A look back at the last time the Vancouver Canucks clinched a playoff spot

Photo credit:© Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports
Stephan Roget
17 days ago
How good are the 2023/24 Vancouver Canucks?
So good that on Saturday, they clinched a spot in the 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs without even having to lift a finger.
In the end, it was the St. Louis Blues dropping a somewhat surprising 4-0 decision to the San Jose Sharks that did it, eliminating the Blues’ chances of catching the Canucks in the standings and thus making the Canucks’ playoff appearance official.
And, boy, has it been a while.
The last time the Canucks appeared in the postseason was, of course, 2020. But those were the Bubble Playoffs, and they didn’t play out like any set of playoffs before or after.
The Canucks’ final game of that regular season was a March 10, 2020 shootout victory over the New York Islanders. By that point, the COVID-19 pandemic had kicked off in earnest in North America, and all of Vancouver’s remaining 13 regular season games would be canceled.
At the pause, the Canucks were just barely in a playoff position. They were in fourth place in the Pacific Division and tied with the Nashville Predators for the final wildcard spot in the West.
But it didn’t really matter. In the end, the Canucks “clinched” a playoff spot by beating the Minnesota Wild in a best-of-five play-in series before moving on to face the Blues in the “real” Round One.
So, to find the last time the Canucks actually clinched a playoff position, we’ve got to go all the way back to the last time they participated in an ordinary playoff schedule, and that’s all the way back to the 2014/15 season.
The World of 2015
The last time the Canucks’ clinched a playoff spot, Stephen Harper was the Prime Minister, and Christy Clark was still the Premier. Barack Obama was on his second term as US President.
“Uptown Funk” and “Shake It Off” were at the top of the musical charts.
Furious 7 and Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 were dominating the box office.
Better Call Saul was only a few episodes in.
The iPad Pro had just been introduced. TikTok was still more than a year away from debuting.
The world, you could say, was a very different place in April of 2015.
The 2014/15 NHL Season
This was the 98th season in NHL history, and featured 30 teams, with the Vegas Golden Knights and Seattle Kraken not even having been conceived of quite yet.
The New York Rangers won the President’s Trophy. Jamie Benn won the Art Ross. Carey Price won the Hart.
And, as unfortunate as it feels to bring it up, the Chicago Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup, with Duncan Keith taking home the Conn Smythe.
The 2014/15 Vancouver Canucks
The Canucks started up their 2014 offseason with the firing of Mike Gillis and the hiring of Jim Benning as General Manager. That was followed shortly thereafter with the firing of John Tortorella and the hiring of Willie Desjardins as head coach.
The 2014/15 campaign would wind up being the only playoff appearance, aside from 2020, under the Benning Regime.
The Canucks finished with a 48-29-5 record, good for second in the Pacific and fifth in the Western Conference. Those 101 points have yet to be equalled by the Canucks since, though they’re just three points off in 2023/24 as of this writing.
The Clinch
The moment at which the Canucks’ clinched in 2015 was similar to their clinch in 2024, in that it involved another team losing and no direct action from the Canucks.
It differed in coming a lot later in the schedule.
The 2014/15 Canucks officially clinched with a Los Angeles Kings loss on April 7, 2015. By then, the Canucks had just two games remaining on their own schedule – and they needed them, just to firm up home-ice advantage in the first round.
The 2014/15 Canucks Roster
The 2014/15 Canucks were also similar to the 2023/24 Canucks in that they featured a largely overhauled roster.
New GM Jim Benning got to work right away in the summer of 2014, starting with the big trade of Ryan Kesler (and a third) to Anaheim in exchange for Nick Bonino, Luca Sbisa, a first, and a third.
That same day, Benning dealt Jason Garrison and change to Tampa Bay for a second rounder and flipped the third acquired from Anaheim in exchange for Derek Dorsett.
Linden Vey was brought in for the Garrison second a day later.
Come July, free agents like Ryan Miller and Radim Vrbata were added to the mix.
In-season acquisitions included the unfortunate swapping of Gustav Forsling for Adam Clendening in January, and the acquisition of Sven Baertschi for a second at the Trade Deadline.
Of course, the most important arrival of all may have been the arrival of rookie Bo Horvat onto the scene. Horvat would cobble together 13 goals and 12 assists for 25 points in 68 games.
2014/15 Award Winners and Other Notables
The 2014/15 Canucks were led in scoring by Daniel Sedin’s 76 points in 82 games. Henrik was not too far behind with 73 points of his own.
The drop-off after them was considerable. Vrbata clocked in at 63 points of his own for third, and then fourth place went to Bonino with just 39 points.
The 2014/15 Canucks weren’t a one-man show. But they were a “one-set-of-DNA” show.
But it was Vrbata who would be picked out for the Cyclone Taylor Trophy as Team MVP. Vrbata also went home with the Pavel Bure Most Exciting Player Award.
In net, Miller split time fairly evenly with Eddie Lack, starting 45 games to Lack’s 41.
On the blueline, Chris Tanev won his one-and-only Walter “Babe” Pratt Trophy as the team’s top defenseman.
And it was offseason acquisition Dorsett who would win the Fred J. Hume Award as the team’s unsung hero. Dorsett was 11th in team scoring with 25 points and led the team in penalty minutes by more than double the next contender with 175.
The Results
All that excitement, and all it led to was a six-game, first round loss.
For finishing in second in the Pacific, the Canucks won a first round matchup with the third-place Calgary Flames.
The Canucks won Games 2 and 5, but the Flames won the rest, including a decisive 7-4 victory in Game 6.
The playoff scoring lead was a five-way tie, with Daniel, Henrik, Vrbata, Horvat, and Jannik Hansen each registering four points in six games.
Lack started the first four games, and then Miller took over, starting the final two.
And that was it.
It would be another five years before the Canucks would appear in another playoff game. And as for their next appearance in a regular, non-COVID-impacted playoff game, well that’s yet to happen. But as of this week, we know at least that it’s guaranteed to happen this year.
That will mark about eight years since the last time they clinched in April of 2015.

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