The Vancouver Canucks have what it takes to get past the Minnesota Wild in the postseason.
For the first time since the 2014-15 season, the Vancouver Canucks will be playing hockey after the regular season. Well, sort of. Technically, the play-in round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs won’t be a part of the playoffs. But if the Canucks can beat the Minnesota Wild in the qualifying round, they’ll be in the postseason.
On paper, this seems like a pretty fair series. The Canucks have 78 points in 69 games while the Wild have 77 points in 69 games. However, Vancouver holds the edge in this series and I’d be surprised if they didn’t win.
Here’s a look at why the Canucks will likely be the ones advancing to the Stanley Cup Playoffs instead of the Wild.
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The Canucks are probably happy the hiatus happened because it allowed them to stop the bad momentum going their way. They were struggling after the injury to starting goaltender Jacob Markstrom. Since his injury on Feb. 22, the Canucks were just 3-5-0 during that time.
Markstrom’s healthy, which should give them the boost they need. He’s not an elite goalie, but he’s still having a great season. Markstrom ranks in the top 10 in 5v5 save percentage and GSAA (goals saved above average).
Let’s say the worst case scenario happens and Markstrom gets injured or struggles. That’s fine because the Canucks have Thatcher Demko, who had an encouraging rookie season and proved himself to be a very capable backup goalie.
On the other side of the ice, the Wild have had some goaltending struggles. Devan Dubnyk has been uncharacteristically bad. He’s always been a little bit overrated because the Wild’s defense is very good at preventing high-danger chances, but Dubnyk’s numbers this year are downright dreadful.
Alex Stalock has been solid in net for the Wild, but his history suggests he’s an average backup at best. He’s probably not someone the Wild can count on in the postseason.