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GAME DAY IN THE BUBBLE PREVIEW- CANUCKS VS WILD: GAME ONE

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Playoff hockey is (almost) back in Vancouver (sort of)!!!

Minnesota Wild v Vancouver Canucks

VANCOUVER CANUCKS vs MINNESOTA WILD

7:30PM PDT THE BUBBLE @ ROGERS PLACE, EDMONTON, AB

TV: SPORTSNET, NBCSN, FS-N. FS-WI. RADIO: SN650.

OPPOSITION BLOG: HOCKEY WILDERNESS

It’s been 5 years since the Vancouver Canucks played a playoff game. From that series, just Alexander Edler, Christopher Tanev and a rookie Bo Horvat are still with the squad. That’s an indication of the massive changes the Canucks have made, as well as how much of a struggle it’s been since then. And we can sit here and point out that the improvements haven’t been as monumental as they need to be, as well as the fact that the Canucks hadn’t locked down a playoff spot when the season was halted, and didn’t look like they might with the injuries they were dealing with. None of that matters now.

The pandemic and the required reworking of the playoff system has given them an opportunity to get into that final 8 in the Western Conference. They say that anything can happen in the playoffs, and this year it we could very well see a team who finished below the normal playoff line go all the way. And why not the Canucks?

Whatever happens, this is a huge win for the franchise, to get their young core some much needed playoff experience. They’ll do it against a team that they’re fairly evenly matched against in the Minnesota Wild, who may have more experience to try and cover the deficiencies in talent they give up in the matchup.

LINEUPS:

This is from nhl dot com, and may be subject to change:

Wild projected lineup

Jordan GreenwayEric StaalKevin Fiala

Zach PariseJoel Eriksson EkLuke Kunin

Marcus FolignoAlex GalchenyukMats Zuccarello

Ryan DonatoMikko KoivuRyan Hartman

Ryan SuterJared Spurgeon

Jonas BrodinMatt Dumba

Brad HuntCarson Soucy

Alex Stalock

Devan Dubnyk

Scratched: Matt Bartkowski, Louie Belpedio, Luke Johnson, Kaapo Kahkonen, Gerald Mayhew, Brennan Menell, Victor Rask, Kyle Rau, Mat Robson, Nico Sturm

Unfit to play: Greg Pateryn

Canucks projected lineup

J.T. Miller — Elias Pettersson — Tyler Toffoli

Tanner Pearson — Bo Horvat — Brock Boeser

Antoine RousselAdam GaudetteMicheal Ferland

Tyler MotteJay BeagleBrandon Sutter

Quinn HughesChristopher Tanev

Alexander EdlerTroy Stecher

Oscar FantenbergTyler Myers

Jacob Markstrom

Thatcher Demko

Scratched: Justin Bailey, Jordie Benn, Jalen Chatfield, Louis Domingue, Loui Eriksson, Tyler Graovac, Olli Juolevi, Zack MacEwen, Brogan Rafferty, Jake Virtanen

Unfit to play: Josh Leivo

THINGS TO WATCH:

1- The Canucks bottom 6 forwards: They’ve had a spotlight on them for a while, but with Micheal Ferland returning to the lineup, the light’s a little brighter. That 3rd line of Ferland, Antoine Roussel and Adam Gaudette will have to be disruptive, draw some calls as well as bang some bodies and chip in offensively. And the 4th line of Jay Beagle, Tyler Motte and Brandon Sutter will have to step their defensive game up, especially with a team like Minnesota who has Mats Zuccarello on their 3rd line. This is the umpteen millionth chance for Sutter to prove his worth, but with Jake Virtanen, Zack MacEwen and even Loui Eriksson in the stands waiting for their shot, he cannot afford a single night off if he hopes to stay in the lineup.

2- How long is the leash for Minnesota’s goaltending?: Head coach Dean Evason may not announce who’s starting for the Wild until his choice actually skates into the crease, but with the issues they’ve had all season, whoever gets the nod will have to be at their best, because in a short series, they can’t afford a bad night from their goaltender.

3- Stars must shine: For guys like Elias Pettersson, Brock Boeser, Quinn Hughes and the other 13 Canucks who are heading into their first NHL playoff experience, this is what they’ve been waiting for their whole lives. They need to come out firing and send a message to the Wild, and the NHL that this team may be for real. They also need Tyler Toffoli and Tanner Pearson to bring some of what they learned winning Cups with the Los Angeles Kings to the table, as well as guys like J.T. Miller, who was phenomenal this season. And most of all, Jacob Markstrom needs to stand tall the way he did so often this year. If their best players are at their best, the Canucks can move on to the next round.

GAME DAY CHATTER:

GAME DAY BATTLE HYMN:

Normally, I’ve got some crazy-ass metal song here, but today it’s all about the Canucks, and this pump up video from the talented Samir Javer. Watch this, get pumped! We’ve got full coverage during the game, with Nick Bondi on the NM Twitter doing live tweets tonight, Westy’s game thread and the post game wrap from Jimmi, as well as Sippin’ on a 40 after the game, and we’ll dissect the game on Monday. Enjoy it, I will be watching Monday morning with my breakfast.

Go Canucks Go. Win this one for Botch.