We have reached the All-Star Break. At this point, many expected the Vancouver Canucks to a bottom feeder and a contender for the Jack Hughes sweepstakes. However, the Canucks are at the break fighting for a Wild Card spot instead. Can this team make the playoffs?
Nobody expected the Vancouver Canucks to be this high at the standings at the All-Star Break back in October.
Right now, tare in a three-way tie in the wild card race, along with the Dallas Stars and Colorado Avalanche with 52 points. According to SportsClubStats.com, the Canucks have a 33.4% chance at making the playoffs. What would it take for the Canucks to make the playoffs? I’m not saying they will make it but here is some factors that could help them reach the last 16.
Elias Pettersson, Jacob Markstrom continue strong play
What more can be said about the rookie and his play? The kid has been phenomenal and is the biggest reason the Canucks are in the position they are now. If the Canucks want to make the playoffs, he’ll just have to continue what he is doing.
Pettersson must continue those sick passes, powerful shots, you name it. Pettersson must continue piling up the points. He’ll also have to stay healthy too. Imagine how many more points he would have if he played every game this season.
Probably the biggest surprise on the Canucks is Jacob Markstrom. He has posted a .908 save percentage and 2.84 goals against average, with a 19-13-5 record. Those numbers aren’t too bad, but his play of late has been excellent. He looks more calm in net and tracks the puck a lot better. Markstrom has made some key saves helping the Canucks stay in games.
On nights when the Canucks were playing poorly, it was Markstrom who helped them pull of a win or even lose by just a goal or two. If the Canucks want to make the playoffs, Markstrom must continue his run of good form in-goal. Maybe Thatcher Demko can play some games when Markstrom needs a rest. We need to see what Demko is made of as well.
Bo Horvat, Brock Boeser and secondary scoring
Bo Horvat and Brock Boeser are having great seasons. Horvat has played all 51 games this season and has 18 goals and 23 assists for 41 points. Boeser, despite missing 13 games due to injuries, has 16 goals and 18 assists for 34 points in only 38 games.
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Horvat must continue his offensive numbers if the Canucks want to make the playoffs. He must also continue his strong two-way game.
Horvat must continue to be strong on the forecheck and be reliable defensively. Boeser must continue using his shot to score goals and set up his teammates to create offence.
Pettersson, Boeser and Horvat can’t carry the load of offence if the Canucks want to make the playoffs. Other players must contribute offensively. Sven Baertschi can put the puck in the net, though he’s injury-prone. Jake Virtanen has gone cold in the last month, following a strong showing through December.
“Shotgun Jake” needs to get going. (Plus, the shotgun videos need to return.) Josh Leivo can put some points, but the Canucks could use more from him. Nikolay Goldobin had a good run in October and November. But now, he is in the doghouse of head coach Travis Green.
I know Green wants to show him tough love but Goldobin can’t show he has got the tough love message if he is sitting in the press box while Tim Schaller look invisible on the ice. If Goldobin gets out of the doghouse, he needs to return to offensive form.
On another note, the Canucks have had a lot of injury luck over the years. Let’s hope that they can stay relatively healthy for once. If the Canucks want to make the playoffs, they avoid more injuries. The Canucks have a 33.4% chance to make the playoffs. There is a chance. I personally don’t think they will make the playoffs, but you never know with this team — or the NHL anymore.