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Pettersson still had wrist taped at start of season: ‘I feel like that’s going to cause more headlines’

He may as well have double-dog-dared the media to put his quote in a headline.
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Elias Pettersson didn't play a game for the Vancouver Canucks for eight months after a wrist injury last season.

Call it a self-fulfilling prophecy.

After another two-point night for Elias Pettersson, the Swedish centre was asked about what might have changed for him during the season. Pettersson started the season slowly but, in recent weeks, has been racking up points.

“Coming into the season it was a little weird. I still had my wrist taped,” said Pettersson, then he paused and had a moment of realization. “I feel like that's gonna cause more headlines.”

He wasn’t wrong. Coming into the season, Pettersson was insistent that he was at 100%, with no ill effects from the wrist injury that ended his 2020-21 season. It was an injury that he described as “like trying to shoot with a knife in my wrist.”

If his wrist was still taped at the start of the season, that suggests that “100%” might have been a bit of an exaggeration. It's hard to avoid looking back at the start of the season and replaying every flubbed shot and mishandled deke with that information in mind. 

Of course, there are other factors that played into his slow start, such as missing training camp while former Canucks general manager negotiated a new contract with his agent.

“I mean, I played 26 games last year,” said Pettersson. “Didn't play a game for, I don't know, eight months or something. So, it definitely was a slow start for me. It took me way longer than I wanted this season but I feel now in the last couple of weeks, I've played like myself again.”

Playing more like himself doesn’t just mean that he’s putting up points, though he’s definitely doing that. Over his last 15 games, Pettersson has 8 goals and 17 points. He’s been particularly hot over the last week, with a whopping 7 points in his last 3 games.

Beyond the points, however, has been all the other little aspects of Pettersson’s game that make him such a special player. He’s been more physical, worked harder away from the puck, and made the smart defensive reads that typified his game when it was at its peak, such as this moment where he went to one knee to take away a passing lane in the neutral zone to break up a Sharks rush.

While he’s seen various linemates over the past month, he’s started to find some chemistry with the two youngest players on the team: Vasily Podkolzin and Nils Höglander.

“I feel like the more we play with each other, the better we get and the more we find each other,” said Pettersson. “They are two speedy forwards and they're creating a lot with their skill and with their speed, so it's easy to play with them. I think we still have a lot better in us. I think we're losing too many puck battles, etc. But it's definitely getting better and it's fun to play with them.”

The chemistry on the ice might be easier because they’ve found chemistry off the ice as well, particularly between Pettersson and Höglander.

“I spend the most time with Högs on the team now,” said Pettersson. “I mean, obviously, we both are Swedes, we both are young, so it's easy to just hang out with him.”

It was just a matter of time until Pettersson found his game again — players with his talent level don’t just forget how to play. While it would have been better for him to find his game earlier in the season, the fact that he’s playing this well now bodes well for the future. Hopefully, the start of the season can be a learning experience for the young Swede as he heads into the rest of his career.

For now, it’s enough that he’s enjoying the game again.

“I feel great, I think I'm creating a lot,” said Pettersson. “I feel like myself out there. I'm playing with fun. I'm playing with confidence.”