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

Oregon couple’s stolen truck located at Deep Creek, boat still missing

Jim and Kathy Jantz are thankful for the help they have received so far in Williams Lake

Quesnel Fall Fair celebrates 100+ years

This year’s fair will celebrate a Friday night opening for the first time

Quesnel group looking into developing a co-housing complex

An information session will take place Oct. 2 at the Quesnel Library

Celebrating Barkerville’s Chinese heritage

Barkerville Historic Town and Park hosted its annual Chinese Mid-Autumn Moon Festival Aug. 17

U.S. couple ‘devastated’ truck and boat stolen in Williams Lake overnight

Family from Oregon appealing for assistance to help find stolen items

Trudeau vows to stand firm against ‘increasingly assertive’ China

China has accused Canada of meddling in its affairs

B.C. man tells judge he attempted suicide a month before daughters’ murders

Andrew Berry takes stand in his defense for December 2017 deaths of young daughters

‘Plenty of time for a deal’: Teachers’ union expects kids back in school on Sept. 3

BCTF says class size, composition at the heart of the issue

Province funds new shuttle buses for 13 B.C. senior centres

Activity, socializing helps maintain health, Adrian Dix says

Thermal imaging cameras eye Salish Sea in hopes of better detecting whales

Cameras installed at BC Ferries’ terminal on Galiano Island, and off southern Gulf Islands

BREAKING: Province approves Surrey police force

Minister of Public Safety Mike Farnworth green-lights city’s municipal police force

Police watchdog investigating two officers after Langley teen’s suspected overdose

According to IIO, two officers were deployed to help Carson Crimeni but did not locate him before he died

B.C. father tells judge he did not kill his young daughters

Andrew Berry pleaded not guilty to the December 2017 deaths

UPDATED: Kelly Ellard gets day parole extended for six more months, overnight leave

Kelly Ellard was convicted of killing 14-year-old Reena Virk in 1997

Most Read