The Vancouver Canucks are miraculously 5-2-0 to start the 2023-24 season, with their latest victory coming in the form of a 5-0 thrashing of the St. Louis Blues. They are not a team that is built well, nor are they the most talented, but the players are buying in and digging deep at the right time.
We’ve seen this happen before under Travis Green and more recently Bruce Boudreau, but this time under Rick Tocchet, the team seems to be both playing well and moving towards the future. That’s key in pacifying core pieces like J.T. Miller, Quinn Hughes, Thatcher Demko, and Elias Pettersson.
It’s unlikely the Canucks continue to significantly outperform their underlying metrics, but then again, they could be skewed by their early season survival of the two-game Edmonton Oilers siege. Arguably the more talented team – and one that should be a Stanley Cup contender – the Oilers laid it on the Canucks, but lost twice in devastating succession.
That’s not sustainable, and neither the Canucks nor Canucks fans should rely on the team being able to pull that off with any type of frequency. However, what is sustainable is using your well-structured team that plays with tactical discipline to beat up on weaker opponents like the Blues. Plus, it’s not like the Blues are slouches; they still have Robert Thomas, Jordan Kyrou, and Pavel Buchnevich, and Jordan Binnington has had a bit of a renaissance to start this season.
If the Canucks can continue to win the games they deserve to win, who’s to say they can’t reach the postseason? Teams like the Oilers, Calgary Flames, and Seattle Kraken are severely underperforming; the Los Angeles Kings have glaring weaknesses on their backend, and the Anaheim Ducks have been kind of good, but not truly good enough for the long haul. Unless some of last year’s playoff teams sort it out soon, the Canucks might be for real.
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We’ll see how the Canucks manage to make out as the season draws out further, but with their star players buying into the system, there’s no telling how far they can go. It’s important not to put the carriage before the horse, though.