The Vancouver Canucks have history on their side.
The talk surrounding the Vancouver Canucks entering the All-Star Break has been one of pessimism. A losing streak, a disappointing series of play despite home-ice advantage, and, as a result, a slipping grip on the last Western Conference playoff spots.
There is still room for positivity, though.
The Canucks are expecting Henrik Sedin and Dan Hamhuis back — that is $11.5 million’s worth of instant boost to the lineup. The rest of the lineup is starting to heat up too, led by namely the kids. Sophomore Bo Horvat had seven goals and 12 points in the 12 games he played in January, after recording just 10 points in the first 38 games of the season.
More from The Canuck Way
- Which team won the Bo Horvat trade?
- What to expect from newcomers Anthony Beauvillier, Aatu Räty
- Back to the future: How the skate uniforms became a regular Canucks’ feature night
- Canucks kick off 2023 with disappointing 6-2 loss to Islanders
- 2nd period penalty trouble sinks Canucks in 4-2 loss against Winnipeg
There is more to it.
The Canucks had a 6-6-0 record during January of 2015. This year’s January looked much better. The Canucks went 6-4-2 this year, grabbing 14 of the 24 points available: that is a .583 points percentage. For reference, the Boston Bruins and the San Jose Sharks are having a .58 points percentage seasons.
Well, you may argue that January is over and that the remaining 32 games are the ones that really matter. And you will be correct. It’s not about the season behind the Canucks, it is about the season ahead that will decide the fate of Vancouver’s April.
But what Vancouver can do with the past is using it to gauge this year’s performance to last year’s. After all, it is the same city, the same coach, and nearly the same core.
History favours the Canucks
Last season, Vancouver’s February record was 8-6-0. In March when push became shove, they turned the heat up. In the 16 games during February, the Canucks went 10-4-2, the seventh-best record in the NHL that month. In the five games of April, the Canucks went 3-2-0.
Overall, the Canucks’ record from February onwards was a spectacular 21-12-2 in their last 35. That is 44 points out of the final 70 points available — a .629 points percentage for the Canucks. For a comparison, the Chicago Blackhawks, last year’s Stanley Cup Champions, had a .622 points percentage season last year.
I am not saying that the Canucks are going to win the Stanley Cup this year. But if those numbers don’t stir in you a degree of confidence with this year’s group, I don’t know what will.
Of course, last year’s version of the Canucks was quite different from the squad we have this year. Last year, eight players had 30+ points. Eight Canucks are projecting to hit 30+ points this year, too. Of those eight, three are new to the list.
The History of the Youth
“Playoff Hockey is what it’s all about. That’s what every fan gets excited for.” – Ben Hutton
Another thing about this year’s squad? They are young. They know how to win. They know playoff hockey. Ben Hutton knows that April is what really matters when a hockey season is in the books. “Playoff Hockey is what it’s all about. That’s what every fan gets excited for,” he told TSN 1040. Vancouver can attest to Hutton’s words. The first-round exit against the Calgary Flames is still embedded in my mind.
These kids are going to be less exhausted than the rest of the lineup come March and April. Jared McCann led the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds to the OHL Conference Finals, scoring 16 points in 14 playoff games. Jake Virtanen also led his Calgary Hitmen team to the WHL Conference Finals, recording 13 points in 14 playoff matches.
Speaking of youth, this is where Jacob Markstrom can also come in.
Recall from last year that goaltender Ryan Miller was thumped in February, put up a .894 save percentage and 3.23 goals against average, and was out until the last game of the regular season. Eddie Lack took over the starter’s role. A similar storyline played itself out this season, and Jacob Markstrom admirably took his opportunity to shine.
Markstrom’s latest track record come playoff time is nothing short of great. His most recent late-season heroics pushed the Utica Comets to the Calder Cup Finals. That tells that he is a gamer, a competitor, and a winner. This year’s Miller-Markstrom tandem should be a huge boost to the Canucks’ push for the playoffs. We all know how a veteran-rising star goaltending tandem can play out.
More from Canucks News
- Canucks are in “wash, rinse, repeat” mode after Monday’s 5-1 loss
- Canucks send Jack Rathbone and Vasily Podkolzin down to Abbotsford
- Canucks acquire Ethan Bear, Lane Pederson from Carolina
- Brock Boeser, Curtis Lazar placed on injury reserve
- Canucks officially unveil Reverse Retro jersey in latest aesthetic change
The team would have won more February games had Miller been up to his game. This year, that should be the case for Miller, and if it isn’t, it should be the case for Markstrom and the next saga of the goaltending controversy in Vancouver.
Let me just say this. This team is Markstrom’s in a year’s time. He should be patient knowing that and Miller should acknowledge that, too.
Looking at the month ahead and the schedule ahead, there is optimism to be found. Yes, the Canucks are in a difficult situation. Yes, they are 23rd overall in the league. But if Vancouver makes it a goal to push for the playoffs, the history suggests that it won’t be the first time the Canucks made a push late in the season.
Daniel Sedin, the Canuck All-Star, had 37 points in the last 37 games of last season. Henrik had 35 points in the last 37. After scoring 15 points in 45 games before the All-Stars, Alex Edler had 16 points in his last 29 games.
Henrik, Daniel, and Edler — these guys are big-time players. They are the core. They have shown that they can elevate their game for the last stretches of the season. They have history on their side.
The Canucks have history on their side. A Vancouver Canucks game in the middle of April? That might not be as far-fetched as you may think.
Is history really on the Canucks’ side? Or does history mean nothing when it is all said and done? Let us know in the comments below! You can also tweet us @FSTheCanuckWay and find us on Facebook!