The Canucks struggled throughout much of the early 1970s, but had their best season to that date in the 1973-74 season. They were blessed with another NHL expansion for the 1974-75 season and were moved into the Smythe Division, with notably easier competition than they had faced in the previous four years. Coach Phil Maloney had taken over the head reigns in the middle of the last year and had turned things around somewhat, giving fans some reason to hope for the best year yet in the 1974-75 season.
Fans were still somewhat anxious heading into the season, but after things didn’t fall on their face immediately, things got intriguing. The Canucks went on a four-game winning streak that was only broken up by the Montreal Canadiens, but only by a one-goal loss in a 4-3 game. There was no doubt about it, this was the most competitive the Canucks had ever been. Goaltender Gary Smith was a huge part of Vancouver’s success and finished 6th in Hart trophy voting for his efforts. On forward, the Canucks had a great combination of play making in Andre Boudrias (62 assists) with goal scoring from a young Don Lever (38 goals) and John Gould (34 goals). Were it not for injuries to guys like Chris Oddleifson and Dennis Ververgaert, they may have done even better.
On defense, Bob Dailey led the way with a solid 48-point season. Aside from him, offense was somewhat lacking, but that was partly due to a rough season by Dennis Kearns. Others like Tracy Pratt and Mike Robitaille helped hold the fort defensively. While the Canucks gave up on one young defenseman, Jocelyn Guevremont, by trading him, they began grooming a new one, a 20-year old big man by the name of Harold Snepsts.
The Canucks would have a few rougher patches at the end of the season, but still managed to finish atop the Smythe Division, earning them a bye past the first round of the playoffs and straight into the quarterfinals. The Canucks were slotted to face the deadly Montreal Canadiens and everyone expected a clean 4-0 sweep of the series. However, the Canucks surprised everyone by stealing a game from them by great team play and stellar play by Gary Smith in goal. Despite the 4-1 series loss, Canuck fans left the season feeling a little bit prouder of their team.