There’s a reason why the term “breath of fresh air” has been bandied about more than Mariah Carey on the radio this week in Vancouver.
Bruce Boudreau is not only engaging and authentic in his musings with the media, but he’s also leading his team to results on the ice.
The Vancouver Canucks are now 3-0 under their new head coach, a pretty impressive feat considering that both Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Travis Hamonic have been missing from the lineup.
It’s clear that Bruce Boudreau has given the Canucks a new lease on life. However, these four players, in particular, have really benefitted from the “Bruce bump.”
1. Brock Boeser
The Burnsville, Minnesota native will go down as the first-ever Canuck to receive the “Bruce bump.”
Boudreau spending a little 1-on-1 time with Brock Boeser pic.twitter.com/4I5i978par
— Harman Dayal (@harmandayal2) December 6, 2021
Boudreau said that during his conversation with Boeser at practice, he told the 24-year-old about the time he scored twice against the Minnesota Wild in his NHL debut. He also told Boeser to shoot the puck more.
Well, looks like Boeser was listening.
In three games since Boudreau took over, Boeser has two goals and is second on the Canucks with 10 shots on goal.
2. Vasily Podkolzin
The rookie treatment for Vasily Podkolzin is officially over.
Ever since Boudreau’s arrival, the 20-year-old has played left wing a line with both Elias Pettersson and Conor Garland.
While the trio is technically the “third line” in terms of even strength ice time, they’ve been the most dangerous offensively. Currently in the Boudreau era, the Canucks three leaders in terms of expected goals for are Pettersson (63.3%), Garland (63.1%), and Podkolzin (60.9%).
You’d expect Pettersson and Garland to be consistent offensive threats, but Podkolzin is helping his linemates cycle the puck and get opportunities on net.
Aside from his even strength usage, he’s also joined his linemates on the second power play unit, and he’s one of the eight forwards that Boudreau is using on the penalty kill.
Because of his use in all situations, Podkolzin’s ice time has jumped from 11:46 per game under Travis Green to 15:20 under Boudreau.
3. Jason Dickinson
There haven’t been a lot of statistical changes in Dickinson’s game, but the 26-year-old does look rejuvenated under Boudreau.
easily Jason Dickinson's most noticeable game with #Canucks. Season-high 17:04. Second among forwards with 1:42 of PK time. Two shots on seven attempts. Five hits. 2 takeaways and a pair of blocks. Underlying numbers weren't great, but was out against B's top line
— Jeff Paterson (@patersonjeff) December 9, 2021
Part of the reason why he’s been more noticeable? He’s spending less time on the bench.
Dickinson’s ice time has jumped from 12:38 per game under Green to 16:16 under Boudreau.
The main reason behind his increase in usage is because Boudreau has stapled him to Bo Horvat’s wing in the team’s past two games.
In those contests, Dickinson has played more than 17 minutes a night.
If the Georgetown, Ontario native is going to stick around in the top-six, he’ll likely have to produce offence at a higher clip. He currently has one goal and three points in 26 games.
4. Luke Schenn
During Boudreau’s post-game press conference on Friday, he applauded the Canucks thinned out blue line.
“Some of these guys are playing more minutes than they’ve ever played before,” Boudreau told the media.
Luke Schenn has played big minutes before, but it’s been a long time.
The 32-year-old has averaged 19:10 per night in three games under Boudreau thus far. The last time his average ice time was up at that level was in 2012-13, when he was 23 in his first season with the Philadelphia Flyers.
Luke Schenn Appreciation Tweet pic.twitter.com/Vf150g2dKl
— Mr Booth (@MrBooth07) December 9, 2021
Schenn’s inflated ice time is largely due to the absences of Ekman-Larsson and Hamonic. However, there is something noteworthy about his usage.
Under Boudreau, Schenn has now surpassed both Kyle Burroughs and Tucker Poolman on the right side of the Canucks defence. Surpassing Poolman, in particular, is noteworthy since the 28-year-old was averaging nearly three minutes more per night under Travis Green.
Schenn has established himself as the best option to play alongside Hughes. Even though that’s a low bar, it’s one that Poolman was unable to reach despite a bigger opportunity with Green.