Canucks Report: Vancouver set for February grind

Schedule features 14 games in 27 nights

Vancouver Canucks’ Elias Pettersson lies injured on the ice after colliding with Montreal Canadiens’ Jesperi Kotkaniemi, not shown, during second period NHL hockey action in Montreal, Thursday, Jan. 3, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes

The well-rested Vancouver Canucks are ready to resume their playoff quest.

After a nine-day layoff while the NHL staged its annual all-star festivities, the Canucks enter February in the thick of the chase for a post-season berth (hands up if you thought this would be the case in October).

After an 8-5-1 record in December moved them back to the .500 mark, Vancouver went 4-3-2 in January, leaving them at 23-22-6, good for 52 points – tied with the Colorado Avalanche, who currently hold down the final Western Conference playoff spot (with a game in hand on the Canucks). The two teams clash Saturday in Denver.

By the numbers

Team record: 23-22-6 (12-10-3 home, 11-12-3 road) 52 points (4th, Pacific Division, 19th overall); GF: 147 (19th overall); GA: 161 (20th overall); PP: 16.8% (21st overall); PK: 79.2% (19th overall)

On Jan. 1: 19-19-4 (9-9-1 home, 10-10-3 away) 42 points (5th, Pacific Division, 18th overall); GF: 124 (14th overall); GA: 133 (26th overall); PP: 17.8% (20th overall); PK: 77.8% (21st overall)

On Dec. 1: 11-14-3 (5-5-1 home, 6-9-2 away) 25 points (6th, Pacific Division; 24th overall); GF: 81 (13th overall); GA: 100 (30th overall); PP: 18.9% (19th overall); PK: 76.2% (25th overall)

On Nov. 1: 8-6-0 (4-2-0 home, 4-4-0 away) 16 points (1st, Pacific Division; 7th overall); GF: 40 (9th overall); GA: 44 (27th overall); PP: 17.0% (20th overall); PK:83.3% (9th overall).

Leading scorers (through Feb. 1)

Elias Pettersson (40 GP, 23-22-45), Bo Horvat (51 GP, 18-23-41), Brock Boeser (38 GP, 16-18-34), Nikolay Goldobin (44 GP, 5-18-23), Loui Eriksson (51 GP, 9-11-20). Goalies: Jacob Markstrom (37 GP, 19-13-5, 2.84 GAA, .908 save percentage), Thatcher Demko (1 GP, 1-0-0, 3.00 GAA, .923 save percentage)

On Jan. 1: Pettersson (36 GP, 19-20-39), Horvat (42 GP, 17-18-35), Boeser (29 GP, 14-12-26), Goldobin (41 GP, 5-18-23), Jake Virtanen (42 GP, 11-7-18). Goalies: Markstrom (29 GP, 16-10-3, 2.80 GAA, .910 save percentage), Anders Nilsson (12 GP, 3-8-1, 3.09 GAA, .895 save percentage). NOTE: Nilsson was traded to Ottawa.

On Dec. 1: Horvat (28 GP, 11-13-24), Pettersson (22 GP, 13-9-22), Goldobin (28 GP, 4-12-16), Boeser (15 GP; 6-7-13), Virtanen (28 GP, 8-4-12). Goalies: Markstrom (20 GP, 8-9-3, 3.31 GAA, .897 save percentage), Nilsson (7 GP, 3-4-0, 2.86 GAA, .902 save percentage).

On Nov. 1: Pettersson (8 GP, 7-3-10), Horvat (14 GP, 7-3-10), Virtanen (14 GP, 5-2-7), Boeser (12 GP, 2-5-7). Goalies: Markstrom (8 GP, 5-3-0, 2.96 GAA, .911 save percentage), Nilsson (6 GP, 3-3-0, 2.67 GAA, .912 save percentage).

Fun number

(Three time champ!) Forward Tim Schaller has now played 34 games and has yet to record his first goal as a Canuck.

Player of the month

Tough to pick out a head-and-shoulders standout for January. Pettersson had six points in five games and appeared in the league’s all-star game. But the nod here goes to Boeser, who had eight points, appearing in all nine January games. Stick tap to Chris Tanev.

Best goal

A sweet dangle from Derrick Pouliot sets up Sven Baertschi for the easy tap-in.

Biggest surprise

Not as much of a surprise as the pleasant culmination of much fan anticipation, Demko, who battled concussion problems earlier in the year, made a stellar debut, making 36 saves in his season debut Jan. 18, a 4-3 win over the Buffalo Sabres.

Biggest disappointment

Schaller could win every month, but the January ‘honour’ goes to Goldobin, who got into just three games, didn’t score a point and was minus-4 for the month. Sideways glance to Virtanen, who had just one assist in nine January games and is currently 13-game goalless streak.

Best win

Demko’s win over the Sabres edges a 5-1 thrashing of the Florida Panthers on Jan. 13.

Worst loss

A two-for-one special here, with shutout losses to Montreal (Jan. 3) and Toronto (Jan. 5) the low point of the month.

Best fight

An epic tilt between Erik Gudbranson and Florida’s Michael Haley lasted nearly a minute.

Injury update

With Pettersson back from a knee injury suffered against the Habs and the lengthy all-star break, the Canucks are a healthy group heading into the stretch run.

On the farm

Vancouver’s American Hockey League affiliate, the Utica Comets, had a strong January, going 6-2-1-1 and moving into third spot in the league’s North Division. Veteran Reid Boucher ( 19-22-41) continues to lead the scoring parade, with Tanner Kero (16-23-39) earning a brief callup to the big club, though he didn’t appear in a game. Brandon Gaunce has 25 points in 30 games with the Comets.

Coming this month

The Canucks have a jam-packed February schedule, with 14 games in 27 days. Seven of the first nine are on the road, and will go a long way to determining Vancouver’s playoff chances. On Feb. 2, Vancouver meets the Avalanche, followed by visits to Philadelphia (Feb. 4), Washington (Feb. 5) and Chicago (Feb. 7). The Canucks return home to play Calgary (Feb. 9) and San Jose (Feb. 11) before a three-games-in-four nights California road swing (Anaheim, Feb. 13, L.A., Feb. 14 and San Jose, Feb. 16). Three home games (Arizona, Feb. 21, New York Islanders, Feb. 23 and Anaheim, Feb. 25) are followed by away games in Colorado (Feb. 27) and Arizona (Feb. 28) to wrap up the busy month.

RELATED: Canucks December report

Extended Canucks coverage here

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Vancouver Island Free Daily editor Philip Wolf can be reached via email at philip.wolf@blackpress.ca or on Twitter @philipwolf13

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