Amidst a 3-9-1 slump that has seen them plummet down the standings to the bottom of the Pacific Division, the Vancouver Canucks are in need of sweeping changes.
They are expected to begin just before the Canucks play host to the Los Angeles Kings on Monday. According to several reports, the Canucks have fired general manager Jim Benning and coach Travis Green, among others. Bruce Boudreau, who has been head coach of the Washington Capitals, Anaheim Ducks and Minnesota Wild, is expected to take the head coaching duties with a deal that runs through the 2022-23 season.
Whether it’s enough to save the season for the struggling Canucks remains to be seen. Undoubtedly, the Canucks hit a new low in Saturday’s 4-1 home loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins. At time wound down, fans not only jeered the Canucks off the ice but chanted “Fire Benning.”
“Fans want wins, and we’re not giving it to them,” captain Bo Horvat said succinctly.
The Canucks have a litany of troubles, but the most glaring has been their horrific penalty kill. Their 64.6 percent penalty kill is the worst in league history through 25 games of a season, and they are the first team since the 2007-08 Atlanta Thrashers to allow two opposition power-play goals in 10 of their first 25 games of a season. The Penguins scored a pair of power-play goals to break open the game.
“At the end of the day, it’s cost us a lot of games and it’s been a difference in a lot of hockey games,” Horvat said. “And it was a difference again. … We were still right in it after it was 3-1 and we should have come harder out there in the third, but it’s tough when you run into penalty trouble like that. It is deflating when you’re playing catch up against a team like that.”
The Kings arrive in Vancouver having claimed a 5-1 road win over the Edmonton Oilers on Sunday that snapped a two-game losing streak.
Los Angeles is hanging in the playoff picture and is benefiting from all kinds of strong performances on a regular basis. In beating the Oilers, star defenseman Drew Doughty tied a season-high with three points, while forward Adrian Kempe tied a season-high with two goals to give him 10, forward Viktor Arvidsson is riding a five-game point streak.
The Kings, who have a 4-0-1 record when playing in Canada this season, did a masterful job in shutting down the high-octane Oilers and converting on the power play.
Los Angeles collected three man-advantage markers for the second time this season. Two of those goals came when Edmonton captain Connor McDavid was assessed a major penalty and game misconduct.
“It was three different groups, because we got the two, and then when we went to lines, away from units, and played two defensemen, they scored a goal, which was good to see, but in those situations, the other team is kind of done,” coach Todd McLellan said. “When the other’s team’s done, you need to hammer the nail in and at least our guys did that.”
Defensively, it was possibly the best defensive performance by the Kings, who held Edmonton to 22 shots.
“They got some chances late in the second and in the third, we basically didn’t give them much. When we did, (goalie Jonathan) Quick was amazing,” Doughty said. “He’s been great all year, he deserves a lot of credit for the wins we have this year. We played a good third period, probably the best that we have this year.”
–Field Level Media