2020 NHL Qualifying Spherical Playoff Preview: Vancouver Canucks vs. Minnesota Wild
VANCOUVER CANUCKS – By Brian Costello
Return to season previews for 2019-20 and just about each prognosticator tabbed the Canucks as needing one other rebuilding season and certainly out of the playoffs. Dig a bit deeper, although, and also you’ll see a few of these soothsayers additionally added the footnote that Vancouver may very well be that one group that stuns the sector and makes an unlimited stride ahead.
Trades by GM Jim Benning the previous couple years introduced in top-six forwards J.T. Miller, Tyler Toffoli and Tanner Pearson. Their tempo of scoring is on the high of the charts in Vancouver. Add this forged to homegrown stars Elias Pettersson, Brock Boeser and Bo Horvat, plus the fast-improving Adam Gaudette and Jake Virtanen, and the Canucks have one of many deepest and most balanced lineups within the West.
The Canucks can get you in a wide range of methods. Attempt to shut down the velocity and puck motion of Pettersson and Boeser and the second and third wave will hit you. Seven Vancouver forwards had not less than three power-play objectives this season, whereas Toffoli certainly would have gotten there with extra runway.
The offensive dimension Quinn Hughes supplied from the blueline was shocking solely within the reality it got here instantly, as a 20-year-old rookie. He averaged virtually 22 minutes of ice time per sport, and his 3:48 of power-play time per outing ranked third amongst NHL defensemen.
Defensively, the Canucks bled photographs, permitting 33.Three per sport, fourth most within the NHL. Add that to the very fact they have been additionally second in blocked photographs and also you get the image: the puck spends plenty of time within the Canucks’ zone. Vancouver was a bottom-10 group in Corsi share.
With Micheal Ferland sidelined a lot of the season, the Canucks didn’t have a lot of a bodily deterrent. They’re a group that may be neutralized by pushing them round.
X-factor: Simply when some Vancouver followers have been anointing Thatcher Demko because the group’s new No. 1 goalie, this was the coming-out season for Jacob Markstrom. All the time a plucky battler with extra good video games than unhealthy video games over time, the 30-year-old took it to a brand new degree this season. He was even a fringe title within the Vezina Trophy dialog when he went down with an harm Feb. 22, three weeks earlier than the league shut down. The Canucks have been fifth within the West and comfortably within the playoffs when Markstrom was sidelined. With him gone, they slid to eighth. With him wholesome, the Canucks can roll with the perfect groups.
MINNESOTA WILD – By Jared Clinton
Two weeks earlier than the commerce deadline, GM Invoice Guerin dealt Jason Zucker to the Pittsburgh Penguins. One week later, coach Bruce Boudreau was fired and changed by Dean Evason. And on deadline day, the Wild reportedly flirted with a commerce that will have despatched top-line winger Zach Parise to the New York Islanders. Nevertheless, regardless of all indicators pointing to a teardown and rebuild, Guerin held agency that his intention was for the Wild to compete for a post-season spot. In opposition to seemingly all odds, Minnesota managed to do precisely that.
The notion that the Wild are nothing greater than a hanger-on is considerably misguided, although. Whereas it’s true they lack top-end firepower, the assault is bigger than the sum of its elements. Driving the offense is a slew of veterans, together with Parise, Eric Staal and Mats Zuccarello, however most spectacular, significantly all through the again half of the marketing campaign, was Kevin Fiala. The 23-year-old bordered on unstoppable by way of February and into March, scoring at greater than a point-per-game tempo.
And with Ryan Suter and Jared Spurgeon guiding the protection, Minnesota has been way more unyielding defensively than its goals-against common suggests. No group allowed fewer scoring possibilities or high-danger possibilities in opposition to, and the Wild boasted the bottom anticipated goals-against fee within the NHL.
Sadly, the shell that had been supplied to Minnesota’s goalies hasn’t been mirrored of their play. Alex Stalock and Devan Dubnyk had a mixed .902 save share, and the Wild’s general SP (.897) was 29th within the NHL. Stalock was starting to spherical into type down the stretch, nonetheless. He unseated Dubnyk following the all-star break and didn’t look again. Stalock is basically untested in post-season motion with 4 profession playoff video games on his resume, however he has carried out nicely when known as upon, as his .931 SP can attest.
X-factor: Which model of Eric Staal reveals up? Although he’s had a profession resurgence in Minnesota, his final three journeys to the post-season have been fruitless. Relationship again to the 2016 playoffs, throughout which he was a member of the New York Rangers, Staal has a single aim and three factors in 15 video games. That degree of manufacturing is a far cry from his previous as a playoff warrior. Throughout the Hurricanes’ run to the 2006 title, Staal led gamers with 19 assists and 28 factors. He adopted that with a team-best 10 objectives and 15 factors in 18 video games throughout Carolina’s 2009 convention ultimate run. Rediscovering that previous spark will improve the potential for a Wild upset.
Jan. 12, 2020: Canucks 4, Wild 1Feb. 6, 2020: Wild 4, Canucks 2Feb. 19, 2020: Wild 4, Canucks 3 (SO)
Sunday, Aug. 2, 10:30 p.m.: Wild at CanucksTuesday, Aug. 4, 10:45 p.m.: Wild at CanucksThursday, Aug. 6, TBD: Canucks at WildFriday, Aug. 7, TBD: Canucks at Wild *Sunday, Aug. 9, TBD: Wild at Canucks *
(All video games listed in jap time)
THE HOCKEY NEWS’ SERIES PICK: Canucks in 4 video games
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