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Wake With Elias: The ride was fun, but mediocre Canucks lose their grasp on playoff chances

This isn’t a team built for the playoffs.

St Louis Blues v Vancouver Canucks
Brandon Saad #20 of the St. Louis Blues scores on Thatcher Demko #35 of the Vancouver Canucks during their NHL game at Rogers Arena March 30, 2022 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. St. Louis won 4-3.
Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images

We probably should have known better.

And hey, maybe some of you did.

The Vancouver Canucks put up a fight under Bruce Boudreau after an early-season death march to the NHL’s basement. Reinvigorated by the regime change, the Canucks were the eighth-best team in the league until the beginning of March.

The playoff odds were still long at that point, but you wouldn’t be blamed for buying into the chase.

With fate in their own hands, the Canucks botched an opportunity to move into a Wild Card position. They posted a 6-5-3 record in the month of March, good enough for 21st in the NHL.

Fittingly, that’s probably where the Canucks belong in terms of true talent.

While it’s always fun to scoreboard watch and believe your team can pull off the impossible, the cold hard truth is that this was a team destined for mediocrity, propped up by a good goaltender, one solid defenceman and a couple of supremely talented forwards.

Since Boudreau took over, the Canucks have had an above-average power play and a below-average penalty kill.

At even-strength, their 49.7% expected goals-for is 17th which is, well, mediocre.

Their 7.6% shooting percentage under Boudreau suggests some bad luck, but part of that is a lack of talent throughout the lineup.

When you begin to step away from the fugazi playoff chase and face reality, you should realize that major surgery is needed in the offseason.

The Blues, who aren’t a top Cup contender, highlight the Canucks need for overall improvement. St. Louis is a deeper team upfront. They’re also bigger and more mobile on defence.

We’ll see what the offseason brings, but you can bet that future outlook talk for this group is going to pick up.

As it stands, the minute playoff dream unofficially died last night, as an undermanned, overly slow Canucks team folded against a good, but not great, St. Louis squad.

Canucks News

  • You would have thought with Game 69 falling on hump day, there would be more happiness at The Rog last night...nonetheless, Jimmi does his best to make you smile with his recap. [Nucks Misconduct]
  • Although the trade deadline is over, Miller and Boeser still face uncertain futures with the Canucks. [The Hockey News]
  • It appears as if Nils Hoglander’s season is over. [The Province]
  • Jake Virtanen has a trial date to be heard by a judge and jury in B.C. Supreme Court on July 18th.

That falls on my birthday. You know what I want? Justice. [CBC]

  • Finally, this was from earlier in the week but Amalie Benjamin did a fantastic write-up on Emilie Castonguay and Cammi Granato. [NHL]

Around the NHL

  • Aside from the Canucks losing, the worst possible scenarios unfolded for the Canucks in terms of playoff jockeying last night.

The Winnipeg Jets beat the Buffalo Sabres in a shootout 3-2 last night. They now have a three-point lead on the Canucks with a game in hand.

The Vegas Golden Knights officially eliminated the Seattle Kraken from the playoffs, on the back of Logan Thompson’s first career NHL shutout. They have a one-point lead over the Dallas Stars for the final Wild Card spot, although Dallas has four games in hand.

Finally, both the Los Angeles Kings and Edmonton Oilers were already slipping away from the Canucks. Both teams improved their stranglehold on playoff spots with the Oilers emerging victorious 4-3 in overtime.

  • Scary moment last night for Clayton Keller, who was taken off the ice on a stretcher in the third period during the Arizona Coyotes game against the San Jose Sharks. [NHL]
  • Taylor Hall was fined $5,000 by the league for punching Toronto’s Ilya Lyubushkin. [CBC]
  • Here’s a quick look at the top-10 players in the NHL this season in terms of actual salary as opposed to average annual value. [The Hockey News]
  • Here’s a closer look at Roman Josi’s historic season. He’s on pace for 100 points over 80 games (he missed two earlier in the season). [Sportsnet]