Why the Canucks will make the playoffs
But enough about other teams, let’s look at the Canucks.
Let’s start with the big three: Elias Pettersson, Quinn Hughes and Thatcher Demko. All three of them took big steps in their careers last season and will look to build on that. Pettersson’s second half showed that is the player he is: A dynamic playmaker. Hughes improved his defensive game from 2020-21 and broke franchise records for a defenceman while Demko emerged as one of the NHL’s best goaltenders.
All three are just going to get better and will be a massive part of the Canucks success. J.T. Miller, Conor Garland and Bo Horvat also make a good supporting cast to the top six.
The rest of the forward group (as of now) is good, especially with the acquisitions of Andrei Kuzmenko, Ilya Mikheyev and Curtis Lazar. Mikheyev helps the top six with speed while Lazar is a responsible defensive centre that helps the fourth line. Kuzmenko was an excellent playmaker in the NHL but he has the chance to prove he can be that in the NHL.
Of course, we can’t forget about head coach Bruce Boudreau. The Canucks head coach brought new life into them since taking over in December. They were 32-15-10 under Boudreau with 74 points. The Canucks played at a 106-point pace under Boudreau.
Throughout Boudreau’s coaching career in the NHL, he has missed the playoffs three times. (including last season.) Boudreau’s teams have never had a losing record even when he was fired midseason.
He also has a history of turning teams around. When he was hired by the Washington Capitals in 2007-08, they were 6-14-1. Under Boudreau, they went 37-17-7, won the Southeast Division title and made the playoffs for the first time in five years. Boudreau won the Jack Adams Trophy for coach of the year.
Boudreau did the same in Anaheim. He took over a Ducks team that was 7-13-4 at the start of the 2011-12 season and despite missing the playoffs, the Ducks went 27-23-8. The following season, the Ducks won the Pacific Division with a 30-12-6 record in a lockout-shortened year.
The Minnesota Wild were coming off a season where they went 38-33-11 when Boudreau was hired in 2016. In his first year in Minnesota, Boudreau led the Wild to a 49-25-8 record and they finished second in the Western Conference.
Boudreau’s track record of turning things around is no fluke. He already did that with the Canucks last season and the fans chanted “Bruce, there it is.” With a full season of Boudreau, fans have the right to be excited. He knows how to guide teams to the playoffs.
Why the Canucks won’t make the playoffs
There is still time to fix it but a huge reason why the Canucks may not make the playoffs is the defence. It is still the same as last season.
Canucks President of Hockey Operations Jim Rutherford called the defensive breakouts “one the worst in the league” at the end-of-season press conference and on the Bob McCown Podcast this past week, admitted that fixing the defence has been tougher than expected.
The Canucks breakouts were very poor last season and the defence often looked lost. They cannot go into next season with the same defensive core.
Then we bring up the competition for the final wild-card spot in the Pacific. The Alberta teams and Vegas will look to fight for the Pacific Division. The Kings might be the team that could cause problems for the Canucks. I have a feeling those two teams will be battling for a playoff spot all season. The Kraken could also surprise people.
We can’t forget about the Central Division teams too. The Dallas Stars and Nashville Predators will be fighting for wild card spots as well.
Can the Canucks be able to keep up with the competition?
Under Boudreau, the Canucks will be fighting for a playoff spot all season. I think they could make it as a wild card team. However, if things go right they can surprise some people and finish higher than that.
With a decent forward core, two good goaltenders (Spencer Martin must prove he can handle the backup role, however) and an experienced coach that usually takes teams to the playoffs, I do see the Canucks as a playoff team in 2022-23.
Do you think the Canucks are a playoff team in 2022-23? Let us know in the comments below, on Facebook or on Twitter.