Aiming at Playoffs Next Season
Is this a rebuild or not? That is the question every Canucks fan has asked themselves several times this season.
Jim Benning’s opinion on that was always clear, and finishing 28th in the league did not change that.
"Every year that we play, our goal is to make the playoffs. (…) We asked Willie (Desjardins) to work with our young players. I think over the course of the year we’ve seen our young players improve. (…) We’ve been asking a lot but we got to the point where we have an older group of players and it was time to start transitioning younger players into our group. I think the hard thing for us this year was the injuries to our experienced players where we had to elevate young players into roles that they maybe weren’t quite ready for."
That sums up exactly what Benning has been saying all season long. But, it is something many fans and writers do not quite agree with. Were the injuries really all that held the team back?
Fact is, the Canucks were second in the Pacific Division standings when captain and No. 1 centre Henrik Sedin suffered his first injury of the year. Until then, the young players looked good and the team looked good overall. It really did go straight downhill from there.
More and more players got injured and the Canucks slid all the way down to the bottom three of the league standings. Coincidence?
One big issue Vancouver has is the division they play in. Pacific Division teams finished the season with an average rank of 19, which is the lowest in the entire league. First are the Central teams with an average rank of 12.43, second is the Metro Division with an average rank of 12.75, and the Atlantic comes in third at 17.88.
Now, the Canucks play 29 games per year against their division rivals — the worst division in the NHL — and finished second-last in that division. They would almost certainly compete for last in any other division and have no chance at the playoffs.
Finishing the season 28th in the league as a Pacific Division club proves how bad the season really was. Playoffs next year? A dream rather than realistic projections.
Next: Takeaway #2