Is there anything this Canucks team isn’t doing right?
With an astonishing record of 21-8-4 under Bruce Boudreau, the team has legitimately entered the conversation for a playoff spot.
Sitting just 3 points back of Dallas for the last Wild Card spot and 4 points back of Vegas for 3rd in the Pacific Division, the Canucks find themselves right back in the race, and if they keep this pace up for the last 24 games of the season, the playoffs are not that far from reality.
Over the last 2 games in particular, Vancouver was able to outscore its defensive problems and achieve a couple of gutsy victories, with a 6-4 win against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday, and a 5-3 win against the Montreal Canadiens on Wednesday. With these two wins, the Canucks extended their winning streak to 3 games and they have now won 6 of their last 7 as they gradually continue to climb the standings.
With that, let’s take a look at 1 pro and 1 con as well as a concluding thought before the Canucks return to the ice on Friday to host the NHL's all-time goals record-seeker, Alexander Ovechkin, and the Washington Capitals.
Pro: Tanner Pearson turning it up
When Tanner Pearson was signed to a 3-year contract extension almost a year ago, numerous people questioned the move, and with good reason too.
After all, Pearson is 29 and the more ideal situation for a team in a spot like the Canucks would have been to trade him for future assets at last year’s deadline.
However, we all obviously know that wasn’t to be the case, and when the Ontario native was resigned, there were many questions surrounding Pearson’s production and whether or not he will be able to get back to the 20 goal level he was at in the 2019-20 season.
Despite a slow start to the season, Pearson has really settled into the zone over the past couple of weeks, having rippled the mesh 5 times in the last 8 games, which included 3 goals on this recent 4-game road trip.
Coming into the final stretch of the season, the Canucks would need every single one of their players to be at their best if they want to make the playoffs, and having solid production from Pearson, who is being paid top 9 money after all, is undoubtedly a welcome sign for this team.
Con: Where is the captain?
While the Canucks have been getting solid production from Tanner Pearson, JT Miller, Elias Pettersson, and a bit from Brock Boeser as of late, Bo Horvat has largely been unnoticeable.
Ever since the All-star break, the captain has only scored 1 goal at even strength and hasn’t looked particularly dangerous anywhere other than on the man advantage.
In the 2020 playoff bubble, we saw what Horvat is capable of when he’s at his best and he is a hard-working individual without a shadow of a doubt. However, it would be extremely beneficial for the Canucks and their playoff aspirations if Horvat can turn it up a bit offensively, particularly at 5-on-5, and help keep the Canucks in the race.
Although, the good news is that Horvat was able to pot home an empty-netter on Wednesday night against the Canadiens, so that should at least help boost his confidence to a certain degree as this 7-game homestand continues.
Concluding Thought: The Elias Pettersson files
There are a couple of interesting things to monitor when Bruce Boudreau’s former team, the Washington Capitals, are in town on Friday night.
A storyline that the whole league will be monitoring on Friday, would be the fact that Alexander Ovechkin needs just 1 more goal to hit 767 and pass Jaromir Jagr for 3rd in all-time NHL goals. Will the Great 8 be able to achieve the record against the Canucks tomorrow night? Hopefully not.
From a Canucks perspective, an interesting thing to watch for would be how Elias Pettersson performs against the Caps. In 5 career games against Washington, Pettersson has 5 goals which includes a 2-goal performance in D.C. earlier this year.