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Wake With Elias: How realistic are the Canucks playoff odds?

After winning eight of their last 10 games, the Canucks’ playoff odds have increased from “not a chance in hell” to “still probably not happening.”

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NHL: DEC 16 Canucks at Sharks
Vancouver Canucks Left Wing Tanner Pearson (70) bleeds from the face during the NHL pro hockey game between the Vancouver Canucks and San Jose Sharks on December 16, 2021 at the SAP Center in San Jose CA.
Photo by Bob Kupbens/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Vancouver Canucks are emerging from the holiday break jolly, full of beer, and in the midst of a six-game winning streak.

After having their last five games postponed because of the rising number of COVID cases in the league, as of writing, the Canucks will return to the game action for the first time in 13 days in Anaheim against the Ducks on Wednesday night.

With the vibes in Vancouver finally feeling positive, is it time to put a damper on them by talking about their playoff odds?

Depending on your point of view, “playoff talk” might not constitute a dreary mood whatsoever.

When Travis Green was fired earlier this month, most models had the Canucks playoff odds around 1%. Today, The Athletic puts their odds at 7%, while Money Puck and their slightly more positive model has the Canucks’ odds at 19.1%.

The Athletic has the Canucks odds sitting at 13th overall in the Western Conference, which is currently where they reside in the standings. Money Puck has the Canucks’ odds ahead of the San Jose Sharks, giving them the 12th-best playoff chances in the Western Conference.

Here is how the Western Conference is looking as we emerge from the Christmas break.

Courtesy of NHL.com

It’s no secret that expecting the Canucks to make the playoffs is a tall task. With that in mind, here are two questions worth considering.

  1. How many of these teams do you think the Canucks can leapfrog in the standings? And, more importantly, which current playoff team would they realistically be finishing ahead of?
  2. Can the Canucks overcome one of the toughest remaining schedules in the league?

We’ll have a better idea about the answer to question #2 in January. According to Power Rankings Guru, Vancouver has the 5th toughest remaining schedule in the NHL. They also have the toughest schedule remaining among all Western Conference teams.

The Canucks have a ten-game stretch in January where they’ll face nine playoff teams, and one who’s currently just outside of a Wild Card spot (Winnipeg Jets).

  • Tuesday, Jan. 11th @ Florida Panthers
  • Thursday, Jan. 13th @ Tampa Bay Lightning
  • Saturday, Jan. 15th @ Carolina Hurricanes
  • Sunday, Jan. 16th @ Washington Capitals
  • Tuesday, Jan. 18th @ Nashville Predators
  • Friday, Jan 21st vs. Florida Panthers
  • Sunday, Jan. 23rd vs. St. Louis Blues
  • Tuesday, Jan. 25th vs. Edmonton Oilers
  • Thursday, Jan. 27th @ Winnipeg Jets
  • Saturday, Jan. 29th @ Calgary Flames

That’s a pretty brutal stretch, and it should probably be considered a win if the Canucks can play .500 over those 10 games.

Over the next five games, the Canucks only play one playoff team (@ Anaheim: Dec. 29th) and four non-playoff teams (@ Los Angeles: Dec 30th, @ Seattle: Jan 1st, vs. New York Islanders: Jan 5th, vs. Ottawa: Jan 8th).If they want to continue the conversation about keeping their playoff odds alive, they need to come away with wins in the majority of those games.

Canucks News

  • Although the odds are stacked against Vancouver, Travis Yost writes that it’s unwise to count them out just yet [TSN]
  • Tyler Myers, who ended up in COVID protocol with pretty mild symptoms, gives his thoughts on potential changes to the league’s policy for handling asymptomatic players. [TSN]
  • The lone Canucks prospect at the World Juniors, Dmitri Zlodeyev, was just named player of the game in Russia’s win over Switzerland. [Vancouver is Awesome]
  • The Abbotsford Canucks have had their third and fourth consecutive games postponed, which were both set to take place against the Manitoba Moose. [Abbotsford News]

They now aren’t scheduled to play until January 5th at home against Bakersfield. The Baby Canucks are currently 9th in the Western Conference with a 10-9-2 record. Sheldon Dries leads the team in scoring with 13 goals and 23 points in 21 games.

  • 2021 overall was not a good year for the Canucks, despite being on the track to finish on a positive note.

Of course, there were some spectacular plays amongst the spectacular failure. Here’s the top 5 plays of the calendar year from Sporsnet. Spoiler Alert: It’s a lot of JT Miller and Thatcher Demko.