Bruce Boudreau needed a little help behind the Vancouver Canucks’ bench Monday night.
He’d been installed as the team’s head coach less than 24 hours before as part of sweeping changes throughout the organization. The move barely gave him enough time to learn his players’ names before the puck dropped in a tilt with the L.A. Kings.
“I’ll get to know the players more, but it’s four new lines thrown at you, sometimes it’s a bit of a whirlwind,” Boudreau said after the Canucks blanked the Kings 4-0. “But it was fun. I had a lot of people on the bench to help me.”
The newly minted coach had a meeting and a half-hour-long morning skate with his players before the game and left them with a simple message.
“I just keep telling them that they’re good players,” he said. “I’ve always thought they were good players. They’ve got to start believing that they’re good players. And when they do that, they’ll be fine.”
WATCH | Canucks blank Kings in 1st game under Boudreau:
Monday’s victory came after Vancouver cleaned house on Sunday, firing general manager Jim Benning, assistant manager Jim Weisbrod, head coach Travis Green and assistant coach Nolan Baumgartner.
Boudreau, a Toronto native who previously served as head coach for the Capitals, Ducks and Wild, was hired as the new head coach through the 2022-23 season, while former senior advisor Stan Smyl was named interim manager.
It’s been a difficult season for the Canucks (9-15-2), who came into Monday’s game having lost 10 of their last 13 outings.
Things began to click on Monday, though, with Thatcher Demko making 30 saves for his first shutout of the season.
Brock Boeser and J.T. Miller each had a power-play goal and an assist for Vancouver, while Conor Garland and Juho Lammikko also found the back of the net.
“I thought they played really hard and that’s what I asked them to do, what all the coaches asked them to do,” Boudreau said. “We made a lot of mistakes that are correctable mistakes. But when you win and you can get away with those correctable mistakes, I think it’s a great teaching tool for (Tuesday’s) practice.”
Cal Petersen stopped 27-of-31 for the Kings (10-10-4), who beat the Oilers 5-1 in Edmonton on Sunday.
L.A. defenceman Alex Edler faced the Canucks for the first time in his career. The 35-year-old played 15 seasons in Vancouver before signing with L.A. as a free agent in July.
The club recognized Edler with a video tribute during early in the first period, and the veteran blue liner hopped over the boards to wave to the cheering crowd.
WATCH | CBC Sports’ Rob Pizzo looks at 9 strange NHL moments:
Edler said his former team got a boost from their new bench boss.
“I think they came out hot and we were expecting that, we talked about that,” he said. “With a new coach, you want to make a good first impression, so they came out hard, they played hard and didn’t really give us a lot of room and we were just a step behind today.”
Special teams have been a struggle for the Canucks this season, but Vancouver went 2 for 4 on the power play Monday and successfully weathered two penalties.
L.A.’s Lias Anderson was called for high-sticking on Oliver Ekman-Larsson midway through the third and Miller capitalized on the man advantage. His blast from inside the faceoff circle careened into the net off the crossbar at the 12:48 mark to put Vancouver up 4-0.
Lahmmikko gave the Canucks their third goal of the night 6:59 into the period, picking off an errant Kings pass and putting a shot past Petersen stick side for his first goal in a Vancouver jersey. The 25-year-old left-winger was a healthy scratch in the previous five games.
Vancouver nearly saw its lead boosted in the second period after Elias Pettersson was hooked from behind by Alex Iafallo on a short-handed chance. The star centre was awarded a penalty shot, but sent his ensuing blast into the glass behind the L. A. goal.
The Canucks went up a pair 5:43 into the middle frame.
Rookie Vasily Podkolzin put a shot wide with the puck ricocheting off the end boards. Garland picked up the rebound behind the net and wrapped it into yawning net before Petersen could get back in position.
A power-play goal opened the scoring early in the second after L.A.’s Mikey Anderson was called for tripping Bo Horvat.
Stationed at the goal line, Tanner Pearson sliced a pass to Boeser at the top of the faceoff circle. The right-winger uncorked a snap shot and the puck deflected in off the skate of Kings defenceman Drew Doughty in front of the net.
The goal was Boeser’s fifth of the season and his first in 14 games.
“It’s funny how the games worked over this drought where I haven’t scored goals, I felt I got some pretty good chances, hit posts, crossbars and then that’s the one that goes in,” Boeser said. “It’s crazy how this game works, but at the end of the day it went in the night and I’ll take it. I just got to continue to build and keep shooting the puck.”
The Canucks will be back in action Wednesday when they host the Boston Bruins. The Kings will entertain the Dallas Stars in L.A. on Thursday.
Bombers extend Most Outstanding Defensive Player Bighill – TSN
Adam Bighill is staying in Winnipeg.
The Blue Bombers announced Thursday the reigning CFL Most Outstanding Defensive Player has signed a one-year contract extension with the team.
Bighill has spent the past three seasons with the Blue Bombers, helping the team back-to-back Grey Cups.
A veteran of nine CFL seasons, Bighill has played in 146 games in his CFL career and ranks eighth in league history all-time in total tackles.
The three-time CFL Most Outstanding Defensive Player had 70 tackles and added two quarterback sacks, two interceptions and two fumble recoveries last season. He was named a CFL All-Star for the sixth time in his career.
Denis Shapovalov Australian Open third round Reilly Opelka – TSN
Denis Shapovalov needed three hours and 23 minutes to take down Serbia’s Laslo Djere in the first round of the Australian Open on Monday, working through a handful of unforced errors and a fourth-set tiebreak.
It was a cakewalk compared to his second-round matchup.
The Richmond Hill, Ont., native went the distance with Kwon Soon-woo, needing five sets and nearly four and a half hours to dispatch of the 54th-ranked South Korean. Shapovalov lost back-to-back tiebreaks in the second and third sets but battled back to take the final two and avoid an early exit.
Watch his third-round matchup LIVE on TSN4, TSN.ca, the TSN App and TSN Direct at approximately 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT Thursday night.
“It was tough to bounce back every time. In the second set I had a set point on his serve and then the third set I had a couple of set points. I felt I was doing everything the right way, it just wasn’t going my way,” Shapovalov told TSN’s Mark Roe after the win.
“It’s definitely not easy but it’s the case sometimes. I’m just happy to be alive and have an opportunity to play in the third round. I’m pretty young so I’m sure I’ll be alright; I’ve had this before.”
Now it’s on to the third round for Shapovalov where he gets his toughest test of the tournament yet in No. 23 seed American Reilly Opelka.
Opelka has had a much easier road to Round 3, scoring straight-sets victories over Kevin Anderson in the first round and Dominik Koepfer in the second. Standing at 6-foot-11, the big-serving American isn’t much for rallies, combining for 41 aces in his first two matches in Melbourne.
“I think it’s more about recovery to be honest. I mean, Reilly’s game is pretty straightforward. He goes for his serves, he’s going for his ground strokes off the back as well so it’s going to be kind of like a guessing game a little bit on the returns and hopefully, I can take care of business on my serve and hopefully I’m getting good looks, but I’ve just got to stay patient against him,” Shapovalov said.
The 22-year-old comes into the year’s first Grand Slam with some momentum having won the men’s ATP Cup earlier this month in Sydney alongside Canadian teammates Felix Auger-Aliassime, Brayden Schnur and Steven Diez.
Fatigue from a recent bout of COVID-19 forced Shapovalov to sit out the start of the tournament but he said earlier this week he was back to feeling 100 per cent.
“Towards the end of the [ATP Cup] I got really comfortable, and the body felt good again, so that was a good sign. And, of course, leading up to this tournament I had little aches and pains, so I wasn’t practising too much but I’m really happy after the two matches that the body is feeling good and it’s definitely a good sign.”
Sheldon Keefe calls Leafs 'soft and purposeless' after Rangers collapse – Yahoo Canada Sports
Tell me if you’ve heard this before: The Toronto Maple Leafs have a multi-goal lead but their opponents come back to win the game.
Wednesday’s tilt against the New York Rangers played out exactly like that, with the Leafs having a 3-1 lead at the first intermission, and the hometown Rags storming back to earn a 6-3 victory with five consecutive goals.
Toronto head coach Sheldon Keefe called out his team’s effort during his post-game availability, specifically citing the defensive side of their performance.
“Today, I just thought we played soft, and we made poor decisions defensively,” Keefe said.
“We couldn’t sort anything out. It was just far different. Each game has been different, so it’s hard to talk about patterns other than the obvious that we’ve been giving up leads. I just thought we got exposed today for being a team that was just soft, soft and purposeless, and just kind of playing the game and hoping it was going to work out.
“I didn’t think we had anybody that played well tonight. Coaches didn’t coach well tonight. So, today is a much different game than we’ve played in the others where we’ve given up leads and such. I just didn’t think we had nearly enough urgency or purpose.”
The Leafs were without two of their top four defenseman in Jake Muzzin (concussion) and Justin Holl (COVID protocol) in New York, but missing personnel is something that can be overcome. Keefe pondered if it was a larger-scale issue that keeps putting the Leafs in this position.
“We’ve had a lot of really good starts,” Keefe said. “Obviously it’s been the finish or the second half of games that haven’t gone well. …Maybe a fast start was working against us. We thought it would be easy the rest of the way. We paid for it.”
Toronto let three third-period leads get washed away by their opponents in the previous four games before Wednesday, making it more of a concerning trend than coincidental bad luck.
The Leafs will take another stab at trying to hold a multi-goal lead when they visit Islanders on Saturday.
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