With 42 games in the books, over half the season is complete and the Canucks find themselves sitting just shy of the .500 threshold.
Despite having a record of 10-4-3 under Bruce Boudreau, the playoffs still seem like a mere fantasy for the Canucks.
Realistically, they probably need to win at least 25 of their next 40 games to have any chance of qualifying for the postseason.
That’s where the Canucks find themselves after dropping their last two contests.
On Sunday, with 4 goalies in Covid protocol, the Canucks were forced to put 22-year-old Michael Dipietro in between the pipes against the St Louis Blues. In addition to that, UBC Thunderbirds goaltender Rylan Toth, backed up Dipietro in a game the team would end up losing 3-1.
On Tuesday night, the team upgraded in net with the return of Spencer Martin, as the 26-year-old started just his second game for the Canucks as they took on the Edmonton Oilers.
Despite jumping to a 2-0 lead in the 2nd period, the Canucks couldn’t close things out and despite a 44 save performance from Spencer Martin, they ended up losing 3-2 in overtime to the Oilers.
With that, let’s take a look at 1 pro and 1 con, as well as a concluding thought before the Canucks take to the ice against the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday.
Pro: Elias Pettersson embarking on a redemption tour
With the Canucks struggles in the first quarter of the season causing a ton of frustration in the province, one of the biggest talking points regarding the team early was the lack of production from Elias Pettersson.
Coming back from a wrist injury that caused him to miss the whole second half of the 2020-2021 season, the 23-year-old just couldn’t seem to figure things out upon his return to the ice, and his lack of confidence was clearly evident.
That has finally begun to change as of late.
Pettersson has started dazzling with his speed, skill, creativity and, dare I say it, he has begun showing signs of his former self.
He has 4 goals in his last 5 games, as well as an assist for a total of 5 points. Pettersson has also begun hitting the net more as of late, as he has registered 9 shots on goal over these past 5 games, with just under 50% of them rippling the mesh.
Pettersson’s production as of late is a welcome addition to a Canucks team that is starving for offense, which takes us to our biggest con from the last 2 games, the team’s lack of scoring at even strength.
Con: Where is the 5-on-5 production?
The way things have been going in the last few games, it seems that the main factor that would decide the Canucks’ fate in each contest is their special teams play. That is largely due to the fact that the team has failed to generate any sufficient offense at 5-on-5 recently.
Over the last 2 games, the Canucks only scored 3 goals with only one of them coming at even strength. That happened to be Tanner Pearson’s 1-0 tally against the Blues on Sunday.
However, as far as 5-on-5 play is concerned, that goal came immediately after the Canucks had a 5-on-3. Both penalized Blues hadn’t really returned to the play by the time Pearson scored.
On a broader scale, ever since the start of the team’s grueling 5 game road trip on January 11, the Canucks have only managed to put up 9 even-strength goals in 8 games.
Such lack of offensive production is simply not good enough and the Canucks would require a whole lot more from their forwards as well as their defenseman in order to generate more offense and stay in the hunt for a playoff spot as the season progresses.
Concluding thought: Is Nils Hoglander about to have a bounceback game on Thursday?
As far as the Canucks recent lack of offensive production is concerned, one of the factors that have served as a catalyst for this problem has been the lack of results from Nils Hoglander.
The 20-year-old has gone scoreless in 8 straight games and hasn’t registered a point since January 18 against the Predators.
However, one thing to be optimistic about regarding Nils Hoglander is the fact that he has always been quite impressive against the Jets. In 11 games against the Jets, Hoglander has 7 goals, which include a couple of 2 goal performances as well.
It will be interesting to see if the 21-year-old can continue his success against the Jets on Thursday and get back on the scoresheet.