Although I think it’s very likely the Canucks finish near the bottom of the league again, let’s try something different. Given an absolute perfect scenario, what would it take for the Canucks to play meaningful games in April?
Despite what logic would dictate, the Vancouver Canucks ownership believe this team is very close to the playoffs. I laugh hysterically at the thought, but let’s humour them for a change.
Of course, I don’t think the Canucks will make the playoffs, barring a miracle. Let’s say that miracle does happen. The team has been aiming for that final wild card spot in the West ever since they routinely fall to the bottom since the 2015-16 season.
In the NHL, things change. The league’s postseason format has seen it’s fair share of alterations and I wanted to use a multi-year sample to determine how many points will be needed to make the playoffs.
As the current format was implemented for the 2013-14, we will take the average number of points from the second wild card in the Western Conference. This gives us a five-year sample, which is good enough for me.
Making the cut
Using those five seasons, the average cutoff in points is 93.2 points. We’ll just round that down to 93. Some years have a stronger Western Conference like in 2014-15 when the final wild card had 99 points. But that strength ebbs and flows as the following year was rather weak with 87 points being enough for a playoff spot.
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You would also need around 40 wins, but keep in mind, shootout wins and other tiebreakers could be the end of you. It goes without saying that you need to rack up as many wins as possible in regulation or overtime.
For the Canucks, that would mean nine more wins and around 20 points to make that cut. Of course that’s easier said then done.
There’s an advanced statistic that I have mentioned, but not gone into detail on any of my pieces. I’m sure you have heard of PDO, but if not, I’ll give you the quick rundown. PDO can be applied for a team or an individual player. The on ice save percentage is added to the on ice shooting percentage to provide a value.
Getting that number to as close to 100 as possible is good. It means that you aren’t overly lucky or unlucky. This is the best way to help contextualize if a player or team has benefited from lucky bounces on offence or defence. It’s not perfect, but if a team/player is hovering around 103 or more, they have good luck for that season. The higher that number gets, the luckier they were. Anything below 95 is brutally unlucky.
A miracle is their only path to the playoffs
As an aside, if a player has a poor season and their PDO is around 100, it may not be an outlier as some may hope. Keep that in mind when a player or team you follow can’t repeat what they did in a following season. It’s funny since the playoffs are largely dependent on which goalies get hot at the right time and who can get more bounces than the opposition.
Ultimately, the Canucks would need a sky-high PDO to get those extra points in the standings. Considering what they have in goal, they will need near-perfect goaltending. Imagine what Marc-Andre Fleury did in the playoffs, but for a full season. Is it ridiculous to expect a .940 save percentage? Absolutely, but that’s what it will take.
The Canucks are going to have trouble scoring with the current players in their lineup. Of course, they will have some heavy hitters, but every player in that lineup will have to contribute. I would say that the forwards outside of the obvious names would need a insane shooting percentage to contribute in a meaningful way. I’m talking about a Derek Dorsett level, which finished at 27% before his forced retirement. Again, nearly impossible for one player to maintain that, let alone an entire team.
This team is a lot farther from the postseason than their ownership thinks. There will be no quick turnaround. No rise from the bottom out of nowhere. We are just going to see the same thing as last year, with the wheels falling off a lot earlier.
The team will have to learn this the hard way. I believe it’s far too early to expect playoffs and I don’t think anybody expresses this better than Jim Mora. Vancouver would need a miracle to do this. And why would you destroy your chances at drafting Jack Hughes? It’s good the NHL will save the Canucks from themselves. The draft is all we got, but it can’t be that way forever.