Last season, Canada’s NHL clubs were brutal.
Only the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Winnipeg Jets made the postseason while the rest sat at home and watched or played golf. Basically put, it was a very down year up in Canada.
This season has been a bit of a surprise. The likes of the Leafs, Jets, Calgary Flames, Edmonton Oilers, and Montreal Canadiens are holding down a playoff spot.
There is also another team that currently is in a playoff spot and it is even more so surprising. Believe it or not, it is the Vancouver Canucks.
As of this writing, the Canucks are 9-6-1 and have 19 points. This puts them tied for first in the Pacific Division with the Flames and San Jose Sharks.
This is quite incredible. The Canucks are supposed to be in the process of rebuilding, but instead, they have been unbelievably competitive and very tough to play against.
One reason why this team is off to such a great start is because of the play of rookie Elias Pettersson. Pettersson, 19, has been an absolute beast so far this year and has easily been the league’s best rookie thus far. In 10 games, Pettersson has 16 points (10 goals and 6 assists) and has shown both his team and the rest of the league that he has the potential to be a rock star in this league. He’s fast, has great hands, a terrific shot, and is incredibly difficult to stop one-on-one.
The rest of the team’s offense has also been somewhat productive. Guys like Bo Horvat (11 points), Brock Boeser (11 points), Jake Virtanen (7 points), and Markus Granlund (6 points) have all contributed so far and hopefully will continue to do so.
The club’s goaltending also has not been as bad as it usually is. The starter, Jacob Markstrom, is currently 6-3-1 with a 3.02 goals against average and a .902 save percentage. Yes, that goals against is not great, but this is a very young defensive group that Markstrom is playing behind. The big number that matters is the wins, and to have 6 wins in 10 starts is more than solid.
The team’s backup, Anders Nilsson, also has not been terrible for this hockey club. While he is just 3-3, he does have a better goals against average (2.67) and save percentage (.912) than Markstrom.
Lastly, this is a team that works unbelievably hard for their head coach Travis Green. They’re aggressive in their own end, they have a great forecheck, they go after loose pucks, and they play with a ton of speed.
While their defense may take too many chances with the puck in their own zone and leave guys open in key areas in their own zone, the team has still managed to win a lot of games and keep pace in what is going to be a very tight division this year.
If you’re a Canucks fan, you should be more than happy with the way the team is playing and be very excited about what the future could hold for your favorite hockey team.