The Canucks’ fantastic start to season has been fun to watch.
When you have three players sitting atop the points table and a fourth leading the league in goals, you know things are going well.
Of course, this run of good form has had some luck to it.
And as you may have heard, the Canucks have been riding a wave of shooting success, one that’s well above what’s realistic in the long term.
A week ago, the Canucks were scoring on 15 per cent of their shots at five on five. The best teams in a given season usually settle at about 10 per cent.
In other words, this run of shooting success was always going to fall back to earth.
As of Friday morning, the Canucks’ five on five shooting percentage had fallen to 11.2 per cent, no longer even tops in the NHL. This is on the back of a slide in five on five scoring — they have just four goals at five on five in the four games they’ve played since Saturday, with three goals coming in Sunday’s 5-2 win over the Montreal Canadiens alone.
Going forward, for the Canucks to keep finding success, they’re going to have to keep battling for their chances — and making sure their power play remains lethal.
Projecting to the playoffs
As it stands, the Canucks have 25 points. The usual playoff bar is understood to be 95 points.
So to get 70 points in the remaining 65 games of the season, the Canucks need the equivalent of 35 wins.
That would be a .538 points percentage, a totally reasonable pace to expect from the Canucks.
That’s a slower pace than they managed overall in 2021-22, when Bruce Boudreau replaced Travis Green as head coach midseason and found a way to put pedal to metal in the second half.
The Canucks finished with 92 points that season.
The way the Flames went hard after Elias Pettersson Thursday night was very suggestive that the secret is out: the Canucks’ superstar centre is dealing with some kind of injury. Might it be his back? He hasn’t looked comfortable shooting in the last couple weeks, looking off multiple shots on what feels like a nightly basis.
And there was the shift late in the second that concluded with a Flames goal by Noah Hanifin; Pettersson was involved in a collision off-camera along the side boards and was very gingerly in his movements for the rest of the shift.
If he’s got a back issue, did he ding it up there?
If he is injured, that makes his league-leading points pace all the more remarkable.
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