After a terrible first 15 games of the season, the Canucks have looked a lot better over the past five. Their next six mean a whole lot for any playoff hopes

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The Vancouver Canucks are 20 games into their season.

That’s a sample size that tells us a great deal about where the Canucks have really been this season, and some of those numbers let us project forward on how things are likely to go.

Here are seven numbers that add up to give us an idea of where things are at and where they might be going.


According to, the Canucks currently hold a 17 per cent chance of making the playoffs. It’s not impossible, but still very unlikely.

That said, you can see the path: They need a big winning streak to haul back some of the ground they gave away in the first month of the season, and with four games against the Jets and a pair against the Oilers upcoming, there’s a huge opportunity to reel off a series of season-correcting wins.

Then they face the Maple Leafs and Canadiens in a pair of back-to-back sets, games that could further define this season.


At even strength, the Canucks have taken 48 per cent of the shot attempts in their 20 games so far. In general, the teams that get more than 50 per cent of the shots win more often than not.

The fact they’ve been able to tighten up their shot rate does give the Canucks some hope going forward.

Still, 20 games is a solid sample and while their best players are carrying the load more and more, there were lots of worrying signs in the early going that could return to haunt them.


The Canucks’ PDO is 98.9. It’s been shown in the past that PDO — a simple addition of shooting percentage and save percentage — does tend to regress towards 100.0.

It’s understood to be a measure of luck, with a small dose of talent mixed in. That is, teams with great goaltending and average shooting would sit a little above 100.0, while a team with bad goaltending and average shooting would sit a little below.

The Canucks’ number is mostly driven by the fact they’ve posted the league’s third-worst save percentage on the season.

Thatcher Demko and Braden Holtby’s start to the season was so poor that their recent run of good form has only pushed their even-strength save percentage up to third worst in the NHL, to 89.7.

This is all to say that if the Canucks’ goaltending duo do continue to play well, combined with the Canucks’ improved defensive play in front of them, they’re going to be in with a chance nearly every night from here on out.


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The Canucks dominated the Flames over the recent four-game series. In terms of shot attempts and shot quality, the Canucks ran at 55 per cent rate in both categories.

In other words, they took more shots and better shots.

That’s a really good sign for the Canucks in the big picture, as the Flames are a team they’re going to have to continue to match up well against if there’s going to be an actual playoff push.


The Canucks may have been taking better shots of late, but their expected-goals percentage on the season still sits at 47.4 per cent, meaning the opposition overall has taken better-quality shots.

Natural Stat Trick’s expected goals model isn’t perfect, since it lacks data on what the game state was when the shot was taken — is the goalie moving? Is the shot screened? How did the puck get to the shooting position? — but it’s still a decent measure because it’s looking at shooting percentages from the location of the shot using data that covers more than a decade.

The Flames are struggling to generate offence. The Canucks’ next opponents, the Jets and the Oilers, are much more formidable on offence, and shot quality will be a very interesting metric to track in the coming six games.

EDMONTON, AB - JANUARY 13: Brock Boeser #6 of the Vancouver Canucks skates against the Edmonton Oilers at Rogers Place on January 13, 2021 in Edmonton, Canada. (Photo by Codie McLachlan/Getty Images) ORG XMIT: 775607945 [PNG Merlin Archive]
Canucks winger Brock Boeser, with 12 goals, has been a quiet, bright light for the team all season, even while his linemates were initially struggling. Photo by Codie McLachlan /Getty Images files


Brock Boeser is the Canucks’ leading scorer, and that’s a really good thing.

He’s been a quiet, bright light for the team all season, even while his linemates were struggling.

Boeser hasn’t had consistent health or success like this since his rookie season. Knock on wood this all carries on for him.


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All this said, he’s also scoring on an outrageous 21.8 per cent of his shots at the moment, eight points higher than his career shooting percentage. He’s likely going to have a “cold” stretch at some point.


The Canucks currently only have five skaters — Boeser, Nils Höglander, Bo Horvat, Alex Edler and Quinn Hughes — posting shot-attempts-for percentages of greater than 50 per cent.

The good news is Elias Pettersson has reversed his early-season struggles and is now at 49.9 per cent and rising. Having the top two lines be over 50 per cent will be a very good thing for the Canucks.

But the bad news is there are simply too many other players lingering well below 50 per cent. And those players are on the third and fourth lines, where the Canucks can least afford to be bleeding goals.

The non-Pettersson, non-Horvat lines really need to find a way to battle to stalemate for the Canucks to have any sustained success this year.

Quite simply, the team needs more from the likes of Jake Virtanen, Adam Gaudette and Antoine Roussel.

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