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‘We’re not satisfied at all’: Canucks hungry for more after playoffs, GM says

Despite few expecting the team to make it as far as it did, GM says they should have done better
Vancouver Canucks star Elias Pettersson says he has been playing with a knee injury since January. Pettersson (40) tries to get his stick on the puck after Edmonton Oilers goalie Stuart Skinner (74) made the save while Evan Bouchard, right, defends during the first period in Game 7 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup second-round playoff series, in Vancouver, B.C., Monday, May 20, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

The general manager of the Vancouver Canucks wasn’t happy Thursday afternoon.

Patrik Allvin wanted to be watching his players prepare for another playoff game. Instead he was conducting exit interviews and speaking to reporters about the season that was.

“I’m not happy sitting here to be sitting here today. Definitely not satisfied,” Allvin said. “We lost our last game and it was only in round two.”

Few expected the Canucks to be a playoff team when the NHL season began.

Vancouver surprised many, spending much of the campaign around the top of the league standings and finishing the regular season first in the Pacific Division with a 50-23-9 record. The club made the playoffs for the first time since playing in the bubble at the end of the COVID-condensed 2020 season, and Vancouver hosted post-season games for the first time since 2015.

The playoffs saw the Canucks down the Nashville Predators in a six-game first-round series before being ousted by the Edmonton Oilers in a seven-game second-round matchup that ended with a 3-2 loss at home Monday.

“I think we got better. But that being said, we’re not satisfied at all,” Allvin said of the season. “You don’t know how many chances you’re going to have to play in Game 7.”

Brock Boeser detailed Thursday the blood clotting issue that forced him to sit out that decisive game.

The right-winger said he was hit in the leg with a puck in Game 1 of the second-round series, causing a bruise. About a week later, he started experiencing pain in his calf and a scan revealed he had a blood clot in a small vein, but doctors determined he could still play.

Another scan after Game 6 changed everything.

“It showed there was more clotting that moved into my deep vein,” Boeser said. “I wasn’t expecting that going into that. I didn’t really understand, I think. (Monday) was an emotional morning for me.

“To get told that news after you’re giving all your energy to your teammates and the playoffs, and you’re really striving and pushing for that ultimate goal. To get that kind of swept out from under you, to not be out there in Game 7 with these guys, it hurt.”

Boeser was Vancouver’s leading scorer through the regular season, putting up a career-high 40 goals. He added another seven goals and five assists in 12 playoff appearances.

He admitted to thinking about how he could have helped his team in Game 7.

“I’m crushed. I wish I could have been out there with the guys,” Boeser said. “Obviously a one-goal game, of course I’m sitting there saying ‘I could have scored in this game.’ You never know what could have happened if I’d been out there.

“I would have done anything to be out there. I asked if I could play and tried to push them. But the risks were too big. And I had to protect my future. You don’t want health issues moving forward.”

Boeser wasn’t the only Canuck playing hurt.

Elias Pettersson revealed Thursday that he had been playing with a knee injury since January that impacted his performance.

The star centre had 34 goals and 55 assists in the regular season, but struggled in the playoffs, putting up just one goal and five assists in 13 appearances.

“It’s been a nagging injury, so the longer it went, the more pain I felt,” the 25-year-old forward said.

The injury won’t require surgery, but it will need time to heal, Pettersson said.

READ ALSO: Canucks star Elias Pettersson dealt with knee injury through playoffs

After going down with a lower-body injury in Game 1 of the first round, all-star goalie Thatcher Demko worked hard to get back to help Vancouver’s playoff run. Ultimately, he didn’t make it and will have to wait until next season to play another game.

“Probably the hardest thing I’ve had to go through as a player not being able to play,” Demko said, adding that he was “close” to coming back and likely would have been available for the next round had the Canucks advanced.

“Obviously we’ve been through some tough years here and finally get the opportunity and it’s always tough watching.”

Getting to the playoffs will “put a hunger” in the stomachs of many Canucks players, said forward J.T. Miller.

“At the end of the day we have a really good hockey team and we have a lot of good qualities and these opportunities just don’t come around very often,” said Miller, who had a career-high 103 points during the regular season.

The real test will come next year, he added.

“That is going to be a challenge, not taking it for granted and raising the bar again,” Miller said. “Because we can feel good about what we did this year but at the end of the day we still lost. And for me, it makes me want to work even harder knowing that we’re a goal or two away from Final Four.”

For Allvin and his front office staff, there’s a lot of work to be done between now and next season.

The Canucks have nine players who will become unrestricted free agents this summer, including trade deadline acquisition Elias Lindholm, bruising defenceman Nikita Zadorov and big winger Dakota Joshua. Offensive defenceman Filip Hronek and goalie Arturs Silovs — who became a playoff sensation — will be restricted free agents.

Many players have expressed an interest in staying with the Canucks, Allvin said, but whether there’s a deal to be made will depend on dollar figures.

“We all know we have a salary cap so we want to be a competitive team moving forward,” the general manager said. “So it’s only so much I can pay certain individuals. And hopefully we can find ways to keep a lot of players because I do think that a lot of them have a chance, with the coaches here, take their game to the next level.”

READ ALSO: NHL will have a new Stanley Cup champion this century

Gemma Karstens-Smith, The Canadian Press