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Canucks’ minimal movement in standings illustrates just how difficult their task is

As good as the Canucks have been over the past month, making the playoffs this season will be a long, slow grind.
boudreau and walker behind canucks bench darryl dyck cp
Coaches Bruce Boudreau and Scott Walker behind Tyler Motte, Bo Horvat, Tanner Pearson, and Vasily Podkolzin on the Vancouver Canucks bench.

It has been a stunning reversal of fortune for the Vancouver Canucks. 

Just one month ago, the Canucks were in disarray. During a lopsided loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins in which they gave up 22 shots in the second period alone, Rogers Arena was rocked by a cascade of boos, chants to fire the general manager and the head coach, and the metaphorical thunderclap of a jersey thrown on the ice. As a result, Jim Benning and John Weisbrod were fired from the Canucks’ front office and Travis Green and Nolan Baumgartner were dismissed from their duties behind the Canucks’ bench.

Ever since those sweeping changes, it’s been nothing but good times for the Canucks. Under new head coach Bruce Boudreau, the Canucks have gone 8-0-1, a nine-game point streak that has seen a resurgence in optimism and positivity amongst both the players and the fanbase.

The Canucks look like an all-new team, full of confidence and swagger. It’s enough to make people believe that this team might actually make the playoffs despite their dreadful start to the season.

Just look at how far they’ve come already. At the time of the coaching change, the Canucks were dead last in the Pacific Division. Nine games later, after picking up 17 of a possible 18 points, the Canucks have moved all the way up to second-last in the Pacific Division.

Wait, that can't be right.

It is?


It’s true. Even with their terrific run, the Canucks have only passed one team in the Pacific: the free-falling Seattle Kraken, who have lost 8 of their last 10 games. The rest of their division has managed to stay ahead of the Canucks, at least for now.

That's not to downplay what the Canucks have accomplished. They've moved from nine points out of a playoff spot a month ago to just three points out. The playoffs have gone from a pipe dream to a legitimate possibility.

It does, however, underscore how difficult a task lies ahead of the Canucks. They’ve won all but one game that they’ve played for a month but they still have four teams in between themselves and a playoff position and all of those teams have games in hand on the Canucks.

The team is well aware of the hard road ahead, even as they try to avoid paying too much attention to the standings.

“I think we're tired of saying, ‘We played good, but it wasn't enough.’ We needed two points tonight,” said J.T. Miller after one narrow overtime win during their streak. “We understand that we're creeping back in this right now. There's tons of belief and I don't think this room would have been satisfied with anything other than two points.”

The issue isn’t just the points the Canucks need to make up but the teams they need to pass in the standings. The Canucks can’t count on the near-perfect record they’ve put together over the past month to continue indefinitely — expecting Thatcher Demko to maintain his .955 save percentage during the streak might be asking a bit much — but they still need to gradually reel in the rest of the Pacific Division. 

Their best hope is Boudreau’s “win the week” mantra.

“If you say ‘Hey, we have to win 12 in a row,’ that's a pretty daunting task, so I try to stay away from the big things and try to make it all more palatable,” said Boudreau when he was initially hired. “If you gain one point a week — one point a week — that doesn't seem as hard as saying you’ve got to be 12 games above .500.”

The Canucks can definitely do it. At this point, gaining one point in the standings every week would put them in line not just for the playoffs but for home-ice advantage. But don't be alarmed if it's much more of a slow slog up the standings instead of the glamorous thrill ride of the last month.