Boudreau disappointed with team’s inability to hold onto lead against Kraken

VANCOUVER – A lot went well for the Vancouver Canucks on Thursday. Except the biggest thing.

Good first game since last season for starting goaltender Thatcher Demko? Check. Throw the puck and score on the power play? Check. Getting National Hockey League goals from free agent Andrei Kuzmenko of the Continental Hockey League? Check. Positive start for the Quinn Hughes-Oliver Ekman-Larsson experiment on defense? Check.

Hold a two-goal lead in the third period against an inferior Seattle Kraken roster and start a winning streak?

Hey, how about Kuzmenko and that power play?

The Canucks fell to 0-2-1 in the preseason when they lost a 3-1 lead at Rogers Arena and lost 4-3 to the Kraken in overtime as Ryan Donato scored in a breakaway after a turnover from Tanner Pearson.

« It’s pretty disappointing, » Vancouver coach Bruce Boudreau said. “And that’s what we were talking about between periods: the winning teams protect the lead. And for the most part in the past, we were fine. But, I mean, tonight, obviously, we didn’t make it.

“I thought the power play moved him pretty well. We scored a few goals, but I mean, it takes more than the power play to win games. We scored five goals in three games. The five-on-five game needs to improve.

After being swept in two split-squad games against the Calgary Flames on Sunday, the Canucks have put together a much stronger roster than the one the Kraken brought north of Seattle. The Canucks outshot the Kraken 36-29 and missed the net or blocked shots 36 other times. But Vancouver only generated one even-strength goal: a Kuzmenko rocket launch on Hughes’ pass just 2:51 from the start of the game.

“My biggest thing is that it’s two home games against what I think are lower rosters. . . and we didn’t do the right thing to succeed,” Boudreau said.

The Canucks reach the middle of their preseason when they visit the Kraken on Saturday.


With Kuzmenko joining in a power play that was one of the NHL’s best in the second half of last season, the Canucks were 2-for-5 with the man advantage. Kuzmenko made it 2-0 with a tap-in at 9:56 of the first period after a terrific one-touch pass from Elias Pettersson and JT Miller.

Pearson’s power-play punch made it 3-1 at 16:55 after a quick fade from Kuzmenko, who looks like a natural as a player in front of goal for a unit that includes Hughes up front and , if he played, Bo Horvat in the bumper. Pearson replaced Horvat on Thursday.

« We could have had a few more in the third, » Hughes said. “I think this year might be the best year with our power play. I’ve been playing with these guys for four years now and they with me, and Kuzmenko looked great too. It’s exciting, that’s for sure.

Asked about what appears to be a world-class outing from Kuzmenko, Hughes said: “Top echelon. Like, really, really good. Great shot, good hands, hockey savvy – he pretty much has it all. And he also competes. I don’t know if you saw him, but he too was watching the goalkeeper. He’s not afraid of getting hit by a shot or getting gritty. Very impressive. »


Demko didn’t look like a keeper whose last save was on April 23. In his first preseason appearance, last season’s team MVP stopped 17 of 18 shots and, most importantly, seemed to move quickly and fluidly around his net.

Demko revealed at training camp in Whistler, B.C., that he underwent “operation” late last season for the undisclosed lower-body injury he suffered during a April 19 game against Ottawa. He said the recovery time has given him the opportunity to reflect on how he needs to be even better this season after a breakthrough campaign that saw him play 64 games and finish among the NHL leaders in several categories. statistics.

The Canucks want to manage Demko’s time this season – goaltending coach Ian Clark says the ideal number of starts is between 57 and 62 in 82 games – but the 26-year-old made it clear to Sportsnet that his injury last spring was an isolated event, not due to playing too much.

He looked close to mid-season form against the Kraken, making several saves easier than they were. In the second period, he effortlessly slid through his net to stop Morgan Geekie on a backdoor.

The only goal allowed by Demko was a power play by Kole Lind, who reached the puck past Danny Dekeyser when the defenseman neither picked up the puck nor the Seattle player.

Arturs Silovs, who had a great camp and is trying to push presumptive replacement Spencer Martin, played the final 24 minutes and allowed three goals on just 11 shots.


The more we look at Kyle Burroughs, the more he looks like an NHL defenseman the Canucks will need this season. The 27-year-old from Vancouver had been a career minor league player until he became a semi-regular for his hometown Canucks last season after passing a group of people on the depth chart during the pre-season.

He’s in another fierce competition this fall to secure a spot deep on the blue line, taking on veterans like Luke Schenn, Tucker Poolman and Dekeyser, and impressive rookie Jack Rathbone. But Burroughs looked like a player again on Thursday who understood what he needs to do to stay in the NHL: move the puck safely and make simple plays well, play physically without taking penalties, defend his teammates and be versatile. and ready for anything. game time becomes available. Guys have built long careers on less.

On the other hand, we are still waiting for Dekeyser to really join the competition. Admittedly, it’s easy to spot players’ flaws during a pro trial. If they didn’t, they wouldn’t be on a PTO. But thanks to training camp and two pre-season appearances, Dekeyser hasn’t done much to distinguish himself. He’s likely to get a few more at-bats in the Canucks’ preseason. But if the 32-year-old former Detroit Red Wing is to earn another NHL contract, he’ll need to show he can be a penalty-killing defensive tackle.


After moving to the right side to start training camp last week, Hughes made his offside debut opposite left-back Ekman-Larsson in what the team hope will become a super pair.

Hughes’ assessment: “Loved it. I mean, I thought we pretty much dominated first and second. I thought we were really, really good. We read to each other. I thought he had a lot of chances, I had a lot of chances. Then in the third, I don’t think we played as well – mainly me. But I think the overall package was really, really good together and I think over a long period of time we can really help each other. So there is definitely something positive in that.


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