Brayden Fengler / April 22, 2022
I come to you now, as a humble man, a humble man asking for your forgiveness and your understanding. I was wrong, so, very wrong.
In September of 2021, well ahead of this season’s first puck drop I wrote an article for this very site, entitled No Doubt. The Canucks Will Make the Playoffs This Year. Why, why did I have to add the “No Doubt” in front of that title? It added so little then and hurts all the more now.
What Went Right
In the above-mentioned
article embarrassment I had high hopes for Podkolzin to burst out onto the scene this year, and I anticipated a significant defensive bounce-back for Quinn Hughes. Both points, as it turns out, actually did come to fruition.
Vasily Podkolzin’s production for the Canucks this season ended up being very respectable. He didn’t burst on to the scene like an Elias Pettersson or a Brock Boeser in their inaugural year, but his 25 points in 75 games, showed that he is in fact an NHL caliber hockey player and one that has potential to grow beyond what he’s demonstrated in his first major NHL campaign.
His .33 points per game percentage at the very least puts him slightly above last year’s prized rookie in Nils Hoglander, who finished his season with the Canucks with a .30 points per game record.
As mentioned, Quinn Hughes of course had himself a much improved season as well, specifically in terms of his defensive game. Last year there was no way to sugarcoat it, his defence was awful. The Canucks simply did not have the overall defensive strength to afford Hughes to not be strong at that aspect of his game, and he was extremely weak last season.
But at the end of last season, he acknowledged as much, that his defensive game was lacking, and planned to strengthen that aspect of his game ahead of the 2021-22 campaign. And strengthen it he did. Last season Hughes was 5th on the team in giveaways per 60 minutes averaging 2.81.
This season however Hughes has significantly fallen down that leaderboard, currently sitting 17th on the team with a respectable 1.29. Hughes +/- stat also sits at a +7 this year, in contrast to his -17 +/- stat last season, which made him the team’s worst, in that category.
What Went Wrong
What went wrong? Well, this article will be 10 times as long if I get into everything, but specifically what I got wrong in my estimation is how big of an impact the Oliver Ekman-Larsson/ Conor Garland trade would have on this team. I and many Canucks fans weren’t high on OEL or his contract from the start, but what I put a lot of stock in was the addition of Conor Garland.
Benning and I clearly saw eye to eye on this one as I thought Garland may have been the missing piece that this Canucks team needed in order for them to spread out scoring throughout their lineup.
Garland did have a strong start to his season, he sat third on the team in overall points, and led the team in even-strength points in that time frame as well. However, Garland cooled off for whatever reason shortly after the addition of current Canucks head coach Bruce Boudreau.
Despite him cooling off, It was clear from the start of the season that Garland was not the last piece to this puzzle, in fact, he was a great addition, but Benning had missed a bigger part of the picture that to this day still remains to be unsolved.
We’ll Get ‘Em Next Year
There were many more reasons why the Canucks didn’t make the playoffs, many more things that went right and wrong this season, but the wound is still fresh right now, we’ll get into that at a later date. Right now, this article is meant to serve as a “yeah… I know, laugh it up” type of piece.
The Canucks kept me hopeful for longer than I thought this season, there were even stretches of time when I thought that perhaps that article wouldn’t age poorly after all, and for that at least, I am thankful.
Do I go out on a limb in this very article, and say that the Canucks will “no doubt” make the playoffs next year? I feel like I’ve learned my lesson, that’s a bad idea… But like all bad ideas, there’s something about them that’s hard to resist. Yeah baby, the Canucks will no doubt make the playoffs next year! You have my word, and we all know it’s worth something… right.
Also, STLnote19 on Reddit… I owe you a beer.