It’s official: the Vancouver Canucks will not make the playoffs in 2023.
That’s been unofficially known for months of course, given the Canucks’ dreadful first half that put them realistically out of postseason contention by January.
But on Sunday night, a 4-1 loss at home to the Los Angeles Kings mathematically eliminated Vancouver. The Canucks are 14 points back of the Winnipeg Jets for the last playoff spot in the Western Conference, with only six games left.
This is the third year in a row that the Canucks have failed to make the postseason, and the seventh time in eight years that the Stanley Cup Playoffs won’t include Vancouver. Since this run of futility began in 2015-16, only four NHL teams have lost more regular season games than Vancouver — Arizona, Detroit, Buffalo, and Ottawa.
When it comes to making the playoffs, Vancouver is currently in the midst of the worst eight-year run in franchise history. Never before has a Canucks team missed the playoffs in seven of eight seasons, with only the expansion-era Canucks of the 1970s coming close — they missed the postseason in six of their first eight years (1970-71 to 1977-78).
The franchise record for most consecutive seasons missing the playoffs is four, achieved three times before, during the expansion era (1970-71 to 1973-74), Messier era (1996-97 to 1999-2000), and Benning era (2015-16 to 2018-2019). If the Canucks fail to make the playoffs next season, not only will it tie that embarrassing mark, it’ll guarantee at least 10 years between playoff games at Rogers Arena.
Canucks fans haven’t seen a playoff game in their home arena in eight years, as their 2020 postseason run took place in Edmonton due to the pandemic. That’s the third-longest current streak in the NHL, with fans of the Arizona Coyotes (2012) and Buffalo Sabres (2011) having waited longer.
This has probably been the most disappointing season in Vancouver since 2015. The Canucks entered training camp with the playoffs as an expectation, with former head coach Bruce Boudreau saying it would be a “big disaster” if they were to miss them.
The team identified having a good start as being vital this season. Instead, they lost their first seven games and had Canucks fans throwing jerseys on the ice by October.
“This season has been difficult for all of us, but especially for you, our fans. We had expectations going into this season that were not met. All of us share in your frustration,” Canucks president of hockey operations Jim Rutherford said in a letter to season ticket members last week.
“This team needs to get better, and we will get better.
“I came to Vancouver 15 months ago with a plan to build this team into a legitimate contender, one that can ultimately compete for the Stanley Cup. Even though this season did not go as we hoped, our vision for this team has not changed.”
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