Bruce! (Here He Is)
1:26 PM EST on December 9, 2021
What a week it's been to be a Vancouver Canucks sicko! After providing their fans with nothing but disappointment and misfortune since a promising bubble run in 2020, the past two games since the franchise gave the coaching staff and front office a makeover have provided the best Canucks moments in quite a long time. Even if they still have quite a way to go to even dream of this year as anything but a lost season, there's still joy to be found in how suddenly the mood around this club has shifted toward optimism. And it's all summed up by one chant.
Yes, that is a play on the 1993 Tag Team hit "Whoomp! (There It Is)," with the name Bruce substituted for Whoomp. That's in honor of the Canucks' brand-new coach, Bruce Boudreau, who took over for the embattled Travis Green and has since led the formerly last-place Canucks to two straight wins. Now they're just second-to-last!
On Monday, riding an apparent jolt of energy from the new guy on the bench, the Canucks enjoyed a Thatcher Demko shutout and scored four on the L.A. Kings to turn the night into a massive party. And then on Wednesday, they matched the Boston Bruins step for step and took the victory in a shootout, with Bo Horvat—the team captain whose name was starting to pop up in trade talks—dealing the final blow.
It's been love at first sight for Canucks fans and Boudreau, who has a reputation for kickstarting underachieving talents; he took over a 6–14–1 Capitals team and steered them to the top of the standings in his first NHL job. Some of the Canucks' underlying numbers were actually quite good, particularly the way their top offensive guys generate chances, but there was also a fogginess in execution, a propensity for confusing mistakes that somebody needed to step in and erase.
Based on this extremely small sample size, Boudreau was indeed the perfect guy for this job. His aggressive, straightforward tactics cut down on the opportunity for blunders. He has a reputed gift for motivating his guys to give 100 percent all through the exhausting grind of the regular season, and the affection and respect the Canucks have for him is already evident, with multiple stars apparently asking him if they can help out on the penalty kill. His response to the viral chant on his first night out showed off some of the offbeat charisma that's charmed so many in the sport.
It's long been known that winning cures everything, but it's still astonishing just how quickly all the vibes have changed around Vancouver. Just a few days ago, this was a team in a rut, with a flawed roster and exasperated fans and obvious friction in the locker room. Two wins still doesn't change most of the facts about the Canucks' weaknesses or season outlook, but take a look at how happy these guys—especially Conor Garland—were to get one over on Boston last night.
This may not be a playoff team, but, for the first time all year, it does at least feel like the Canucks are a team. Perhaps even one that hasn't completely forgotten how to have fun.
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