group, but the players are optimistic.
“Yes, 100 percent optimistic,” he said. “You have to be optimistic, and you know we have to win the next match and then we’ll see what happens from there.”
Richardson was claimed by the Canucks of the Calgary Flemish, which means he left a team capable of challenging for the Stanley Cup in June, hanging from the bottom edge of the playoff race with his nails.
But he welcomed the change. If that were the end of his career – and Richardson admitted it could be – he wanted to play in Vancouver instead of sitting as a deeper part in Calgary.
“I’m getting 37 and I’ve run well,” he said. “You kind of look at where your family is and where your body is and then re-evaluate. I have two daughters, six and 14 months, and you want to spend a lot of time with them.
“I loved the Calgary boys team; It was one of the funniest groups I’ve ever had. I could have stayed if I wanted to, but I’m happy to be here to play. It was an old team (in Calgary). I was playing with a lot of guys who won the cup, an old, experienced team. I think there is a big difference in that aspect of coming here, just experience. But the only way to achieve this is to work during this time and try to gain that experience. “
In this regard, Richardson said the Canucks desperate playoff drive is an invaluable learning opportunity for the young core of the team.
“When I look back, when I first went to LA, we weren’t a play-off team,” Richardson said. “We missed the playoffs, and then we got to the first round and lost. You have to go there, and then you have to learn how to take the next step. So it is a learning process. It’s a young team where there are great players. To get to that play-off spot you have to push and push – and push each other. Then get out of there. “
He said his vision for the Canucks from Calgary was that they had excellent young players at Thatcher Demco, lots of skill and elite goalkeepers.
“I saw it as a great team that didn’t hurt their chances,” he said.
Richardson added that the team is learning what it takes to win. Canucks has been 24-13-7 since replacing Travis Green in December.
“The biggest thing is every day, you want to play on what I call ‘The Line’,” he said. “It’s the same every day, win or lose. Being a professional and being a professional for a long time, this is what you will learn to do.
“If you haven’t been through that long season and that grind of the playoffs and know what it takes, yes, it’s hard. But the best thing you can do every day is to play your game. A few times in the last match we have moved away from it. You can beat any team in the league when you play on top of the people (on the defensive side of the puck) and you play properly. But, you know, you still have to learn how to play properly for the whole game. “
• Boudreau came to Canucks on a pro-rated two-year deal. Asked on Thursday if he wanted an extension this summer, the 67-year-old said: “I think I’ve done a good job. And that’s a tough question. I mean, I want to be a coach forever, and I really like Vancouver. I guess that’s the answer to that kind of question. “