HNIC Coast To Coast: Offseason For Some, War For Others

Head coach Rick Bowness of the Winnipeg Jets walks on the ice after his team lost the game and the series to the Colorado Avalanche in Game Five of the First Round of the 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Canada Life Centre on April 30, 2024, in Winnipeg, Canada.

Welcome to another weekend edition of HNIC Coast to Coast! Canadian NHL action is starting to wind down, with just a handful of guaranteed games to go, but with a great series of action comes a lot of news involving the other teams, particularly behind the bench. Let’s take a look at the landscape ahead of the weekend’s action.

Sunday HNIC Matchup: Vancouver Canucks @ Edmonton Oilers

This year’s all-Canadian series in the Stanley Cup Playoffs has not disappointed, bringing all sorts of excitement in both of its games. Those who followed along with yesterday’s betting preview will point out that the game went almost exactly as we drew it up – the early momentum going to momentum, a goal for Elias Pettersson, but ultimately, another Connor McDavid night. After being limited to zero shots on goal for the first time in his playoff career in Game 1, McDavid responded with a goal and three assists on Friday, setting up Edmonton’s first two goals, scoring their third, and factoring in on Evan Bouchard’s overtime winner. After rallying back from 4-1 on Friday, Vancouver gave up three one-goal leads last night.

The series moves back to Edmonton, and the Oilers have a distinct advantage from here. Already the betting favourites, stealing a game on the road tilts the ice even further for them. Check back on Sunday for a full preview of Game 3!

Bet on Canucks vs. Oilers (Full Series)

EDM -270
VAN +220

World Championships Get Underway

The 2024 IIHF World Championships got underway on Friday, which allows Canadian fans to cheer for both their home country and players from their NHL teams. Some notable performances to this point include a two-assist effort from Montreal Canadiens forward Juraj Slafkovsky in Slovakia’s 6-4 loss to Germany, two assists from Toronto Maple Leafs forward Pontus Holmberg in Sweden’s 5-2 win over the United States, and Team Canada taking it easy in a 4-2 win over Great Britain this morning. Canada announced late that Maple Leafs captain John Tavares would be coming over to captain them, though he missed today’s game. Connor Bedard led the way with a pair of goals in fifteen minutes of ice time.

Canada’s next game will come tomorrow against Denmark. Unsurprisingly, they are heavy favourites, coming in at -5000 to win on the moneyline. For closer odds, look to the puckline, which gives Canada a -3.5 goal buffer and currently places them at +100 on Sports Interaction.

For a fuller look at the World Championships landscape, check out our World Championships and Team Canada preview from this week!

Bet on Canada vs. Denmark, May 12th

DEN +3.5
CAN -3.5

Coaching Changes in Toronto, Ottawa, Winnipeg

How crazy of a month has it been for the NHL coaching carousel? Well, the Buffalo Sabres brought Lindy Ruff back into the fold on April 22nd, just under three weeks ago. He is now 26th on the most-tenured list of coaches in the league, with San Jose, Seattle, Winnipeg, New Jersey, Ottawa, and Toronto’s coaches all guaranteed to be behind him, and a decent possibility that Los Angeles joins this mix if they don’t decide to stick with Jim Hiller. Zooming further out, only four coaches in the league – Tampa’s Jon Cooper, Pittsburgh’s Mike Sullivan, Colorado’s Jared Bedar, and Carolina’s Rod Brindamour have been with their teams beyond 2022.

All of this goes to say that there are three teams with points of turnover in Canada right now. The Maple Leafs announced the firing of Sheldon Keefe earlier this week, deciding it was time to change up the voice in the room after another short spring. Toronto is hot on the pursuit of his replacement, and betting markets already exist for who they replace Keefe with, and where Keefe ends up. Craig Berube and Todd McLellan are currently considered the front runners for the job, while New Jersey are considered the front runners for Keefe.

Also on the list in pursuit of Keefe are the Winnipeg Jets, who now have their own opening and are looking at several different options. Rick Bowness, their head coach of the last several seasons decided to call it a career on May 6th. The 69-year-old had a pretty great year behind the bench of the 52-24-6 Jets but is opting to put family and health first, having required leaves of absence twice this year – once for his wife, and once for himself. Bowness was the last remaining bench boss to have been a head coach in the 1980s, getting his start with the original Jets in 1988/89, before taking on head roles in Boston, Ottawa, Long Island, Phoenix, Dallas, and Winnipeg 2.0. He also had assistant and associate stretches in Vancouver and Tampa Bay, and five years of Head Coaching experience in the AHL.

Lastly, the Ottawa Senators have announced that Travis Green will be their man at the helm for the foreseeable future, hiring the 53-year-old earlier this week. Green was the associate coach for the New Jersey Devils to start the year and became the interim head coach following the firing of the previously mentioned Lindy Ruff. Before the Devils, Green got his start in the Western Hockey League with the Portland Winterhawks, winning a championship in his first season as a head coach. He then oversaw the Utica Comets for four years before being called up by the Vancouver Canucks to oversee the big club for another four and a half, ultimately being let go in 2021/22. Green was a bit of a surprising choice from Ottawa, given that he isn’t as big of a brand name and after months of searching for a permanent replacement for DJ Smith, Senators fans expected a big splash. But the team seems confident in their new man all the same, and we’ll see where it goes for them.