Though the Vancouver Canucks are still in the playoff hunt in the Western Conference, they face an uphill battle to qualify for the postseason. The team sits three points behind the Vegas Golden Knights for the final spot in the Pacific, with the Los Angeles Kings between them, and are even further behind the Nashville Predators and Dallas Stars in the wild card hunt. Vancouver deserves recognition for their second-half turnaround, but still seem likely to fall short.
With today’s news, the Canucks’ playoff hopes now seem all but dashed. With exactly two weeks remaining in their regular season schedule, Vancouver has announced that captain Bo Horvat has been shut down due to an undisclosed lower-body injury. Horvat will be re-evaluated… in two weeks. The announcement comes as a relative surprise; Horvat left Thursday’s game after blocking a shot, but that decision was deemed precautionary and he has since been considered merely day-to-day. As it turns out, the prognosis is much more severe.
Horvat, 26, is Vancouver’s leading goal scorer with 31 tallies on the year. He is also fourth on the Canucks in scoring with 52 points in 70 games and second among forwards in time on ice, not to mention their top face-off man. In his fourth consecutive season of at least .70 points per game, Horvat potentially could have set a career-high in scoring this season if not for the injury. Now, Horvat will have to sit and watch as his team likely misses the playoffs and heads into a contract year in 2022-23 with an even more uncertain future.
To add to the bad news, the Canucks also confirmed the suspicion that young winger Nils Hoglander will not return from injury this season. Hoglander has missed the past month with a “week-to-week” groin injury with little update on his status in the interim. Today, Vancouver reported that Hoglander has in fact undergone surgery to correct the core muscle/groin injury and there is no timetable for his return. The typical recovery period for such a procedure is three to eight weeks, meaning Hoglander’s regular season is over and barring a miraculous stretch run and postseason, he is done for the year.
The Canucks are 4 points behind the Kings, not 3 points behind the Knights.
The two statements are not mutually exclusive. If the playoffs started today, it would be Vegas and not L.A. that would be in based on points percentage, so that is the team that the Canucks truly are chasing as of right now.