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May 18, 2022

Canucks eliminated from playoff contention due to poor start, injuries

Canucks eliminated from playoff contention due to poor start, injuries

The Vancouver Canucks failed to make the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the second consecutive season. 

Vancouver (39-30-11) was eliminated from contention Tuesday when the Dallas Stars defeated the Vegas Golden Knights 3-2 in a shootout. 

The Canucks have not qualified for the playoffs in six of the past seven seasons. They advanced to the 2020 Western Conference Second Round, a seven-game loss to the Golden Knights. 

Here is a look at what happened in the 2021-22 season for the Canucks and why things could be better next season.

The skinnyPotential unrestricted free agents: Alex Chiasson, F; Nic Petan, F; Brad Richardson, F; Brad Hunt, D; Jaroslav Halak, G 

Potential restricted free agents: Brock Boeser, F; Juho Lammikko, F; William Lockwood, F; Matthew Highmore; F; Jack Rathbone, D

Potential 2022 Draft picks: Six

What went wrong Poor start: An 8-15-2 beginning to the season led to the Canucks firing coach Travis Green on Dec. 5, when they were 28th in the NHL in goals per game (2.36) and last on the penalty kill (64.6 percent). They won seven straight games under Bruce Boudreau following the coaching change but were not able to sustain that success.

Injuries: The Canucks have lost 438 man-games to injury this season and have been without forwards Bo Horvat (five games), Tanner Pearson (eight), Nils Hoglander (19), and defenseman Tucker Poolman (nine), during their playoff drive. Forward Brandon Sutter, one of their best defensive players, has not played all season because of COVID-19 complications. Forward Brock Boeser recently missed five games with an arm injury.

Failure to get extra points: The Canucks are 7-11 in games decided after regulation (3-4 in the shootout, 4-7 in overtime). They missed out on critical points that could have been the difference in qualifying and not qualifying for the playoffs.

Reasons for optimism Core locked up: Forward Elias Pettersson is signed for the next two seasons, goalie Thatcher Demko for four, and defenseman Quinn Hughes for five, giving the Canucks three players to build around. Pettersson, 23, has scored 66 points (32 goals, 34 assists) in 78 games; Hughes, 22, has scored 66 points (eight goals, 58 assists) in 74 games; Demko, 26, is 33-22-7 in 64 games (61 starts). 

Boudreau full season as coach: The Canucks are 31-15-9 (.645 points percentage) since Boudreau took over and third on the power play (26.8 percent). It’s clear Boudreau has made an impact after guiding teams to the postseason in 10 of his 13 seasons as an NHL coach prior to this one, including his first season with each of the previous three he coached (Minnesota Wild, Anaheim Ducks, Washington Capitals).

J.T. Miller: The 29-year-old forward is having the best season of his 10-season NHL career. He’s three points from 100 with 97 points (31 goals, 66 assists) in 78 games, has set NHL career bests in goals, assists, points, power-play points (37) and overtime goals (three), and his six game-winning goals are tied for his career high set with the New York Rangers in 2016-17. Miller plays all situations, leading Vancouver forwards in shorthanded (2:05) and power-play (3:20) ice time per game and has won 53.6 percent of his face-offs.

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