Yeah, I’m Thinking Pettersson Is Back

By: Brayden Fengler / February 27, 2022  

“Yeah, I’m thinking I’m back.” Elias Pettersson has been the human embodiment of that John Wick quote for the last few weeks, thankfully though no dogs were harmed in whatever catalyst event seems to have jolted Petey back to form.

The question though still remains, does he now have the momentum necessary to maintain this improved form or are these past few weeks just a string of hot hand moments that will soon be accompanied by another cold snap?

Listen, What I Meant Was…

I would be lying if I said that I hadn’t lost faith in Pettersson this year. In a recent piece I said that I don’t believe Petey is a bust of a player or has actually fallen off the wagon completely, but what I did believe is that Pettersson would remain a shadow of himself for the rest of the season. I thought that it would only be after a distraction-less summer off that Petey would be able to rejig his game and return to the 2022/23 season as the Pettersson that we all know and love.

Well like any great player, it’s dangerous to write them off too soon, EP40 has shown in recent games that he may not be ready to throw in the towel on the 2021/22 season just yet. He’s been connecting on shots that earlier in the season he would’ve flubbed or missed, and he’s once again popping up on the opposing team’s radar as someone who demands extra attention from their defence.

My recent opinions on Pettersson may not have put my foot in my mouth just yet. But with Petey’s seemingly robust return in recent weeks, I’m at the very least seated to the table, just waiting for the leathery meal to be served.

How Has He Improved

Pettersson now has 53 out of a full 82 games under his belt this season. In Pettersson’s first 30 games with the club this year, he was by no means a point per game player, but rather he was a .5 points per game player, producing just 15 points throughout his initial 30 contests with the Canucks.

His shooting percentage was also an extremely poor 8.8% compared to his shooting percentage over his last 24 games where he has that stat at 26.2%.

In the initial 30 game time span, he spent 100 minutes of ice time on the power play for the team. However, as no Canucks’ fan will soon forget, his contribution on the power play was ultimately non-existent, producing only eight points for his team while on the power play during that stretch.

Another wrinkle to Petey’s powerplay performance was that only three of those points were goals. It’s hard to believe that in 30 games played Pettersson could only produce three powerplay goals, but that was the miserable existence that we were all living in during the early months of the season.

Pettersson’s early-season numbers are now made out to be extra shocking due to the fact that Petey’s recent improvement has allowed him to earn two powerplay goals over his last three games played, and a total of four power-play points in the same time span.

That’s right, in Pettersson’s last three games he has nearly reached his power-play goal total that he earned in his first 30 games of the season. He’s also halfway to his overall power-play points total that he earned in the first 30 games. If that doesn’t scream improvement I don’t know what does.

Pettersson is making it hard for people to doubt him. He’s had a few good games here and there throughout his darker periods this year, but what he hasn’t done is remain consistent. Pettersson has not been able to ride any wave of success that he’s had earlier in the year, he’s always come crashing back down.

Again, anything can happen, and his newfound wave could certainly crest before the season is over, but right now he’s been riding it steadily for over 20 games.

Pettersson is now just a hair away from being a point-per-game player over the course of his most recent 24 games. These 24 games in question consist of every game immediately following his first 30 on the season. Petterson has 23 points to his name in the 24 game stretch, with 11 assists and 12 goals.

He’s had solid performances night after night, like his outing on February 8th against Arizona where he earned both an assist and a goal for his club, or his recent performance in San Jose, where he produced two helpers for the team, and maintained a +2 plus-minus stat on the night. 

What should really highlight that Pettersson is back though, is that he is now still playing amazing, even when the team itself may be faltering on a given night.

In the Canuck’s recent extremely disappointing 7-4 loss to the Anaheim Ducks, although that game was an untenable travesty, the Canucks did put up four goals of their own, and on three of those goals, Pettersson was involved, earning two helpers and one goal. 

For a moment in the second period after Petterson’s goal, the Canucks were almost back in that game, and on another night perhaps they could’ve got a few bounces going their way and the outcome may have been different.

That’s what a player like Pettersson has been and should continue to do, give his team a fighting chance, even when the odds appear immensely stacked against them. That’s the power of an elite player, and Pettersson has been showing that he’s still in that category.

How Does The Future Look for Pettersson

Have Petterson’s recent performances taken him completely off the media hot seat in terms of his every move being analyzed and overanalyzed? Probably not, but at the very least, Petey himself has cranked down the heat a bit. Unfortunately, Petey was playing below expected for the Canucks for basically half of this NHL season.

Even if he goes lights out from now until the end of the year, this first part of the season is still gonna be itching at the back of everyone’s minds when they look to project how he will perform in the future.

Once Petey gets going, I would worry about betting against him. He’s a guy that has always needed a long runway to get his game on track after a slow period, but once he’s got his form back, he tends not to slow down mid-stride.

I also think that his current compete level will continue into next season too, as that was my original anticipated timeline for a Petey bounce back. There are no longer any behind-the-scenes clouds that will be hanging over his head this off-season, like the contract situation from last year.

He also won’t be missing training camp like he did to start this season, and the overall fate of this franchise, although very much in flux, is less in question than it has been in recent years, which can only help to put a franchise player’s mind more at ease. 

Heading into the far future though, I don’t think it will ever again be unreasonable to be legitimately worried about Pettersson if he ever begins to slow down again. Everyone has slumps from time to time but Petey seems to break out of his at a glacial pace.

There may be situations in the future which thrust him back into similar slumps, and when that happens any worrying by fans and media will be warranted.

That wouldn’t have been a reasonable mindset before this season, but after his slump, this year and considering the ones he’s had before, worrying if EP40 will bounce back or not, may forever remain a part of the dialogue around him. Let’s just hope that he proves everyone wrong, as he has with me in recent weeks.