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

Back in Time

Historical Perspective

Tipping fees change at TNRD Eco-Depots and Transfer Stations

Users can expect to pay less for discarding major appliances like residential fridges and freezers

Charitable group seeks new members

100 People Who Care raise $1,350 for local food bank

VIDEO: Tributes flow on 10th anniversary of Michael Jackson’s death

Jackson received a fatal dose of the anesthetic propofol on June 25, 2009. He died at age 50

WATCH: Killer whale has the final catch in North Coast waters

Fishing duel sees salmon stolen by eager orca in Prince Rupert waters

40 cats, kittens surrendered in apparent animal hoarding at Vancouver home

Officers found the cats living among piles of garbage and feces, suffering from fleas

Vancouver Aquarium drops cetacean ban lawsuit in new lease agreement

Ocean Wise CEO Lasse Gustavsson called the updated lease an exciting new chapter for the aquarium

Thieves steal two $40K chairs featuring gold serpents from Vancouver furniture store

Chairs believed to be the only two of its kind in Canada, police said

Poll: Rising gas prices force B.C. residents rethink summer road trips

63 per cent of respondents reported gas prices are impacting their day-to-day finances

PHOTO: Moose cow and calf relax in Williams Lake flower garden

The homeowners got a surprise when they checked their most recent surveillance footage

Two in hospital after plane crashes in Okanagan Lake

RCMP say wheels left down caused landing plane to overturn on lake

The world’s Indigenous speakers gather in B.C.’s capital to revitalize languages

Organizers estimate about 1,000 delegates from 20 countries will be at the conference

Most Read