Canucks Game Day: Game one might be wild

Vancouver Canucks Elias Pettersson is pasted up against the boards by Minnesota Wild’s Jonas Brodin at Rogers Arena on February 19, 2020. Arlen Redekop / PNG

The Canucks and the Wild open their Stanley Cup playoffs qualifying round in Edmonton, the NHL Western Conference COVID-19 hub city, on Sunday.


Sunday | Game 1

Minnesota Wild vs. Vancouver Canucks

7:30 p.m., Rogers Place, TV: Sportsnet. Radio: Sportsnet 650 AM

Elias Pettersson will see a lot of the Wild’s Jonas Brodin in their play-in series.

Gerry Kahrmann / Postmedia News Files


Brodin vs. Pettersson

Jonas Brodin is one of the NHL’s premier shutdown defenders. He’ll draw the matchup against Elias Pettersson, one of the league’s better centres. This battle is a microcosm of the Wild vs. Canucks matchup, which is about one of the league’s best defensive teams taking on one of the league’s better attacking teams. Where this matchup goes, so will the rest of the series, most likely.


1. Breaking the wall

In soccer, a team sitting in the middle of the defensive area, making it hard to get to the net is called parking the bus. The Wild are masters at applying this technique on the ice. No team gave away less to shooters than the Wild did this season. The Canucks pride themselves on being able to generate offence from the slot — the best-chance shots are taken from there after all. The series will surely be settle by which team is able to control Minnesota’s defensive zone.

2. Depth, depth, depth

The Wild aren’t studded with stars, but each line packs a bunch and their top four defence is among the league’s best — though their third pairing is not good, something the Canucks will hope to exploit. This is a team that comes at you in waves. The Canucks can’t say the same. They have some fantastic top-end players — like Pettersson and Quinn Hughes — but their fourth line is a one-trick pony and the third line has been shored up by Micheal Ferland but Adam Gaudette still struggles at times in his own end. And we know how much the Canucks lean on their goaltender in their own end.

Brock Boeser returned from the break in great shape.

Arlen Redekop / PNG

3. Boes mode

In this summer’s training camp, Brock Boeser looked as fit and as sharp as he’s ever looked. Playing on the second line with Bo Horvat, he’s going to be leaned on to be the trio’s creative element, even if he’s traditionally been a shoot-first player. On paper it’s an intriguing line, but how well will he mesh with his straight-ahead linemates Horvat and Tanner Pearson?

4. Towers of power

If Alex Edler and Tyler Myers are reunited as a pair — they spent quite a bit of time with Troy Stecher and Oscar Fantenberg this season, respectively — how do they handle the quick Wild forwards? Neither is the best defender against the rush. Their games are built to recover pucks in the defensive zone and launch quick breakouts, creating offence that keeps them from having to play too much defence.

5. Crease crash

Wild head coach Dean Evason said he would tell his goalies on Saturday who would start in goal on Sunday. Most expect it will be Alex Stalock, who has been a steady presence for Minnesota all season. Dubnyk was the No. 1 until a midseason injury knocked him from the lineup and he struggled for form for most of the season as it is.


J.T. Miller — Elias Pettersson — Tyler Toffoli

Tanner Pearson — Bo Horvat — Brock Boeser

Antoine Roussel — Adam Gaudette — Micheal Ferland

Tyler Motte — Jay Beagle — Brandon Sutter

Defence pairings

Alex Edler — Tyler Myers

Quinn Hughes — Chris Tanev

Oscar Fantenberg — Troy Stecher

Goalies: Jacob Markstrom, Thatcher Demko


Jordan Greenway — Eric Staal — Kevin Fiala

Zach Parise — Joel Eriksson Ek — Luke Kunin

Marcus Foligno — Alex Galchenyuk — Mats Zuccarello

Ryan Donato — Mikko Koivu Ryan Hartman

Defence pairings

Ryan Suter — Jared Spurgeon

Jonas Brodin — Matt Dumba

Carson Soucy — Brad Hunt

Goalies: Alex Stalock, Devan Dubnyk


Canucks: Josh Leivo (fractured knee cap)

Wild: Greg Pateryn (upper body)


Power play

Canucks: 24.2% (4th)

Wild: 21.3% (11th)

Penalty kill

Canucks: 80.5% (16th)

Wild: 77.2% (25th)

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