- Despite currently sitting fourth in the Western Conference, Vancouver has lost four of its last five
- Canucks have not made the playoffs since losing in the first round during the 2014-15 season
- Read below to find out if you should be choosing Vancouver to win the Pacific Division
Off to their hottest start in years, the Vancouver Canucks have their fans believing again. The team, led by the likes of Elias Pettersson, Bo Horvat and Brock Boeser, is riding high in the Western Conference, currently sitting in fourth place.
On top of that, the Canucks are also firmly in the race for the Pacific Division, currently third behind the Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames. As a result, Vancouver has seen its Pacific Division odds improve dramatically, dropping from as much as +1400 on October 23 to its current +450 perch, behind only the Vegas Golden Knights.
Odds to Win 2019-20 Pacific Division
|Vegas Golden Knights||+100|
|San Jose Sharks||+2800|
|Los Angeles Kings||+20000|
*Odds taken November 9
The 2019-20 edition of the Vancouver Canucks is no slouch offensively. The team has scored 57 goals so far, tied with Calgary for sixth most in the NHL.
Entering tonight, the @Canucks have 4 players with at least 6 goals so far in 2019-20 (J.T. Miller- 7, Brock Boeser- 7, Elias Pettersson- 6, Bo Horvat- 6). It's the 1st time a VAN team's had that many through the first 16 games of a season since 1993-94
— StatsCentre (@StatsCentre) November 8, 2019
In Pettersson (20-years-old) and Boeser (22), Vancouver has two of the top-20 scorers in the league and both are only going to get better over the coming months and years.
Pettersson, in particular, has the potential to lift the Canucks to new heights. The young Swede and reigning Calder Trophy winner as last year’s rookie of the year is rapidly becoming an NHL superstar. With 21 points in 17 games thus far, he is on pace to obliterate the 66 points he put up last year.
Elias Pettersson is a genius pic.twitter.com/sno7YXjBl3
— Harman Dayal (@harmandayal2) November 8, 2019
But it’s his rapidly evolving two-way play that has head coach Travis Green most excited. Centering a line featuring Boeser and J.T. Miller, Petterson has improved dramatically from his first year in the NHL. Consequently, his line’s control of the shots taken during his shifts has gone up from 49.5% in his rookie year to 62% this year, while its share of the scoring chances when he’s on the ice is now at 60%, up from 46% last season.
But while the offense draws much of the plaudits, much of Vancouver’s success this year is down to its play in its own end. The Canucks are giving up an average of 2.59 goals per game, a rate that has them ranked seventh in the NHL.
That defensive discipline keeps them in most games, with the team getting outstanding play from its goaltending tandem. Thatcher Demko has posted four wins and Jacob Markstrom has won five starts, and the ability of each to maintain their form through to the end of the season will have a big say in whether Vancouver can compete for the Pacific Division crown.
Markstrom stacks the pads to stone Toews pic.twitter.com/94Xh3UwiO5
— GoatWorldSports (@GoatWorldSport1) November 8, 2019
And with the team in front of them currently ranked fourth in the NHL in Corsi percentage at 52.68, Vancouver’s ability to generate more shots than they surrender should keep the team’s winning percentage ticking over.
One of Vancouver’s advantages this season has been the health of its roster, particularly its top stars. Obviously a significant injury to the likes of Petterrson, Miller or Boeser will have a knock-on effect to the team’s ability to compete for the division crown, but the same goes for the teams the Canucks are competing with.
An injury to either Connor McDavid or Leon Draisaitl would leave Edmonton’s chances in tatters, while the Flames are reliant on the scoring abilities of Matthew Tkachuk and Johnny Gaudreau. It’s a similar story for Vegas and Arizona, for whom Marc-Andre Fleury and Darcy Kuemper lead the league in wins and save percentage, respectively.
I severely underestimate the Vancouver Canucks in the summer. I don't know if they'll keep this up but I do know that they're earning good results right now. pic.twitter.com/S0NatpO5WH
— Sean Tierney (@ChartingHockey) November 9, 2019
The ability to stay healthy, which it has succeeded at so far, will go a long way to aid Vancouver’s chances of claiming the Pacific. The division is very much a crapshoot, but Vancouver is a solid choice.
The Pick: Canucks (+450)
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