The All-Star break is upon us and the Vancouver Canucks are first place in the Pacific Division. We discuss and make predictions on the team’s playoff chances.
The last time the Vancouver Canucks made the playoffs, the famous hit TV-series, Two and a Half Men was in its final season. And no, we’re not talking about when Charlie Sheen was still the main star, but actually when Ashton Kutcher took over. That’s the last time the Canucks played extra hockey in April.
Skip ahead five years, and maybe, just maybe the Canucks make it to the battle of 16. As it stands right now in the middle of the All-Star break, the Canucks are not only sitting in a playoff spot, but they actually hold the top seed in the Pacific Division with games in hand. Currently, Vancouver holds a sweet looking record of 27-18-4.
Now a lot can happen between right now and the final game of the season, but the Canucks are looking driven and sitting pretty. Don’t get me wrong, the Pacific Division is in about as tight of a race as it can be, but the Canucks have games in hand and the organizational depth to make the post-season.
I asked the writers and contributors at The Canuck Way to chime in on their thoughts on where the Canucks will finish in the division, if they will make the playoffs, and if they do, how far will they go?
This Canucks club has three players representing the franchise this weekend in St. Louis, Missouri for the 2020 NHL All-Star weekend. An elite forward in Elias Pettersson from Sweden, his power play quarterback and world-class rookie defender, Quinn Hughes and an absolutely game-breaking goaltender in Jacob Markstrom.
Three players are representing the Toronto Maple Leafs, three more players for the Washington Capitals and a total of four players for the hosting team, the St. Louis Blues. Why does that matter, you ask? The last two cup champions have carried an NHL All-Star or at least an elite-level talent at each major position.
The Blues won the cup with Conn Smythe winning forward, Ryan O’Reilly, true defender Alex Pietrangelo and some insane top-notch goaltending from the Calder Trophy runner-up, Jordan Binnington. The year before that the Capitals went the distance with Alex Ovechkin, TJ Oshie, John Carlson and Braden Holtby. With Pettersson playing at forward, Hughes on the blueline and Markstrom solid in the crease, the Canucks have all the right tools.
Vancouver has been getting some great secondary scoring and solid defence, but for the bulk of this team’s successes this year, it’s been because of the All-Star calibre play from Pettersson, Hughes and Markstrom. Head coach, Travis Green knows this and will once again look to his star players to make the difference.
In my opinion, Vancouver is a playoff team. The Canucks will make the playoffs if the star talent can stay healthy and stay hot. In particular, Pettersson needs to remain over a point per game and Markstrom needs to keep pucks out of the net. I’m Predicting theCanucks place second in the Pacific Division and make it to the second round.
I think the Canucks will not just make the playoffs, but win the Pacific Division (just barely). If they win most of the divisional matchups and their remaining games in hand, they should be able to do it. In the playoffs, they will make it to the second round before bowing out against one of the stronger powers in the Western Conference. This playoff experience will be very beneficial to the young core the Canucks are building around right now. It will help them to greater things next season where they will start becoming a perennial postseason contender.
I do believe the Canucks will clinch a playoff spot this year, and they’ll most likely finish second in the Pacific Division. One key thing that the Canucks need to follow in order to have a successful run in the postseason, is to finish the regular season and walk into the first round with a hot goalie.
Markstrom could be that potential candidate. We all saw how the St. Louis Blues’ postseason turned out with a goaltender like Binnington last year. In my opinion, Vancouver should split the last 33 games between Thatcher Demko and Markstrom to avoid injuries and exhaustion. However, Markstrom should play the last five games of the season in order to run into the playoffs with a hot hand, like he has all season long.
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I do think the Canucks are going to make the playoffs; at the beginning of the season, I thought they were going to finish third in the division. Now that we are more than halfway through, I am more optimistic in thinking they could win their division.
I think if the Canucks can avoid playing Vegas, they could win two rounds, losing to whichever team comes out of the Central Division.
For the first time in a long time, I can finally say that the Canucks making the playoffs is a possibility. I think they can actually make it — and they’ll finish third in the Pacific Division.
However, the division is very toughm and they need to be consistent, and guys like Markstrom, Hughes and Pettersson need to be at their best. Each game down the stretch is importan. I think the Canucks can actually win a round, but they’ll make it no further than the second round. It will be interesting to see the Canucks compete in a really tight division.
At this point in the season, given the exciting progress the Vancouver Canucks have made and their newfound position as first in the Pacific Division at the All-Star break, I truly believe they will reach the playoffs for the first time in five seasons.
In my opinion, they’ll most likely finish at third in the Pacific, as Vegas and Arizona are both deep, defensively sound teams that I expect to find their groove by season’s end and climb up to the top of the division.
Vancouver, Edmonton and Calgary will be slugging it out until the bitter end to see who can grab the last playoff spots, while simultaneously battling with bubble teams in the Central Division for the two highly sought after wild card spots. Once the Canucks reach the postseason, anything can happen. This young group could potentially upset a team in the first round, although that’s about as far as I see them going. But in order for us to see the return of playoff hockey in this city, the Canucks will need Markstrom to remain stellar, injuries to stay at a minimum, and depth forwards to continue their much-needed production.
I think the Canucks will make the playoffs in 2020, although I do not expect them to maintain their lead in the Pacific Division. Barring a St. Louis-style run from any of the California teams, the Canucks, Coyotes, Golden Knights, Flames, and Oilers seem destined to finish top five in the division.
Of those five, I see the Coyotes and Oilers regressing after the All-Star Break, given the former’s lack of depth and the latter’s lack of secondary scoring. This would leave only Calgary, Vegas, and Vancouver, each of whom would automatically make the playoffs.
However, the Flames are likely better than their performance this season so far has indicated, and I believe that Calgary or Vegas will outperform the Canucks down the stretch, especially since the Canucks have a difficult February schedule that includes multiple matchups with top overall opponents such as the Islanders and Bruins.
In the end, the Canucks will finish the season in third in the Pacific, with either the Flames or Golden Knights taking the division title. The Canucks have been consistently snakebitten against Vegas, so I cannot see them winning the best of seven series against the Golden Knights in the near future, but defeating Calgary and moving on to the semifinals may be possible, albeit in six or seven games. However, odds are that they would face Vegas in the second round, making the prospect of advancing beyond that point highly unlikely.
I think that we can all agree that the Canucks have been better this season than anybody expected. With that, I can’t imagine that they are going to take their gas off the pedal,but rather the proverbial car will speed up –leading the Canucks to the promised land of the postseason. The
Pacific Division standings are crazy, but I think that Vancouver will be where they currently are at the end of the season — in the first place. Once they finish in the first place, Vancouver will get a favourable draw in the first round, however, with the lack of playoff experience through the roster, the young team will bow out in the first round.
Back in our early season roundtable, I predicted the Canucks would make the playoffs via a wildcard berth, and while the team has been largely inconsistent at times if anything they have improved their chances of making the second round. Markstrom and Demko have provided better than average (or as some would say, mediocre) goaltending, Hughes leads a defensive group that brings a blend of offensive awareness as well as defensive tenacity, and Pettersson has led the way up front for a dangerous top-six with a potential of six 20-goal scorers.
Overall the Canucks have shown they can make the playoffs and will finish second in the Pacific division, even if they won’t be dubbed “the Best of the West.” With that said, their chances of making it past the first round are completely up to their matchup.
While inexperienced, I see them making it to the second round if matched up against a Calgary or Arizona but colour me surprised if they can defeat an experienced and deep Vegas team or an Edmonton team led by the two best players in the world.
You’ve heard it from The Canuck Way best. The writers here truly believe the 50-year Vancouver Canucks are bound to make the 2020 playoffs. As for how far the franchise will go, that can be a debate for another time, but from what we’ve seen so far, we are convinced this is, in fact, a playoff team. Are you?