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After a nice January — the disastrous losses in Florida proving to be outliers — the Canucks were 7-9-2 in February and March, leaving them in a tenuous spot in the playoff chase.

When the season was halted March 12, they were tied on points with the Nashville Predators for the final spot in the Western Conference playoffs. On point percentage, they were seventh.

No matter how you slice it, they were barely in a post-season position and were showing cracks in their game at the worst time possible.

This is all to say that while the process has been ugly so far this season, the position they’re in, on the bubble of the playoffs, isn’t all that surprising.

This team can score. But its defence has been dreadful and the goaltending needs to be even better to have any hope at the playoffs.

The Canucks’ Lotto Line of Elias Pettersson, J.T. Miller and Brock Boeser (left to right) was one of the NHL’s most dominant trios last season. They’ve been anything but in 2021, suffering numerous defensive breakdowns. Photo by Arlen Redekop /PNG files


The fact that Elias Pettersson and J.T. Miller started this season in a funk was a huge problem.

The Lotto Line was one of the league’s most dominant trios last season. They controlled play at a rate practically unmatched by anyone across the league.

You wouldn’t know it by watching them over the first quarter of this season.

Miller has put up points, but his two-way play has been atrocious. Pettersson hasn’t been a defensive disaster, but he hasn’t had much spark on offence.

You can’t help but wonder how the duo feels about how the off-season went for the Canucks; Pettersson was a fan of what Tyler Toffoli brought to the team in 2019-20, star goalie Jacob Markstrom was something of a big brother for him in learning the ins and outs of North American professional hockey life, Chris Tanev was a fatherly figure to the youngest Canucks and Troy Stecher had grown into a good friend.


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