Canucks’ centre, Bo Horvat (right) celebrates at Rogers Arena Sunday afternoon with Canucks’ winger, Brock Boeser (Photo via @Canucks/Twitter)

Vancouver Canucks, western rivals locked in battle for playoff spots

Vancouver (23-21-6) sits just outside a playoff position with 52 points over 50 games

This season was supposed to be a rebuilding year for the fresh-faced Vancouver Canucks.

But heading into this weekend’s all-star break, the team is firmly entrenched in a battle for the playoffs in the tightly bunched Western Conference.

READ MORE: Pettersson returns to lead Canucks to 3-2 win over Red Wings

“Every game is huge right now,” said Canucks goalie Jacob Markstrom as his team geared up for Wednesday’s contest against the visiting Carolina Hurricanes.

“(The playoff race is) so tight and this is when most teams make an impression, try to run away with it. The spots are becoming less and less and I feel like every day there’s another team that’s getting involved in the race. So every point in every game right now is super important.”

With 52 points over 50 games, Vancouver (23-21-6) sat just outside of a playoff position heading into Tuesday’s action. They were tied for points with the Dallas Stars and Colorado Avalanche — who held the two wild-card berths — but had played one more game.

Competition is fierce in the Western Conference, where six points separate those currently in playoff position from the 13th-place St. Louis Blues.

Streaky play has marbled the seasons of many clubs, including the Anaheim Ducks, who snapped a 12-game losing skid last week. Despite the slump, the Ducks are a single point behind the Canucks.

Bo Horvat knows exactly where Vancouver sits in the standings.

“I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t paying attention to it,” said the 23-year-old centre. ”We want to make the playoffs, we want to be in the race and play meaningful games towards the end of the season.”

The Canucks haven’t made it to the post-season since 2015, when they lost in the first round to the Calgary Flames. Last season, they finished second-last in the west with 31-40-11 record.

Things feel a little different this year, Horvat said.

“I don’t think we were in this position last year going into the all-star break,” he said. “We’re in a playoff hunt and for us to play meaningful games right now and for us to be in it is exciting. And I think all the guys know that.”

Making a run at the post-season has been the goal all year, said Ben Hutton.

“We knew we were a good team. We knew we were capable of doing great things,” said the defenceman. “At the start of the season we said ‘Let’s make playoffs.’ And we’re right in the hunt now. It’s a good spot to be.”

The group has every reason to believe in their ability to keep playing late into April, said coach Travis Green.

“They’ve put themselves in a spot to have the belief, where in November it was hard,” he said. ”We slipped a little bit. And as players, that’s hard.”

The squad won just three of 14 at one point, taking nine points across a four-week stretch in November. A playoff race seemed unlikely at the time.

Gemma Karstens-Smith, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Interior Savings looks to hand out bursaries

Applications open until Feb. 28

Get ready to fill the stands at the Special Olympics Winter Games in Vernon

The festivities get underway Thursday with the opening ceremony

Vernon to see sunny skies for Family Day

Sunny but cool as Environment Canada calls for wind chill of -9 C Sunday, -13 C Monday

SilverStar Emergency Services Day raises funds for hospital

Over $20,000 was raised for the Vernon Jubilee Hospital Foundation

Vernon art gallery turns out the lights and throws a party

DJ, drinks and food at Art After Dark Feb. 23

Okanagan College professor awarded for promoting financial literacy

Leigh Sindlinger received a Distinguished Service Award for inspiring financial literacy in youth

Poll: What do you think of Family Day weekend’s move?

Until this year, Family Day has fallen on the second Monday in February

B.C. athlete takes home gold in freestyle aerials at Canada Games

Brayden Kuroda won the event with a combined score of 121.65.

Cabinet likely to extend deadline to reconsider Trans Mountain pipeline

New round of consultations with Indigenous communities is coming

B.C. government provides $75,000 towards salmon study

Study looks at abundance and health of Pacific salmon in Gulf of Alaska

Murdered and missing honoured at Stolen Sisters Memorial March in B.C.

‘We come together to make change within the systems in our society’

UBC researchers develop inexpensive tool to test drinking water

The tricoder can test for biological contamination in real-time

Disgraced ex-Congressman Anthony Weiner released from prison

He was convicted of having illicit online contact with a 15-year-old North Carolina girl in 2017

Most Read