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

Three vehicle ‘sandwich’ crash delays traffic in Rutland

An accident at the McCurdy and Mayfair Road intersection was reported just before 4:30 p.m.

A BBQ thank you at Kelowna’s Gospel Mission

The ninth annual Well Done BBQ brought Kelowna together

Two West Kelowna residents were arrested for alleged drug trafficking

RCMP executed a search warrant at a Chieftain Road home

Two Kelowna sites rezoned for pot shops

Cannabis retailers closer to reality for Lawrence Avenue, St. Paul Street

Vernon senior feels trapped in long-term care facility

Rose-Marie Lepodvin says she wants assisted living, but feels trapped in long-term care

VIDEO: ‘Avengers: Endgame’ to be re-released with new footage

‘Avatar’ holds global box office record at $2.788 billion, while ‘Endgame’ stands at $2.743 billion…

B.C. teen killed by falling tree near Victoria

Second youth also injured in freak incident during field trip at Camp Barnard near Sooke

South Okanagan mountain resort sees lengthy snowfall

Snow stayed on the ground for four, says resort manager

Elias Pettersson wins Calder Trophy as NHL’s top rookie

Vancouver forward first Canuck to win award since Pavel Bure in 1992

FVRD chair calls B.C. incineration plan for Philippines waste ‘disturbing’

Metro Vancouver ‘uniquely capable’ of safely disposing of waste coming back to Canada, say officials

VIDEO: Acknowledging skeptics, finance minister vows to build Trans Mountain project

Bill Morneau said he recognizes ‘huge amount of anxiety’ in Calgary over future of oil and gas sector

Shovels could be in the ground on Trans Mountain by September, CEO says

Ian Anderson points to weeks likely required for NEB to reinstate 2016 regulatory record

Interior forestry workers ratify five-year contract

It was approved by United Steelworkers Local 1-417, which represents workers in Kamloops, Kelowna

Scorpion gives birth after hitching ride in B.C. woman’s luggage

A Vancouver woman inadvertently brought the animal home from a trip to Cuba

Most Read