Vancouver Canucks general manager Jim Benning, right, and head coach Travis Green pause for a moment during a news conference at Rogers Arena in Vancouver on Monday, April 8, 2019. The Canucks finished their season this past weekend failing to make the 2019 playoffs. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

Vancouver Canucks general manager Jim Benning, right, and head coach Travis Green pause for a moment during a news conference at Rogers Arena in Vancouver on Monday, April 8, 2019. The Canucks finished their season this past weekend failing to make the 2019 playoffs. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

‘We’re going to be better next year’: Canucks look forward

Players, coaches say more must be done after four straight playoff misses

VANCOUVER — It’s been a season of growth for the Vancouver Canucks, but after finishing outside of the playoffs for the fourth year in a row, players and coaches feel there’s still work to be done.

Standout performances from young players like Elias Pettersson, Brock Boeser and Bo Horvat highlighted a season that saw the Canucks (35-36-11) finish fifth in the Pacific Division — up eight points from the end of last year, but still nine points out of a wild-card spot.

Despite a rash of injuries to the blue line, the team felt the playoffs were in reach for most of the season, coach Travis Green said at an end-of-season press conference on Monday.

But there’s no “magic formula” for closing the points gap and making the post-season.

“When you look at it, the simplest version is score more, allow less,” Green said. “We’re going to be better next year. I have no doubt about it. I thought we took a good step this year and we’ll take another one next year.”

A number of young players stepped up this season, posting career highs and taking on new roles. Those players are key to the team’s future, Green said.

“We’ve got young players that I believe you can win with,” he said. “We need to make sure that our young guys continue to become those guys that you win with. And I believe that they can.”

In his second full-year in the NHL, Boeser tallied 56 points (26 goals and 30 assists) over 69 games. Still, the 22-year-old winger feels like he’ll have more to give next season.

“I feel I’ve learned a lot throughout this whole year,” Boeser said. ”I’ve taken steps as a player. And I still personally think that I can take a huge step (next year).”

Pettersson dazzled from the very beginning, scoring on his first shot in his first NHL game.

His production slowed as the season continued, but the 20-year-old Swede still led the Canucks in scoring with 66 points (28 goals and 38 assists) in 71 games, breaking the franchise’s record for points by a rookie. He’ll be a top contender for the Calder Trophy as the NHL’s top rookie when the awards are handed out in March.

RELATED: Binnington boosts Blues to 3-2 shootout win over Canucks

Pettersson said he didn’t know exactly what to expect coming into the NHL. He knew the play would be tougher, the schedule more gruelling, and grew to learn the importance of taking care of his body between games.

“I started really good,” he said. “I wasn’t really happy with my (entire) season, but I started really good. I think as the season went on, teams started scouting me more and tried to put more focus on me. So I kind of had both the up of the season and the down of the season.”

Following the retirement of veterans Daniel and Henrik Sedin, Horvat grew into a pivotal leadership role with the Canucks. He was the only player to suit up for all 82 games and notched new career highs in goals (27), assists (34) and points (61).

While the 24-year-old centre sees a bright future for the team, he said the players also know what they need to work on come next fall.

“We want to find consistency in our game and not have those lulls,” Horvat said. ”Let’s go on a 10-game winning streak instead of 1-13. So I think to change that for next season, we can’t accept losing, can’t accept win some, lose some. Having consistency in our game is going to be huge.”

Vancouver remained within the playoff race until after the all-star break, but struggled to string together wins down the stretch and went 5-4-1 over its final 10 games.

The last 20 or so games of the season showed where the group needs to develop, said Jay Beagle.

“When it started to get to that playoff feel, when teams started to step it up, we didn’t. And you could see that. We kind of just flat lined. And that comes with maturity, that comes with playing in the league longer,” said Beagle, a veteran centre who signed with the Canucks as a free agent in July after spending his entire career with the Washington Capitals.

“But we’re not too far and that’s the encouraging thing, that’s the exciting thing.”

There’s a lot more optimism in the Canucks locker room as this season comes to a close than there’s been in previous years, said Brandon Sutter.

“I think there’s just a bit of a different energy with the youth on our team and the young players that have come in and kind of given us a bit of a new life,” said the veteran centre, who missed 56 games with injuries this season. “I think guys are just looking forward to what’s ahead.”

Fans, too, seem excited, especially after getting a glimpse in recent weeks of defensive prospect Quinn Hughes.

Drafted seventh overall by the Canucks last summer, the 19-year-old joined the club for the final five games of the year. His skill and speed were instantly apparent, and the teen said his teammates made him feel confident right away.

“I really enjoyed my time. I wish I had 30 more games to go but that’s just not the case. I’m just looking forward to next year,” Hughes said.

This summer, the young defenceman plans to spend a lot of time getting stronger in the weight room and faster on the ice. He’ll also suit up for Team USA at the world championship in Slovakia next month.

But first Hughes will head back to the University of Michigan to finish up his classes. He admits the change of pace will be odd after spending a month in the NHL.

“I’m sure it’ll be weird going back, walking around on campus,” he said with a grin.

Gemma Karstens-Smith, The Canadian Press

More Canucks coverage here

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter 

CanucksNHL

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Chilliwack is expected to be among the province’s hottest real estate markets in 2021. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick)
Chilliwack housing market projected to be among B.C.’s hottest in 2021

B.C. Real Estate Association projects Chilliwack and District to grow by 17.1 per cent

Eva Pucci Couture in this file shot from May 29, 2019, when she came to Chilliwack asking for the public’s help in locating her missing son, Kristofer Shawn Couture. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Missing man’s mom still hopeful, 2 years after his car was found abandoned at Chilliwack trail

‘I wish someone would come forward with insight into your whereabouts,’ pleads mom of missing man

Abbotsford tattoo artist Tanya Loewen has entered the Inked cover girl contest.
Abbotsford mother, tattoo artist enters Inked cover girl contest

Tanya Loewen, tattoo artist at Van Bree Tattoo, hoping to win big in magazine contest

District of Kent farmers brought truckloads of used plastic to the Schwichtenburg farm Oct. 26, 2018, for pickup by Kent Agricultural Plastics Recycling, a grassroots, farmer-initiated organization that collects and distributes used plastics for recycling. (Nina Grossman/The Observer)
Agassiz’s agricultural plastics program heading to the dump, unless province steps in

Kent Agricultural Plastics Recycling has nowhere to go, hopes B.C. will create a recycling program

Adam Suleman announced his intention to run in the Chilliwack school board byelection on Dec. 21, 2020. The byelection is set for Feb. 13, 2021. (Submitted)
VIDEO: Chilliwack byelection candidate focuses on mental health, bullying, COVID-19 safety

Adam Suleman: ‘If we address mental health we can address so many other issues at the same time’

Rose Sawka, 91, waves to her son through the window of a care home in Prince Rupert in October. Residents of the care home received their first vaccine dose Jan. 20. (K-J Millar/The Northern View)
B.C. care home visitor access to expand by March, Dix says

Staff, residents, essential visitors top priorities for vaccine

FILE – Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau delivers his opening remarks at a news conference outside Rideau cottage in Ottawa, Tuesday, January 19, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Vaccine CEO ‘very, very clear’ that Canada’s contracts will be honoured: Trudeau

Trudeau says he spoke to Moderna CEO on the morning of Jan. 26

Ben Tyler was working on a Nicola area ranch when he disappeared. File photo
Ben Tyler was working on a Nicola area ranch when he disappeared. File photo
2 years after his riderless horse was found, police believe Merritt cowboy was killed

Two years after he went missing, Ben Tyner’s family makes video plea for information

A ground worker wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 unloads lobsters from a WestJet Airlines flight at Vancouver International Airport, in Richmond, B.C., on Thursday, January 21, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Trudeau teases stricter travel measures; Canadians flying to U.S. now need COVID test

Prime minister says measures need to not hurt imports and essential trade

The shirts sell for $45, with 30 per cent of proceeds from each sale going to Battered Women’s Support Services in Vancouver. (Madame Premier/Sarah Elder-Chamanara)
Canadian company launches ‘hysterical’ T-Shirt to combat health officials’ use of word

A partnership with Tamara Taggart will see women broadcast the word on a T-shirt or tote bag

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

ICBC has seen savings on crash and injury claims in the COVID-19 pandemic, with traffic on B.C. roads reduced. (Penticton Western News)
ICBC opens online calculator for rate savings starting in May

Bypassing courts expected to save 20% on average

(AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)
16% boom predicted for B.C. real estate sales in 2021: experts

Along with sales, the average price of homes is also predicted to rise, by nearly 8 percent

The trial of Harry Richardson began Monday at the Nelson courthouse. File photo
Trial of man accused of shooting RCMP officer in West Kootenay in 2019 begins

Harry Richardson is facing five charges in a Nelson courtroom

Most Read