NHL.com's Q&A feature called "Five Questions With …" runs every Tuesday. We talk to key figures in the game and ask them questions to gain insight into their lives, careers and the latest news.
The latest edition features Vancouver Canucks forward Elias Pettersson:
Elias Pettersson has been key to the Vancouver Canucks' rise in the Western Conference this season.
Pettersson, voted the Calder Trophy winner last season as NHL rookie of the year, leads the Canucks with 31 points (11 goals, 20 assists) in 28 games. He has nine multipoint games, including scoring four points (one goal, three assists) against the Los Angeles Kings on Oct. 30.
Vancouver (13-11-4), which has missed the Stanley Cup Playoffs in each of the past four seasons, currently holds the second wild card from the West heading into its game against the Ottawa Senators at Rogers Arena on Tuesday (10 p.m. ET; SNP, TSN5, RDS, NHL.TV).
"I feel like we're a [deeper] group, that we have a stronger D corps," said Pettersson, who also led the Canucks in scoring last season with 66 points (28 goals, 38 assists) in 71 games. "We had five additions this summer with free agency (defensemen Tyler Myers, Jordie Benn, Oscar Fantenberg, and forwards Micheal Ferland and Tyler Graovac) and all of them have helped us. I believe we're playing with more confidence."
Video: VAN@NSH: Pettersson fires in PPG from left circle
The Canucks are also drawing confidence from the way they have handled adversity this season.
Vancouver has had a number of injuries to key players, including forwards Brandon Sutter (has missed the past nine games with a lower-body injury), Jay Beagle (five games with a lower-body injury) and Ferland (16 games with a concussion), and defenseman Alexander Edler, who missed its 3-2 loss to the Edmonton Oilers on Sunday because of an undisclosed injury.
Despite that, the Canucks have recently won on the road against the Nashville Predators, Washington Capitals and Oilers. Vancouver has played 17 games away from home this season, tied for the most in the NHL, going 8-8-1 in those games.
Pettersson said he believes the Canucks can maintain their upward trajectory if they focus on their strengths.
"For us, we play our best hockey when we work hard," said Pettersson, who was the No. 5 pick in the 2017 NHL Draft. "We skate well and we do the small things ... everything comes right for us when we skate and work hard at these things and that's going to be the key, if there's one thing for us to focus on."
Here are Five Questions with … Elias Pettersson:
How do you deal with all the attention you receive, on the ice from opponents and off it from fans?
"It's always been with me as a player. It's always been something to [deal with]. My dad once told me that if a guy wants to try to get you out of the game or get inside your head, that's a good sign, so just forget about it and think about what you can control. You can't control what other people think of you or what opponents will do, so you always try to be positive and focus on what you can control. Off the ice, there was always a lot of it in Sweden, but after 10 or 15 games (in the NHL), it blew up here in Vancouver and in North America. It's very humbling and awesome at the same time. I never thought I would be the guy I am today, never thought, when I was growing up, I'd be playing in the NHL. It was always a goal for me, so now I am trying to make the most of it."
What did you learn about playing in the NHL during your rookie season?
"I didn't know what to expect when I came to the NHL, so I was just going to take it day by day. What I've learned is that the NHL is a really good life and I don't want to take it for granted. I'm living my dream life."
Video: Pettersson on winning Calder Trophy
What things have helped you improve your scoring pace this season?
"I don't think about the points. I learned from myself in the past that if I think about scoring points, I play a bad game. So I just think about playing good, about working hard and doing all the small things and then my chances will come up. And then I will trust my abilities and believe in myself and have the confidence (to score)."
Video: VAN@PIT: Pettersson snipes wrister from the circle
You are known to be very hard on yourself at times. Why?
"It's always been with me. I'm very stubborn. If I want to learn something, I put in the time that I need to learn it. It's a thing that's always been with me and it has helped me get where I am today."
What's behind the chemistry and strong friendship you've developed with your linemate Brock Boeser?
"It's just that we're both the same age (Boeser is 22, Pettersson is 21), we both have the same interests. Off the ice, he's humble and he's a funny guy and I like to hang with him. We were even trying to find some time together last summer, but the timing was off. I was going to go [to his home in Minnesota] before the (NHL) Awards, but then he wasn't home. And the week after I had planned a vacation with my family. Another time."
Video: VAN@SJS: Boeser, Pettersson connect for crafty goal