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Canucks' Elias Pettersson: 'I've been playing on a bad knee since January'

Elias Pettersson was indeed playing through an injury during the end of the regular season and playoffs.
Elias Pettersson confirmed on Thursday that he was dealing with a knee injury through the end of the regular season and in the playoffs.

It seemed clear toward the end of the regular season and into the Stanley Cup Playoffs that Elias Pettersson was playing through some sort of injury. The Vancouver Canucks' franchise forward had 34 goals and 89 points during the regular season but his offence dried up in the playoffs.

Pettersson scored just one goal and tallied five assists in 13 playoff games. Too often, he wasn't a factor in the results of games and, when he was, it was sometimes on the wrong end of those results. There was a gingerness to his skating and often he seemed to be sweeping the puck with his shot, rather than leaning his weight into the puck, leading to pucks either missing the net or finding a piece of the goaltenders' equipment.

As is typical of hockey players, Pettersson made no excuses as the playoffs went on; a lot of players are going through something once May comes around and they rarely admit to an injury in the media. That's both because no one likes a complainer and because no one wants to give their opponents something to target.

But, with the playoffs over, Pettersson was finally able to admit that yes, he's been playing through an injury.

"I have been playing with a bad knee since January," said Pettersson. "It's been like a nagging injury, so the longer it went, the more pain I felt."

Pettersson had an outstanding January, scoring 14 goals in 13 games and adding 7 assists for a total of 21 points. He was named the NHL's third star for the month of January and it seemed like he was claiming his place as one of the best players in the league.

After January, however, his production tailed off, particularly his goalscoring. He had just two goals in February, four in March, and one in April. 

Now we know why.

According to Pettersson, it's not an injury that will require any sort of drastic intervention.

"It just needs time — time to heal, time to rest," said Pettersson.

Even if it wasn't the playoffs that Pettersson wanted, the experience lit a fire under the centre, who said he knows he can be better and, "I know what I need to work on."

"Definitely has made me hungrier to get back into the playoffs," said Pettersson. "We have something good building here."

The only question remaining is why Pettersson kept playing through the injury instead of taking time to rest during the season. To be fair, he said the injury felt worse the longer it went on, so it may not have seemed necessary to take time off until it was too late to do so.

There's also the factor that Pettersson was playing for a new contract; it's tough to take time off with that uncertainty hanging over you.

Canucks head coach Rick Tocchet identified the issue was tendinitis but that the team didn't feel resting Pettersson was necessary.

"We worked with the doctors and the trainers and we felt he could keep going," said Tocchet. "So no, we didn't feel like we had to shut him down."