Photo Credit: © Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

Current Canucks who have a history of stepping up their games in the postseason

We’re less than three weeks from the scheduled NHL restart, and it’s still a little unclear as to whether or not the eight impending play-in series truly count as “playoff games.”

On the one hand, stats accrued during the play-ins will be counted as official playoff statistics, and added to a player’s career numbers in that category.

On the other hand, a team playing in the play-ins hasn’t quite made the playoffs yet, at least as far as conditional draft picks are concerned — which is good news for any Vancouver fans still holding out hope for Alexis Lafrenière.

It’s all a little nebulous, but in the grand scheme of things, it won’t make much of a difference. The action on the ice during the eight series’, including the one between the Vancouver Canucks and the Minnesota Wild, will certainly resemble playoff hockey — even if it doesn’t officially qualify as such.

In fact, given the truncated nature of the play-ins — and the fact the losing team will have to go sit at home until 2021 — the “playoff atmosphere” that fans cherish should be heightened, if anything.

And with that in mind, it’s probably the perfect time to take a look at which members of the Canucks have traditionally managed to step their games up in the postseason — both at the NHL level and in their careers before making it to the bigs.

Some players manage to save their best hockey for the playoffs and, when it comes to the Canucks, these are those players.

Elias Pettersson

League Regular Season PPG Playoffs PPG Difference
SHL 1.23 1.47 +0.24

Pettersson capped off his record-setting and award-winning 2017/18 season in the SHL with a somehow even more impressive performance in the playoffs, his one-and-only postseason appearance thus far. Pettersson notched ten goals and 19 points in just 13 games, leading Vaxjo HC to the championship and winning playoff MVP honours.

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Expect the Canucks’ most dominant offensive player to retain that title in his NHL postseason debut.

Brock Boeser

League Regular Season PPG Playoffs PPG Difference
NCAA 1.27 2.00 +0.73

It’s difficult to track down exact playoff stats in the NCAA mostly because what exactly constitutes a college postseason game is a little nebulous, but Boeser played in five NCAA Tournament games during his time at the University of North Dakota, and put up ten points in them. Contrary to his reputation, those ten points consisted of eight assists and just two goals.

As a freshman, Boeser led UND to a Frozen Four win. His sophomore season ended early, but that just hurried up his Canucks debut, so few were complaining.

With Boeser coming into this impromptu training camp healthy for the first time in his career, the pieces are in place for his postseason excellence to continue.

Bo Horvat

League Regular Season PPG Playoffs PPG Difference
OHL 0.89 0.79 -0.10
NHL 0.62 0.67 +0.05

Horvat’s playoff resume is a bit misleading. Take away his 2012 OHL rookie performance of four points in 18 postseason games, and he actually scored more consistently for the London Knights in the playoffs than he did in the regular season — including a mesmerizing 16 goals in 21 games the following year.

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The fact that Horvat’s playoff PPG is higher than his regular season PPG at the NHL level is especially notable given that his only postseason action has come as a rookie. Vancouver fans will fondly remember the 2015 playoffs as the moment Horvat truly arrived on the NHL scene, tying for the team lead in scoring in a first round loss to the Calgary Flames.

Look for the Canucks’ captain to lead by example and on the scoresheet come August.

Tyler Myers

League Regular Season PPG Playoffs PPG Difference
WHL 0.40 0.64 +0.24
NHL 0.41 0.38 -0.03

Those fans located in the Okanagan were no doubt already well aware that Myers is a playoff beast, but it’s probably news for the rest of the fanbase. As a Kelowna Rocket, Myers typically saved his best hockey for the postseason — including, most notably, 20 points in 22 games in 2009 en route to the WHL championship and the playoff MVP award. The following season, Myers kept that roll going all the way into the big leagues and won himself a Calder Trophy.

At the NHL level, Myers hasn’t had quite the same rate of postseason success, but he does have two very strong performances on record — six points in seven games for the Buffalo Sabres in 2011 and seven points in 16 games for the Winnipeg Jets in 2018.

Sounds like Myers is a big game guy, in addition to just being a big guy in general.

Adam Gaudette

League Regular Season PPG Playoffs PPG Difference
NCAA 1.22 ???(1.06ish) ???

Again, you’ll have to pardon this author for their overall lack of understanding as to what exactly constitutes the NCAA postseason. It’s especially tough to figure out in Hockey-East, where Gaudette plied his trade, because their schedule is full of important tournaments throughout the year — like the Beanpot, in which Gaudette put up six points in 2018.

Whatever the case may be, it’s clear that Gaudette made a habit of stepping up when it counted for Northeastern. That’s probably where he picked up his proficiency for theatrical cellys.

Jacob Markstrom

League Regular Season SV% Playoffs SV% Difference
SHL .910 .921 +.011
AHL .931 .916 -.015

Markstrom will be returning to the Canucks’ crease when they take the ice for the play-ins, and fans should be grateful — with no slight intended against Thatcher Demko. Markstrom just happens to be a big game goalie, and that’s been true ever since he was a teenager dipping his toes into the SHL postseason. He never managed to go on any lengthy runs back in Sweden, but he consistently posted better numbers in the playoffs than he did in the regular season for Byrnas IF.

Though his AHL stats appear to take a dip when it comes to the postseason, take that info with a grain of salt. He’s only been to the Calder Cup Playoffs twice, and both times happened to coincide with two truly stellar regular seasons. Markstrom has still more than proven himself when it comes to North America playoff hockey, leading the Utica Comets to the finals in 2015 and putting himself back on the radar for an NHL job in the process.

A healthy and motivated Markstrom, who also happens to be playing for a contract, might be the last thing the Wild want to see waiting for them at the other end of the rink.

Josh Leivo

League Regular Season PPG Playoffs PPG Difference
OHL 0.91 1.27 +0.36
AHL 0.72 0.77 +0.05

Though Leivo is still on the LTIR with that broken kneecap, we’d be remiss if we didn’t make mention of his long-time reputation as a playoff stud. Way back in his OHL rookie season, Leivo went from 30 points in the regular season to 13 in just eight playoff games — and he hasn’t looked back since. Leivo’s postseason scoring clip was way higher than his regular season pace throughout his junior career.

Then, while a member of the Toronto organization, Leivo was one of the Marlies’ most consistent threats through several years of postseason contention.

That he’s not able to join the Canucks for his first taste of Stanley Cup Playoffs action in August is just one more reason to be upset at Nick Holden — and the NHL for not disciplining him.

How Many Canucks Have Gone All The Way?

Three Vancouver Canucks have their name on the Stanley Cup. Tanner Pearson and Tyler Toffoli won one together for the LA Kings in 2014, and Jay Beagle won with the Washington Capitals in 2018.

Beagle also won back-to-back Calder Cups with the Hershey Bears and a Kelly Cup with the Idaho Steelheads of the ECHL.

As was previously mentioned, Elias Pettersson won the SHL championship with Vaxjo before joining the Canucks. Oscar Fantenberg also has an SHL championship on his resume.

Brock Boeser and Troy Stecher won the Frozen Four with UND together, and Stecher also won an RBC Cup with the Penticton Vees in 2012. Tyler Motte also won a Frozen Four for the University of Michigan.

Tyler Myers won a WHL championship with the Kelowna Rockets, but did not win a Memorial Cup. Ashton Sautner did, however, for the Edmonton Oil Kings.