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

Federal government actions hurt Sooke hatchery fundraising efforts

Funding denial comes on the heels of fishing closures

Stop work order at Sooke salmon hatchery devastates volunteers

CRD steps in as some volunteers give up their efforts

Oak Bay researcher’s Canadian English dictionary goes to print

How an unknown American hobbyist sparked a Canadian dictionary

Jesse Roper learns to create fire in the wild, in Sacred Knowledge web series

Ragnarock Studios production shares primitive skills with Islanders

Island athlete goes from hoop dreams to icy track

Cyrus Gray hopes to punch his ticket to Olympics in bobsleigh

Police release photos of suspect in daytime sex assault at Vancouver woman’s home

A young woman, in hers 20s, was followed home by the man, before he violently attacked her inside

Raptors beat Bucks 100-94 to advance to franchise’s first-ever NBA Finals

Leonard has 27 points, 17 boards to lead Toronto past Milwaukee

Third person charged in death of B.C. teen Bhavkiran Dhesi

Inderdeep Kaur Deo facing charge of accessory after the fact to murder

SOOKE HISTORY: Pemberton Pool namesake remains a mystery

Historian believes it was possibly named after surveyor Joseph Despard Pemberton

Kamloops girl, 9, recovering from carbon monoxide poisoning now out of ICU

Her mother who was sleeping in the same tent with her did not survive

‘I think he’s still alive’: B.C. mom pleads for help finding son last seen a month ago

Family offering $5,000 reward for information leading to the safe return of Tim Delahaye

New poll suggests one-third don’t want politicians to wear religious symbols

Local politicians shouldn’t be allowed to wear hijabs, crucifixes or turbans on the job, survey suggests

Raptors fans far from home adjust plans to watch pivotal playoff game

Raptors currently lead the playoff series 3-2, and a win Saturday would vault them into NBA finals

PHOTOS: First responders in Fernie rescue baby owl who fell from nest

The baby owl’s inability to fly back to its nest prompted a rescue by first responders

Most Read