Since Bruce Boudreau took over as head coach of the Vancouver Canucks in early December, the team has managed to turn their season around.

After starting the year 8-15-2, the Canucks have put together a string of wins, going 8-0-1 since the coaching change. Vancouver’s special teams have notably been much better, scoring on seven of their last 21 power play opportunities (operating at 33.3 per cent), while killing off 17 of their last 19 penalties (89.5 per cent). It’s a huge change from their disastrous special teams efforts before the coaching change. Their power play was operating at just 17.4 per cent, while their penalty kill had been the worst in the league, allowing a ridiculous 29 goals on 82 times shorthanded, operating at just 64.6 per cent.

While Boudreau has undoubtedly had a positive effect on the Canucks, there are several players who have stepped up their games.

J.T. Miller, who’s been the team’s top producing forward by a wide margin this season, has still managed to elevate his game. He’s scored three goals and 13 points over the nine-game stretch, while registering at least one point in every single game.

Another forward who deserves recognition is Brock Boeser. While Boeser has missed the last team’s three games while in COVID protocol, he’s seemingly beginning to rebound from a poor start. While he’s managed just nine goals and 17 points in 28 games this season, over the six games he’s played under Boudreau, Boeser has scored an impressive five goals and seven points.

On defense, Quinn Hughes has played a key role in the hot streak as well. He’s been taking on a huge role for the Canucks, averaging nearly 26 minutes per game over the stretch, while adding eight assists.

You could also look to Tyler Myers, who’s been averaging nearly 25 minutes per game as well, adding four assists in the nine games. While plus-minus may be a flawed stat, his plus-10 under Boudreau is extremely impressive and is by far the best on the team since the coaching change.

Credit is also due to the likes of Bo Horvat and Tanner Pearson, who are producing well and lead the team in shots over the stretch.

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While many players on the team have stepped up though, the likes of Miller and Hughes were already producing quite well overall before the team got hot. Additionally, several players on the team, like Elias Pettersson, continue to put up fairly underwhelming results. The major improvement in the team’s goaltending is what’s making the biggest difference for the Canucks and as a result, the most valuable player during their turnaround has been Thatcher Demko.

Demko was fully expected to take the reins as the team’s go-to guy this year, after posting a .915 save percentage last season while taking the majority of the workload, and signing a five-year contract extension, which carries a $5 million cap hit. Like the rest of his team, however, Demko didn’t start as strong as expected, posting a .908 save percentage through the first 20 games of the season, up until the Vancouver’s recent run.

Since the first game of the Canucks’ point streak though, Demko has been nothing short of excellent. He’s started seven of the nine games, winning all of them and posting an outstanding .955 save percentage. Over the stretch of games, he’s allowed two goals or less and posted at least a .938 save percentage in six of the seven outings.

In all fairness, the fact Demko has an expected goals against of 18 over the seven games, according to, says a lot about the team defensively. They’re certainly limiting chances and an average of about 2.6 goals against per game would be very respectable as is.

However, then factor in that Demko has only allowed 10 goals in that time. He’s allowed eight goals less than expected, stopping over one goal per game more than expected on average, and his outstanding 1.40 goals against average is a huge feat. Considering the Canucks have won four of Demko’s seven games in the stretch by a single goal, it’s easy to see how important those numbers have been for Vancouver.

Remember as well, Demko actually still has pretty minimal NHL experience. He’s played just 99 career NHL games, having never played in more than 35 games in a single season. That said, we also know what he’s capable of (and it doesn’t hurt that Jaroslav Halak is a very capable backup goalie as a safety net).

While Demko is far from the only player contributing to the Canucks’ recent run, without him, they wouldn’t have been able to string together a series of wins like they have. There’s a lot of time left in the season with the possibility that Vancouver could still make a push to get back into the playoff race and as they attempt to climb up the standings, we can expect Demko to continue playing a key role.