Canucks’ Playoff Hopes Fading With Recent Slump

Coming into the season, there weren’t a ton of expectations for the Vancouver Canucks to be battling for a playoff spot. As it stands, they sit eight points back of a wild card position, and with every passing game, the challenge is only increasing. With just 13 games remaining on the season, time is running out, and the Canucks playoff hopes are fading with their recent slump.

The Canucks have dropped back-to-back crucial games at the hands of the St. Louis Blues and are just 3-5-2 over their past 10 contests. Between the teams they’re trying to catch and their remaining schedule, it’s going to take some kind of run to get into a wild card spot. It’s not impossible, but it certainly will be full of challenges in order to make it come to fruition.

Teams Canucks Are Trying To Catch

Any time you are chasing a playoff spot, there are always a few other teams ultimately clumped together trying to accomplish the same thing. The Canucks in this case looking up in the standings, trying to catch the likes of the Dallas Stars, the Vegas Golden Knights, and the Winnipeg Jets. While the Edmonton Oilers and Nashville Predators aren’t much further up, let’s stick with the first three teams for argument’s sake.

Vegas has had the most recent success, winning four straight contests and propelling them back into wild card contention for the time being, just a point back of Dallas and two back of Nashville. With injuries to key players such as Robin Lehner, captain Mark Stone, Max Pacioretty, and Alec Martinez, the urgency in Vegas is as high as it’s been all season long.

Bruce Boudreau Vancouver Canucks head coach
Bruce Boudreau, Vancouver Canucks head coach (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images)

Dallas is probably in the most comfortable position, sitting a point ahead of the Golden Knights with 81 points along with three games in hand. They’ve been playing well of late, winning three straight themselves and going 7-3-0 over their last 10 contests, with their last loss conveniently coming against the Canucks. With Jake Oettinger playing exceptionally well after Brayden Holtby went down with a lower-body injury, Dallas is in the driver’s seat and in control of their own fate.

Then there’s the Jets, who are five points back of the Stars and three up on the Canucks. After winning seven of 10 games, they’ve now dropped two straight to the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Los Angeles Kings as they try and make a last-ditch effort for the postseason.

The Canucks are currently seven points back of Vegas, six behind the Stars, and just three shy of the Jets. With just 13 games remaining this season, they’ll have to take care of business over the course of their remaining schedule.

Vancouver’s Remaining Schedule

If Vancouver wishes to have any hopes of a postseason birth, they have to deal with the teams ahead of them on their remaining schedule in the final 13 games. While there are some teams that the Canucks should handle, there are also opponents that could be vital to beat in order to not only catch but leapfrog in the standings.

Of their 13 remaining games, six come against teams currently in a playoff spot. Those matchups come against the Minnesota Wild, Calgary Flames, and Edmonton Oilers along with the Kings and Stars. They also have three games alone against the Golden Knights, who they play a home-and-home with starting on Sunday in Vancouver. While they aren’t technically in a playoff position, they’ll be fighting tooth and nail and playing their best hockey to try and sneak in.

Related: Canucks Need Bruce Boudreau for the 2022-23 Season

Then there are the non-playoff teams left, which include the Arizona Coyotes twice, the San Jose Sharks, Ottawa Senators, and the Seattle Kraken. Arizona and Seattle are the two worst teams in the league, with 47 and 48 points on the year, while the Sens are ranked 27th in the NHL and Sharks sit 23rd overall. These matchups are absolute must-win games for Vancouver, especially if they can’t get the better of the playoff teams remaining.

Even if they can sweep the likes of the bottom third teams, it’s going to take a special run just to have a chance.

What It’s Going to Take to Get In

After the last full 82-game regular season was back in 2018-19, the lowest wild card team that made the playoffs was the Colorado Avalanche with 90 points followed by Dallas with 93. As it stands right now, the Predators hold down the first wild card spot with 82 points, while the Stars sit just behind them with 81. Here’s what it’s roughly going to take for the Canucks to get into the playoff picture.

The Predators are on pace to win 47 games and have 98 points, while the Stars are currently behind Nashville and Edmonton, they’re on a 99-point pace according to FiveThirtyEight. Vancouver currently stands with 73 points, and for them to hit that mark, they would have to go 13-0-0 to meet that mark of 99 points just to have a chance. While that’s highlight unlikely, going 10-3-0 would put them at 93 points. From there, they would hope for Nashville or Dallas to slip a little bit over the final weeks of the regular season.

Vancouver Canucks Vasily Podkolzin, Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Juho Lammikko celebrate
Vancouver Canucks Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Juho Lammikko celebrate Vasily Podkolzin’s first NHL goal (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

It’s not ideal, and Vancouver will need to both take care of their own business while getting some help in the process, but we’ve seen strangers things (Senators 2014-15 run of 24-4-4). All the Canucks can do at this point is play the team in front of them, and hope for a few things to fall in their favor, starting with the Golden Knights at home on Sunday.

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