If you are a Vancouver Canucks fan, than you know it’s been somewhat of a dark period for you folks.
Your team has not made the playoffs in several years, both Henrik and Daniel Sedin retired, and the team has not played a meaningful game in March in years. Basically put, your team has been awful.
Well, don’t look now Canuck fans, but you’re favorite hockey team is one of the league’s most surprising teams this season. Yes, I am talking about YOUR team.
As of this writing, the Canucks are just one point out of the second wild card spot and two points out of the first wild card spot. If you’re counting at home, this means that they are essentially on the playoff bubble.
There are a few reasons why this team has had some success this season. The first is the play of their unbelievable rookie, Elias Pettersson.
Pettersson, 20, is currently leading the team in scoring with 39 points (19 goals and 20 assists). Not only is he leading his team in scoring, but is also leading all rookies.
He has been unbelievably fun to watch. He has great hands, terrific speed, is smart with the puck, and when he has the puck, it seems like he can do whatever he wants with it.
The team has also gotten some solid offense from players like Bo Horvat (35 points), Brock Boeser (26 points), and Nikolay Goldobin (23 points). This offense may be young, but they are currently 11th in the league in goals scored with 123 goals in 41 games, which means they are averaging three goals a game.
The Canucks have also gotten some pretty good goaltending from Jacob Markstrom as of late. On the season, Markstrom, 28, is currently 16-10-3 with a 2.81 goals-against average and a .910 save percentage.
These numbers may not seem great, but it should be noted just how good he was in the month of December. It can be said that because of Markstrom’s play that month, the Canucks are back in the thick of things in the West.
Markstrom went 8-0-1 with a 1.66 goals-against average and a .943 save percentage. While his overall numbers are not spectacular, this league is all about what have you done for me lately and right now he has been terrific.
If this team truly wants to make the playoffs, they are going to need to improve defensively. Markstrom may be playing well now, but that will more than likely not last.
As of this writing, the team is 26th in the league in goals allowed as they have given up 127 goals in 41 games. If you look at what was written several paragraphs above, this team has allowed more goals than they have scored this season.
This is a problem and has been an issue for this team for the last few seasons. While Markstrom has played well lately, he’s not someone that can play well consistently and his partner, Anders Nilsson has not been great this season as he is currently 3-7-1 with a 3.00 goals-against average with a .900 save percentage.
Yes, the team’s goaltending has been inconsistent this season, but the blame can’t be placed solely on them. This team struggles with the puck in their own zone, gives up a lot of quality scoring chances, and does not do a good enough job in front of their own net.
If this team can fix their defensive problems and get consistent goaltending, they may be able to find a way to stick around in the playoff race. This should keep the team’s fans interested the rest of the season and who knows, this team may just end up continuing to surprise them.
Photo: The Canadian Press