Detroit Red Wings pile up goals in 5-2 win over Vancouver Canucks: Game thread recap

Detroit Red Wings (22-20-8) vs. Vancouver Canucks (21-27-4)

When: Noon Saturday.

Where: Little Caesars Arena in Detroit.

TV: Bally Sports Detroit.

Radio: WXYT-FM (97.1; other radio affiliates).


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Game notes: In case anyone doubts the work Wings GM Steve Yzerman is doing, there’s always the Canucks to show how NOT to run a rebuild. Former Red Wings goalie Jim Rutherford — already in the Hockey Hall of Fame for his work building the Carolina Hurricanes’ and Pittsburgh Penguins’ Stanley Cup winners a decade apart — joined the franchise as president and GM in December 2021, and it’s been rough ever since. The Canucks are in sixth place in the Pacific Division, albeit with a point total (46) that has them almost equidistant between the No. 1 spot in the draft lottery (Columbus, with 34 points) than a wild-card berth (Minnesota, with 58). That failure to launch, despite several big swings, has led to some big changes in the past six weeks.

Last month, there was the firing of well-liked and well-respected coach Bruce Boudreau — who was serenaded by Canucks fans with a chorus of “Bruce, there it is!” as his tenure neared its end — only to replace him with TNT studio analyst Rick Tocchet. (Though Tocchet was behind the bench as recently as the 2020-21 season.) Then, just before the All-Star break, Rutherford dealt captain Bo Horvat, a soon-to-be UFA who had yet to sign a contract extension, to the New York Islanders for a veteran (Anthony Beauvillier), a prospect (2021 second-rounder Aatu Raty) and a draft pick (a lottery-protected 2023 first-rounder) — not exactly a rebuild-catalyzing package.

Then again, the Canucks are a Canadian franchise, meaning the appetite for an extended rebuild is zip, zed and nil, and so, Canucks Nation’s eyes will be on Beauvillier, a 2015 first-rounder whose best season came in 2017-18 with 21 goals in 71 games. The 25-year-old was shut out in his first two games wearing blue and green (or black and yellow — you never know with the Canucks, who announced the return of their retro “Flying Skate” sweater one afternoon last month, then wore it in a game that night) but broke through with the winning goal against his former team in the Canucks’ 6-5 victory over the Islanders on Thursday night.

Beauvillier’s fellow point-getters in that game in New York are a big reason Canucks fans aren’t inclined to wait for glory. Elias Pettersson netted two goals and an assist, fresh off his third All-Star appearance, Brock Boeser — a North Dakota alumnus who just can’t stay healthy for a full season — had a goal and three assists and defenseman Quinn Hughes — a Michigan alumnus who appears on his way to setting a career high in goals and assists — picked up his 43rd and 44th assists this season, good for fifth in the NHL this season. There’s talent there in far Western Canada, is what we’re saying. (And maybe even in net, where Thatcher Demko has followed last year’s seventh-place finish in Vezina voting with an ugly 3.93 goals-against average this season.)

Red Wings left wing Adam Erne and Canucks defenseman Quinn Hughes battle for the puck during the second period on Saturday, Oct. 16, 2021, at Little Caesars Arena.
Red Wings left wing Adam Erne and Canucks defenseman Quinn Hughes battle for the puck during the second period on Saturday, Oct. 16, 2021, at Little Caesars Arena.

Whew! After all that, the struggles of Tyler Bertuzzi, Alex Nedeljkovic, Jakub Vrana and Filip Zadina — and the contract talks with Wings captain Dylan Larkin — seem almost quaint, don’t they? Bertuzzi scored his second goal of the season on Tuesday, and Zadina got his first on Thursday, so perhaps the Wings’ offense is finding some life in the second half. (Though, maybe not if Lucas Raymond misses any serious time.) And whatever color the Canucks are wearing — we're pretty sure it'll be white — expect Wings goalie Ville Husso to be zeroed in; he's 3-0 lifetime against Vancouver with a 1.67 GAA and a .950 save percentage.

Despite the early faceoff — 9 a.m. Vancouver time — Hughes probably won’t be able to hang around to watch his baby bro, Luke, and the Wolverines take on the Spartans in the night game at LCA. That’s because the Canucks and Wings have a second date scheduled right away, over in British Columbia, with a 10 p.m. — 7 p.m. Vancouver time — faceoff on Monday. That starts a four-game Western swing for the Wings that will feature late-night stops in Edmonton, Calgary and, finally, Seattle next Saturday. (Maybe the Wings can go to the same Starbucks the Tigers hit up on their trip to the Emerald City in October?) The Canucks, meanwhile, follow up their Monday game against the Wings with visits from the New York Rangers — a 1994 Stanley Cup reunion! — and the Philadelphia Flyers.

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This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Detroit Red Wings beat Vancouver Canucks, 5-2: Game thread recap