EDMONTON — The lately woebegone Vancouver Canucks are retooled and able to make some noise within the NHL’s return to play match, however first should keep away from being smothered by the Minnesota Wild.
The Canucks, out of the playoffs since 2015, have assembled probably the greatest group of top-6 forwards within the NHL, with 4 20-plus aim scorers: J.T. Miller, Tanner Pearson, Elias Pettersson and Bo Horvat.
But when the common season is any indication, the Canucks will solely go so far as goalie Jacob Markstrom can take them.
Markstrom, the 30-year-old Swede, carried Vancouver via the common season, trying good at occasions whereas dealing with a taking pictures gallery on a squad that averaged about 33 pictures on aim towards per sport (28th within the NHL). When Markstrom went down with a knee harm in late February, the Canucks swooned too, going 6-9-2 earlier than the unfold of COVID-19 compelled the league to droop play on March 12.
His file was 23-16-Four and he had a .918 save proportion.
Markstrom is again and seemed OK within the 4-1 exhibition loss Wednesday to the Winnipeg Jets. He stated he went the gap to work on some approach and can be prepared when the Canucks host the Wild on Sunday within the first sport of their best-of-five elimination spherical collection at Rogers Place.
“I assumed it went higher the longer it went. It was good to be on the market … It has been a very long time,” Markstrom stated.
The defence is headlined by rookie offensive whiz Quinn Hughes. Hughes has racked up eight targets and 53 factors, main all rookies.
The Wild, in the meantime, had been on the decline earlier than Dean Evason changed Bruce Boudreau as head coach in mid-February and turned issues round.
The Wild went 8-Four underneath Evason, with younger winger Kevin Fiala setting the tempo. Fiala had 14 targets and 26 factors within the 18 video games previous to the shutdown and can be counted on towards the Canucks.
“I feel they’re actually enjoying for one another. That is one of many largest issues we talked about earlier than the pause,” Evason stated.
Minnesota’s assault lacks the star energy of Vancouver however has depth, steadiness, and veteran expertise. 5 gamers, together with Fiala, had 14 or extra targets: Zach Parise (25 markers to guide the staff), Eric Staal, Mats Zuccarello, Luke Kunin and Ryan Donato.
On defence, Ryan Suter (staff chief with 40 assists) is predicted to log huge minutes together with Jared Spurgeon, Matt Dumba and Jonas Brodin.
The Wild have goalie questions of their very own. Starter Devan Dubnyk’s sport fell aside this season (12-15-2, .890 save proportion) and he finally misplaced his job to Alex Stalock (20-11-4, .910 save proportion).
The 2 goalies break up duties within the lone exhibition sport Wednesday, a 3-2 loss to the Colorado Avalanche.
“I truthfully do not know who’s selecting who. We’re simply fearful about what we will do and the way we will play towards Vancouver,” Evason stated.
KEY MATCHUP — Joel Eriksson Ek, a pesky 23-year-old centre, will anchor the road anticipated to close down Vancouver’s high trio of Pettersson, Miller and Toffoli. Success right here might tip the steadiness of the collection.
THE BIG QUESTION — Will Minnesota be capable to keep out of the penalty field and, if not, comprise Vancouver’s energy play? The Canucks had been fourth within the league with the person benefit, scoring 24.2 per cent of the time, whereas the Wild’s penalty kill was 25th at 77.2 per cent.
PLAYOFF HISTORY — The Wild missed the playoffs final yr, preceded by three consecutive years of first-round exits. Vancouver was final within the put up season in 2015, dropping within the first spherical to the Calgary Flames. The 2 groups have met earlier than within the playoffs: Minnesota defeated Vancouver in 2003 to advance to the ultimate 4.
COACHES’ PLAYOFF HISTORY — Vancouver’s Travis Inexperienced is in his third season and has but to teach in an NHL playoff sport. Identical for Minnesota’s Evason.
REGULAR-SEASON RECORDS — Minnesota was 35-27-7, good for 21st total and the 10th seed within the Western Convention. Vancouver was 36-27-6 (15th, seventh seed).
SEASON SERIES — Minnesota received two video games (one by shootout) and misplaced one to Vancouver. Vancouver received 4-1 on Jan. 12, misplaced 4-2 on Feb. 6, and misplaced in a shootout 4-Three on Feb. 19.
This report by the Canadian Press was first revealed July 31, 2020.
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