Monday Mailbag: Determining if the Canucks suck again, their biggest “sweep threats” come playoffs, and more

Photo credit:Matthew Henderson
Cody Severtson
3 months ago
The Vancouver Canucks hit their first speed bump on this current nine-game homestand through March.
After rattling off three-straight victories on the road against Anaheim, Los Angeles, and Vegas, the club returned home for their best performance of the season, a 5-0 shutout victory against Winnipeg before two stinkers against the Avalanche and Capitals.
The sky is falling.
Cancel the parade plans.
The Canucks have been and always will be a loser franchise with a choke-artist, undersized Swede leading the team in points.
At least, that’s how some of the fanbase wants you to think about this team.
We didn’t get too many questions for this week’s Mailbag, so this will mostly be stream-of-conscious word-vomit surrounding the few questions we received.
I remember last year when the Canucks were so deeply out of playoff contention that they’d rattle off these victories against playoff contenders, and the fanbase would lose their minds that a wildcard spot was within reach. It was during those dog days of March that playoff teams would ease their feet off the gas against the lowly Vancouver Canucks. Akito Hirose convinced the fanbase that he was the second coming of Chris Tanev because of his unremarkable, boring playstyle. On Sunday, Hirose just picked up his first point of the AHL season after 23 games played.
Cole McWard was considered a 1st-pairing RD option for Quinn Hughes after scoring a goal and having a moderately impressive run during garbage time and training camp.
Coaches want their players’ foot on the gas for all 82 games; they want their players to earn their victories, play to the system, and work hard while maintaining effective practice habits. Unfortunately, keeping that pace and drive is tough when a club takes a commanding 10+ point lead over the second-best teams in the Pacific Division as early as November. Would it be nice if a team did? Heck, the Boston Bruins thought so last year when they racked up 135 points. It didn’t feel so nice when they emptied their tank in the regular season, saving nothing for the first round of the 2022-23 Stanley Cup Playoffs!
All this is to say, the results have been frustrating, but the team is controlling play at 5-on-5, not getting the bounces, struggling on the power play, struggling on the penalty kill, and yet, they still sit with an eight-point cushion over the surging second-place Edmonton Oilers.
Since All-Star weekend, the Vancouver Canucks rank 21st by all-situations shooting percentage and 23rd by all-situations save percentage. They aren’t riding the same level of PDO (shooting % + save %) bender that they were to start the season. But they’re still controlling play very well. They just can’t score.
Only three teams—Vegas, New Jersey, and Columbus — have had worse shooting percentage luck than Vancouver since the All-Star break.
The only aspect of Vancouver’s performance of late that mirrors the start of early last season is their penalty kill, which is legitimately a concern. Since the ASG, Vancouver has had the fourth-worst save percentage on the PK. Only Dallas, Ottawa, and Anaheim have worse save percentages than Vancouver while shorthanded—not exactly good company from the Canucks’ perspective.
Overall, I can’t believe I’m the one saying it, but I wouldn’t sweat this dip in results.
But seriously, pump the brakes. The best teams in the NHL find a second gear come playoff time. The last time this team got a shot at the playoffs, Elias Pettersson scored at a point-per-game pace, and Thatcher Demko stonewalled the Golden Knights so hard that they broke mentally against the Dallas Stars in subsequent rounds. Don’t let a shooting percentage regression convince you that Pettersson sucks at hockey and isn’t a big game player. The guy won the SHL playoff MVP award for being exactly that.
Besides, finishing 2nd in the Western Conference isn’t the worst thing in the world!
The Vegas Golden Knights hold the second wild card spot with a five-point cushion over the Minnesota Wild with one game in hand.
Call me crazy, but Vegas, to me, is a sleeping giant—the one team from the West that could probably sweep the Canucks in the first round. I bet the Canucks themselves don’t want to see a team that gets Tomas Hertl and Mark Stone in the first round.
Nashville? Meh, they’re full of piss & vinegar, but I like the Canucks’ odds of winning out in a seven-game dogfight.
Minnesota? Too old, and I like the Canucks’ odds of winning out in a seven-game dogfight.
Edmonton? Sorry, but I just don’t buy that a team with Stuart Skinner and Calvin Pickard between the pipes can sweep anyone.
Ironically, Los Angeles probably has the second-best chance to sweep Vancouver. But they’d have to lose games and see Vegas surge into third place in the Pacific.
That being said, I like the Canucks’ odds of a playoff series against 36-year-old Cam Talbot, who is nearing 50 starts in the regular season. A seven-game dogfight? Probably. A sweep? Maybe, but a lot has to go wrong for Vancouver for that to happen, in my opinion.
Speaking of a lot going wrong!
What is Abbotsford’s record on first and second nights of a back-to-back?
This stat is legitimately mind-blowing and explains my sardonic tone in the Farmies game recap series.
This season, the club has played 24 back-to-backs, 48 games total.
In the first leg, the club’s record is 8-15-1-0, good for 17 points and a .354 point percentage. However, the club has been outscored 85 to 59 in those games, a minus-26 goal differential.
In the second leg of a back-to-back, the club has an 18-4-2-0 record for 38 points and a .792 points percentage. The club has outscored their opposition in these games by a whopping 96 to 59, a plus-37 goal differential. Three of the club’s four shutouts (all from Arturs Silovs) came on the second leg of a back-to-back.
It’s night and day.
For series where the club has a day or more between games, the club sports a 5-4-1-2 record for a .542 points percentage. The club traded even in goalscoring in those 12 games, 36 to 36.
Whatever’s being said by Jeremy Colliton after those first-leg losses clearly pays off for the second.
Abbotsford’s final 12 games of the season are all back-to-backs.
Aatu Räty update
Following the Abbotsford Canucks embarrassing 7-3 defeat to the 8th-placed Henderson Silver Knights on Saturday, I pointed out in the Farmies how Aatu Räty had quietly gone seven games without a single point.
Maybe Räty’s an avid reader, perhaps the coaching staff told him to step it up, or maybe someone from management sent him a screenshot of the Farmies and asked him if he was okay.
Who’s to say?
Whatever happened behind the scenes paid off in a major way on Sunday night.
Räty set a franchise record with the “most points recorded by a single player in the first period” with his two goals and two assists against the Silver Knights en route to a crushing 8-3 defeat.
I know what you’re thinking. Yes, I’m obviously the jinx. Every game I recap is a dud loss. Every game recap I skip is a highlight reel slobber knocker where every prospect justifies their position on the depth chart.
Aside from the four-point game, I’m still not entirely sold on Räty’s NHL potential. The wheels still aren’t there, and while he clearly has the smarts, his lack of motor will define whether or not he makes it to the NHL full time.
Think of it this way, Linus Karlsson has shown a motor and skating capable of providing adequate fill-in duty at the NHL level. Karlsson produces like mad at the AHL level at 5-on-5 and on the power play, but even with his motor at the AHL level, he’s still lacking that extra OOMPH to stick at the NHL level.
Age is still on his side, so there’s no need to fret just yet. However, anyone pencilling him in as this club’s fourth-line center next season is setting themselves up for disappointment. The 21-year-old forward has had a fine season, but his engagement level and frequent inability to break a game on his own, especially during Abbotsford’s 2024 doldrums, is somewhat concerning.
At 5-on-5, the Abbotsford Canucks have outscored their opposition 29 to 26 with Räty on the ice.
If you want to avoid word-vomit mailbags, please send us questions for next week’s Monday Mailbag in the comment section!

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