There are some things up in the air as the Canucks Playoffs begin

It’s an exciting time to be one Vancouver Canucks fan. After more than ten years of darkness, the light has started to shine. People proudly walk the streets of Vancouver wearing Canucks gear, car flags are flying again, And the city is buzzing. After a regular season that exceeded expectations, the Pacific Division champions of the 2024 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs will make their first playoff game in front of their fans in nine years. In Canucks fashion is the Nashville Predators. No opponent may be included light And while the Canucks should win this series, hockey is not played on paper. Here are three Canucks questions heading into their first-round matchup against Nashville.

Three Canucks Questions No. 1: Will the real Elias Pettersson please stand up?

Of all three Canucks questions, this seems to be the biggest. First from everyonethis must are addressed: Elias Pettersson did not have a bad season. Yes, he hasn’t reached the 100 point plateau And yes, there have been games where he looked complete invisible. This especially applies to the second half of the season. Since the All-Star break Pettersson was held pointless in 16 of 33 games as TSN’s Farhan Lalji stated on Donnie & Dhali: The Team on Friday. In his last 10 games he has four assists, but only one goal.

But Pettersson finished the regular season with 34 goals and 55 assists, good for 89 points. That was third on the Canucks and 19th overall in the NHL. That’s not bad at all. Even the underlying numbers show that Pettersson has been one of the best all-around players in the NHL this past season.

It’s safe to say that Pettersson hasn’t looked like himself in recent months. He has been hesitant to shoot the puck, especially on the power play. There are times when he bobbles and loses the puck at. However, Pettersson has maintained a solid defensive game and even showed his physical side.

But during the playoffs, teams need their star players to shine. Pettersson is one of the faces of the franchise And the Canucks need him to take over games, just as he has done many times in the past.

The last time the Canucks were in the playoffs, Pettersson was 21. In 17 playoff games in 2020, Pettersson had 18 points. Yes, those were different circumstances. It was in the Edmonton, Alberta bubble with no fans And there was a qualifying round, expanding the play-offs to 24 teams. (You could argue that the qualifying round did not count as play-offs.) But those play-offs were the proof that Pettersson could rise to the big occasion And He has become a better player since then.

It’s also worth noting that Pettersson did that 10 winning goals this season And that put him tied for fifth in the NHL. The players connected with him were Kyle Connor of the Winnipeg Jets and Sebastian Aho of the Carolina Hurricanes.

The playoffs are a perfect time for Pettersson to wake up from his slumber.

Three Canucks Questions No. 2: Will the regular season scoring depth continue?

One of the best things about the regular season for the Canucks was their depth or secondary scoring.

Brock Boeser led the way with 40 goals, followed by JT Miller’s 37 and Pettersson’s 34. Even Quinn Hughes got in on the scoring action as he lit the lamp 17 times.

But the player with the fourth highest goals is Nils Höglander And he has 24. The 23-year-old has found a home in the top six And That is impressive considering he spent most of last season in the AHL.

Conor Garland topped the 20-goal mark for the second time in his career and the first as a Canuck. Bee At Christmas he had three goals And since then, only Miller and Pettersson have scored more goals according to to Thomas Dance of The Athletic. Garland has also scored the second-most goals on the Canucks since the All-Star Break with 12. Only Miller has more of 16. He has found chemistry with Dakota Joshua and Teddy Blauwger and more recently Joshua and Elias Lindholm.

Speaking of Joshua, he has set a career-high with 18 goals and is on the verge of one big increase in summer. He’s the type of player built for the playoffs. Joshua is physical, brings tenacity and perseverance, can get under the skin of an opponent and can score.

Garland, Joshua and Höglander must carry their regular season scores into the play-offs. It will be interesting to see how they approach the playoffs.

Lindholm has been massively disappointing since being acquired in the big trade from the Calgary Flames on January 31. While great in the faceoff circle, on the penalty kill and in the defensive zone, Lindholm has been lacking offensively, as he has six goals and six assists in 26 games since coming to Vancouver.

The Canucks don’t need Lindholm to be the 40-goal scorer he was two years agobut she I need him to contribute offensively and continue his solid defensive play. He is a player we can rely on heavily in the play-offs. He also seems to have come alive offensively, as he has four points from his last five games. (Note: He missed time between March 23 and April 10 due to injury. The March 23 game against Calgary was his last before returning for the final four games of the regular season.) Maybe this could be the start of better things attacking him. .

Ilya Mikheyev, Sam Lafferty and Pius Suter scored double figures in the regular season, 11, 13 and 14 respectively. Earlier in the season, however, each of them saw themselves on par with an in-form Pettersson And That assisted. Mikheev has had only one goal since Christmas while Lafferty has four. But Suter has scored eight times since then which is more than half of his goals. These three players are also known for their defensive work And if they scored Also be a enormous help for the play-offs.

Three Canucks Questions No. 3: Will the special teams be special?

The Canucks power play finished 11th in the NHL at 22.7% while their penalty kill finished 17th with 79.1%.

The man advantage was clear before the All-Star break And it was 25% and eighth in the league. Since the All-Star break, the power play was at 18.8%, ranking 24th in the NHL.

Even with the Lindholm acquisition, the power play seemed lackluster. There was a lot of passing and not enough shooting And It watched rather predictable and static.

The penalty kill dropped from 13th in the NHL before the All-Star break at 79.7% to 16th at 77.5%. It’s not one big to take off And the PK had an up and down season. In certain games it looked fantasticother time It looked vulnerable, especially against playoff teams.

The special teams have been inconsistent all season And the play-offs are a good time for improvement. The Predators’ power play finished the regular season 16th And their penalty kill finished 22nd. Regular season numbers don’t mean much when it comes to the playoffs But there is an opportunity for the Canucks to light a spark on their special teams.

The power play focuses on movement and shooting. In the penalty kill, gaining possession of the ball and clearing it as quickly as possible is a recipe for success. Alsothat Thatcher Demko is back between the pipes and helping healthily.

Bring on the play-offs!

Canucks fans are excited about the playoffs, but there is also fear. That’s because the team has never won the Stanley Cup, despite being close. Nevertheless, it is Awesome to hold playoff hockey in Vancouver.

Main photo: Simon Fearn-USA TODAY Sports

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