Young Guns vs. The Geezer's! Vancouver Canucks vs. Minnesota Wild Breakdown
This Play-in series breakdown features the surging Canucks against the declining Wild.
Vancouver Canucks (7) vs Minnesota Wild (10)
Youth Will Trump Experience
Vancouver Top 5 Scorers (Ages)
1. Jt Miller- (27) 2. Elias Pettersson- (21) 3. Bo Horvat- (25) 4. Quinn Hughes- (20) 5. Brock Boeser- (23)
Minnesota Top 5 Scorers (Ages)
1. Kevin Fiala- (24) 2. Ryan Suter- (35) 3. Eric Staal- (36) 4. Zach Parise- (36) 5. Mats Zuccarello- (32)
The Wild's 2nd leader scorer during the 2019-20 season with 48 points was Ryan Suter... ya you read that correctly. You know your offense has major problems if stay at home defenseman like Suter is your second-leading scorer. But, for what the Wild lack in offense, they make up for it in the defensive end. They have a stingy defensive unit and an impressive top 4 that includes: Ryan Suter, Jared Spurgeon, Jonas Brodin, and Matt Dumba. These top 2 pairings will look to neutralize Vancouver's top offensive line of Miller-Petterson-Toffoli.
Aside from 5 on 5 gameplay, the only thing larger than Eric Staal's helmet this series is the clash between the special team's units. The Wild had the 7th worst penalty kill in the league by only killing off 77% of their penalties, while the Canucks were ranked 4th on the power play and converted at a 24.2% success rate. The Wild's penalty-kill unit will need to be much better this series if they want to keep up with the Canucks.
(Is there a prop bet on who will have the biggest helmet? I know who my money is on)
Hey, Canucks fans... you're finally back! This is the Canucks first playoff berth since 2015, and they have yet to win a playoff series since their cup run in 2011! They finally look like a promising team that is coming together at the right time with a young core group, and veteran role players. Goaltending has been steady this year and this is a refreshing sight for Canucks fans that are still missing prime Bobby Lou. The 2019-20 season was the best of Jacob Markstrom's career. He had a 23-16-4 record with a .918 save percentage and 2.75 goals-against average. If he continues his stellar play, the Canucks should have no issues outscoring the Wild in this series.
The Difference Makers
Looking at a player from each team that will decide this series.
⭐ Brock Boeser
With the Miller-Petterson-Toffoli line expected to get matched up with the top pairing of the Wild, Boeser will need to find his game again to give the Canucks much needed secondary scoring. Boeser had an injury-riddled 2019-20 season, still managed to put up a modest 45 points in 57 games. He is a gifted sniper that needs to get his name on the score sheet for the Canucks because their bottom 6 forwards are predominantly role players/grinders. The efficiency of Boeser and his linemates, Bo Horvat and Tanner Pearson will be crucial to the outcome against the Wild. But, the Minnesota native is at full health and very motivated to eliminate his hometown team that passed on him in the 2015 draft.
⭐ Alex Stalock/Devan Dubnyk
A major question mark in this series is the Wild's goaltending and who will get the start in net. Stalock was better in the 2019-20 regular season by posting a .910 save percentage and 2.67 goals-against average, compared to Dubnyk who had a .890 save percentage and a 3.35 goals-against average. However, during the exhibition game against the Colorado Avalanche yesterday (July 29), Stalock allowed 3 goals on 17 shots, while Dubnyk posted a shutout with 12 saves. Dubnyk without a doubt has more playoff experience than Stalock, but Stalock put up better numbers in the 2019-20 season. Regardless of who is in net for the Wild, the play of Stalock and/or Dubnyk will be the x-factor in this series for slowing down the Canucks offense.
Prediction and Betting Picks
The Canucks are a slight betting favourite at -130 with the Wild coming in at +110 on Bodog.
Overall, I believe that the Canucks are a much more well-rounded team with an underrated defensive unit. I expect this series to be a run and gun style of hockey with high scoring games, and this will favour the Canucks. Each game should be competitive, but I have more confidence in Markstrom than Stalock/Dubnyk to close out tight games. Experience is always an advantage in the playoffs, but I wouldn't consider it a large advantage under the circumstances of no fans and limited media. So, even though the Wild have the edge in experience, I don't believe it will be a major factor in the outcome. If the Wild can get consistent goaltending, I can see this series going the distance, but I don't see it being enough to get past the Canucks.
If you're feeling risky, you can bet the "Vancouver 3-1" series prop at +293
Prediction: Canucks in 4