For the first time ever, the Canucks, and the rest of the teams participating in this unique Stanley Cup tournament and playing playoff hockey in August. When play stopped on March 12, the Canucks were in Arizona, getting set to face the Coyotes two days after a shootout win over the Islanders to wrap up a 4-game home stand. They finished the regular season with a solid 36-27-9 record over 69 games. Because of uneven number of games played, the NHL decided to create a 24 team Stanley Cup tournament, inviting every team that had a mathematical chance of making the playoffs when play stopped. The top 4 teams in each conference received a bye and will play a mini tournament among themselves as they await the conclusion of the qualifier round to determine seeding. Meanwhile, the other 16 teams must play best-of-5-series to determine who will advance to the main tournament or the quarterfinals of the Stanley Cup. Please correct me if I am wrong, but I think after this round, the rest of the tournament’s rounds will consist of 7-game series. Tonight, the Canucks opened their qualifying round series against the Minnesota Wild, who won 2 of the 3 games of the season series, with both teams scoring 9 goals each. It should be a good series. Could the Canucks win the all-important first game of this series? Here is tonight’s game recap.
- The Wild opened the scoring just under three minutes into the game, right off the right off the faceoff of their first PP with defenseman Kevin Fiala blasted a one-timer past Canucks goalie Jacob Markstrom
- The Wild added a goal just over halfway through the second period as a wide open Jared Spurgeon rifled a sweet cross-ice feed from Eric Staal past Markstrom
- Spurgeon put the game away with an empty-netter with 43 seconds left in the game
- Jacob Markstrom stopped 28/30 shots tonight
- Final score: Wild 3 Canucks 1
- Welp, one game into the play-in round and the Canucks have yet to score a goal. They had their chances, but couldn’t solve Alex Stalock. At times, the Canucks were getting too cute and overpassing. It seems like it’ll take a garbage goal to beat Stalock.
- The Canucks left 18 goal scorer Jake Virtanen in the press box as a healthy scratch. He could draw into the lineup next game. Or it might be Loui Eriksson if the Canucks opt to switch up the PK units.
- Special teams is always huge in the playoffs. Tonight, the Wild struck twice on their power plays and the Canucks did not on their lone chance with the man advantage. That was literally the difference in the game tonight
- One key area the Canucks did well is in the faceoff dot, with the Canucks winning 59% of the draws tonight, led by Brandon Sutter, who won every draw he took. Jay Beagle (73% success rate), JT Miller (64% success rate), Adam Gaudette (54% success rate) and Bo Horvat (matched his jersey # with a 53% success rate)
- The Canucks outhit the Wild 40-27, led by Tyler Motte, who banged out 7 hits tonight
- The Canucks blocked 15 shots, led by Alex Edler and Tyler Myers, who both blocked 3 shots
- Up next, the Canucks look to even the series at 1 in 48 hours. It’ll be a crucial game because the Canucks do not want to go down 2 games to the pesky Wild.