Canucks’ Success Rides On Pettersson’s Shoulders

The Vancouver Canucks have gotten off to a mediocre start, to say the least, so far this season. They sit at 3-4-1 on the year, and while they’re getting production from some of their other top players like Conor Garland and J.T. Miller, there is still much to be desired from others. Even if there is a better support system this year in Vancouver, the Canucks’ success rides on Elias Pettersson’s shoulders.

Yes it’s early, but with the Canucks vying for their first playoff appearance since the bubble in 2019, they’ll need Pettersson to be at his very best if they have any postseason aspirations. Whether it’s re-discovering his chemistry with his line mates, getting back to his usual point totals, or expanding upon another area of his game that can benefit the team, Pettersson needs to be better for Vancouver.

Pettersson’s Disappointing Point Totals

Though the season is only eight games in, Vancouver is already on the outside looking in, sitting in fifth place in the Pacific Division. With their latest loss to the Philadelphia Flyers, Pettersson is sitting with a disappointing point total with just four points through his first eight games, tallying only one goal in the process.

Elias Pettersson, Vancouver Canucks
Elias Pettersson, Vancouver Canucks (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

The positive side is, this is not the Pettersson fans are used to throughout his career, and at some point, the points will come. Through his first three seasons, Pettersson averaged 0.93 points-per-game (PPG), where as he is averaging just .50 PPG so far this year. He also has averaged nearly 22 goals-per-game (GPG) which only indicates that his totals will eventually go up. Once things start to click for him, Vancouver’s record will certainly be affected in a positive manor.

Pettersson has Chemistry With Linemates

Going back to last season, Pettersson missed the final 30 games with a wrist injury, as well as the majority of training camp while negotiating a new contract, so there hasn’t been a ton of time for him to get acclimated and build chemistry with his linemates. While he started the season playing with Miller and Brock Boeser, Pettersson has been “relegated” to the third line with Nils Hoglander and Justin Bailey in an attempt by head coach Travis Green to spread the wealth throughout.

Related: Canucks Need to Find Roster Room for Justin Bailey

If Pettersson is to stay with Bailey and Hoglander for an extended period of time, he’ll have to be the driving force between the three of them. Hoglander has just three assists through first eight games, while Bailey has gone pointless through two. However, if Pettersson is reunited with Brock Boeser and Miller, the trio could re-kindle their past magic, which saw Pettersson put up a career high 66 points in 68 games back in the 2019-20 season. That was also the year that saw Vancouver make it to the second-round of the postseason in the bubble.

Pettersson has Other Areas to Contribute to

Every player gets into a funk at one point or another, whether it’s for a short or long stretch. Having it happen right out of the gate just amplifies the noise from the outside. When the points aren’t adding up, Pettersson needs to find other areas to contribute to on the ice.

Look at some of the players around the league who are known for being extremely valuable players, even when they’re not scoring. Alexander Ovechkin has led the league in hits in previous seasons, and while yes, he’s an eight-time Rocket Richard winner, he also doesn’t hesitate to sacrifice his body. Phillip Danault had just one goal in 22 games throughout the Montreal Canadiens’ entire Stanley Cup playoff run this past year, but shut down the top line of nearly every opponent to get there. While Patrice Bergeron is normally filling the scoresheet, even when he isn’t he’s one of the best centres in the game, not to mention defensive forwards in the NHL.

Elias Pettersson Vancouver Canucks
Vancouver Canucks Elias Pettersson (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)

The Canucks organization, along with its fans, know that this season hasn’t gotten off to an ideal start. But there are some positives that have come from it: Garland has been a great fit so far, Miller has picked up right where he left off, and Quinn Hughes is proving to be worth every penny of his new contract. But Pettersson is the driving force that will push the Canucks to another level, and hopefully in a better position in the standings too.

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