To say Elias Pettersson has been hot the last five games would be an understatement. The Canucks star is currently on a five-game point streak where he has recorded four goals and 11 points. After a slow start to the season, he has rediscovered his game and helped his team get back into the playoff chase.
Pettersson’s Past 5 Games
Since Feb. 17, Pettersson is tied for the league lead in points with J.T. Miller, Mitch Marner and Auston Matthews. What separates them, however, is that the two Maple Leaf stars have played one extra game. Also, each player has averaged over 19 minutes of ice time during the same time frame while the former Calder Trophy winner is thriving, even while playing 16:45 a night. In short, he is making the most of his opportunities, whether that be on the power play, 5-on-5 or shorthanded.
With trade talk surrounding players like Miller, Tyler Motte and Conor Garland, Pettersson’s dominance over the past five games may have been overlooked. Yes, he is lighting up the scoreboard, but he has also shown he can do the little things needed to be successful. During the five-game point streak, he has six hits, three blocks, four takeaways, zero giveaways, and has drawn three penalties while not taking one. He looks ready to become the elite two-way center the Canucks hoped he would be when they drafted him fifth overall back in 2017. There is still room to grow, but these past five games have shown he can still compete with the league’s best and that his slow start to the season is just a thing of the past.
Special Teams Work
Where Pettersson has thrived over the past five games is special teams. Five of his 11 points have come either on the power play or shorthanded, which is a welcomed relief as he only had 13 special teams points in his first 49 games to start the season. Though, before we discuss his work on the power play, let’s dive into his penalty-killing numbers.
Since Feb. 17, Pettersson has been on the ice for 3:54. He is still growing and learning how to play the penalty kill in the NHL, so his low ice time should be expected. During his limited time over his point streak, he has drawn a penalty, had a takeaway and sniped a goal on a partial breakaway. On top of that, the opposition did not register a shot on goal when he was on the ice shorthanded. This is a limited sample size, but he has had this success against three of the top 11 power plays in the NHL in Calgary, Anaheim and the New York Rangers. Over time, he will start getting more ice time shorthanded, especially if he continues to shut down the opposition as he has the last five games.
Now onto the power play, where Pettersson’s shot is once again blowing by goaltenders. He has two goals and two assists with seven shots on goal, but it’s what has happened away from the puck that has been more impressive. Now that he is firing the puck more often, teams are shifting more coverage over to him and away from players like Bo Horvat in the slot or Miller on the opposite wing. The result has been other players on the top unit contributing power-play goals in the three of the last four games and the Canucks operating at a 31.6 percent efficiency rate since Feb. 17.
A Confident Pettersson Is Exactly What the Canucks Need
Pettersson is looking more confident on the ice, and that is good news for the Canucks. Early on in the season, he struggled, and there were even calls to potentially trade him. Over these last few games, however, he is starting to look like he did in the 2019 playoff series versus the St. Louis Blues, where he put up nine points in six games. The 23-year-old is the future of this team and has hopefully quieted the doubters for the rest of the season.
Adam is excited to be joining The Hockey Writers as part of the Seattle Kraken and Vancouver Canucks team. His work can also be found at https://www.area51sportsnetwork.com/ where he covers the Vancouver Giants of the Western Hockey League.