Sophomore Elias Pettersson leads the Canucks in scoring.(Getty Images)

Injuries might likewise be an aspect. The Canucks have managed to stay relatively healthy this year however if somebody like Pettersson or Miller decreases it will evaluate Vancouver's resiliency.

The Canuck penalty kill stays strong, but the power play has managed simply 3 objectives in 31 attempts over the past eight video games.

"Down the stretch special groups are big," stated Sutter. "Teams that choose runs in the playoffs have special groups that are dialled in March and April."

The style of games will also alter. Teams will focus more on defence. Mistakes will be exploited.

"The contend level, mistakes are less," stated head coach Travis Green. "Guys are mentally more dialled in from shift to move. There is more on the line so naturally you are visiting the temperature increase in video game.

"Everything is amplified as the season progresses."

One thing Vancouver carries into the final part stretch of the season is a sense of confidence. The Canucks just don't hope to make the playoffs, they think they can.

Horvat has actually become part of Canuck teams whose playoffs dreams had relied on nightmares by the all-star break.

"We know we have a truly great squad here," he said. "We know we have excellent gamers that have been to the playoffs and understand what it takes to arrive.

"There is just a different feel that method for sure."

We have to really make sure we keep playing that way, not provide teams a lot of chances."The most consistent team through this last stretch is going to be the group that makes it to the playoffs," said forward Brandon Sutter. Even though Vancouver didn't make the playoffs last year the season was a refresher course. The Canucks have 13 games remaining against department competitors. Sophomore Elias Pettersson leads the Canucks in scoring. Canucks down Sharks to get Pacific Division lead:

The Vancouver Canucks topped the San Jose Sharks 4-1 to move past the Flames, Oilers, Golden Knights and Coyotes for the top spot in the Pacific Division. 1:39

"The most constant team through this last stretch is going to be the team that makes it to the playoffs," stated forward Brandon Sutter. "If we keep paying the way we have been playing over the last stretch ... we are going to be a difficult team to beat."

The Canucks have actually put themselves in playoff contention by winning 11 of their past 14 video games and putting together an eight-game house winning streak.

Goaltender Jacob Markstrom earned himself an invite to the all-star game by winning 10 of his previous 12 starts. Throughout that time, he's held the opposition to two or less objectives seven times. In general, he has a 18-13-4 record, a. 916 save portion and 2.71 goals versus average.

"If you have excellent goaltender you constantly have an opportunity," stated Sutter.

The addition of veterans such as forward J.T Miller and defenceman Tyler Myers, plus the return of a healthy Antoine Roussel have added depth and experience to the Canucks. Rookie defenceman Quinn Hughes, a Calder Trophy contender, has brought speed and creativity to the back end. He is third in rookie scoring with 34 points (five goals, 29 helps)

Elias Pettersson, the NHL's leading novice last year, has actually picked up where he ended and leads the team with 21 goals and 30 assists. Captain Bo Horvat has six goals and eight helps in his previous 10 games. With 17 objectives and 29 helps Miller is on track for career highs. Forward Jake Virtanen has actually currently set a profession high with 28 points and needs simply one more goal to match his high of 15 in a season.

Although Vancouver didn't make the playoffs last year the season was a refresher course. It taught a few of the young Canucks how to win.

"We were building towards how we desired to play, how the company wished to look, the culture and requirements we have set as a group," stated forward Jay Beagle. "This year you continue to grow as a group and continue to get better.

"I think our general play has got better. It's a matter of knowing what works for this group and adhering to it through 60 minutes."

The Canucks might be on track for the playoffs, but things can still go off the rails.

The race in the Pacific Division is like a crowded phone booth. Simply one point separates Vancouver from Edmonton, Calgary, Arizona and Vegas.

The Canucks have 13 games remaining versus department rivals. They play Arizona three times and Calgary and Vegas twice. A number of losses might send Vancouver tumbling out of the wild card race.

Vancouver has a 16-5-3 record at home but are 11-13-1 far from Rogers Arena.

After the all-star break the Canucks play the defending Stanley Cup champion St. Louis Blues at house, then go on a road journey where they deal with the New York Islanders, Carolina Hurricanes and Boston Bruins, all teams above them in the standings.


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