There have been three games in these playoffs where the Canucks have looked completely out of sorts.
One was the first game of the playoffs against Minnesota, where they got shut out 3-0. They also floundered on the second night of back-to-backs against St. Louis when they lost Game 4, 3-1.
Then, there was Game 1 against Vegas, which was by far Vancouver’s worst game of the playoffs.
You figured that they would play better in Game 2...and they didn’t disappoint.
Tyler Toffoli and Elias Pettersson were both shot out of a cannon, leading the Canucks to a gigantic Game 2 victory, to tie the series at 1-1.
Here are 5 thoughts on the series after the Canucks prevailed in Game 2.
No rust for Toffoli, power play gets a boost
Coming off of an injury that kept him out of the line-up for 24 days, you figured that Toffoli would be itching to play.
However, questions remained about how healthy he would be, especially since proper media coverage has been eliminated in the bubble.
Well, maybe there’s nothing like getting on the scoresheet to boost your confidence, because Toffoli was flying all night after scoring nine seconds into his first shift.
Toffoli also boosted the power play with a great set up on Horvat’s first period marker. His ability to make plays behind the goal line made Brock Boeser expendable on the top unit. That’s not a knock on Boeser either, Toffoli is just a weapon down low.
The former King finished with three points on the night in 14:27 of ice time. It was a perfect return, and he reminded everybody that he can make a difference when he’s in the line-up.
Elias Pettersson is only 21-years-old
Seriously, how the F is this kid so good?
You figured that him and Quinn Hughes would bounce back after an eerily quiet showing in Game 1. They made an impact instantly as they both hit the scoresheet on Toffoli’s marker, early in the game.
During a night where Vegasfound their legs and ended up dominating Vancouver at five-on-five, Pettersson was the only Canucks forward to finish the night with a positive shot-attempt differential.
While that’s important for a young player against a damn good team, it’s plays like this which make him so special.
Alex Edler the machine
With Tyler Myers remaining on the sidelines, Alex Edler continues to eat up the bulk of the minutes on defence.
Edler played 24:41 on a night where no Canucks defenceman surpassed 20 minutes.
For the most part, Edler was a difference maker tonight. He was directly responsible for two of the Canucks goals — two goals which broke the back the the Golden Knights.
Edler made an amazing no-look, cross-ice pass on Pettersson’s marker late in the second, which gave the Canucks a 3-1 lead.
Then, Edler exploited a blown defensive zone assignment when he held the puck in, setting up Brock Boeser and Bo Horvat for the decisive 4-1 goal.
It’s fair to wonder about Edler’s level of play if he continues to play this much. He had a couple neutral zone turnovers, and he took two minor penalties on the night, one which led to a Max Pacioretty goal late in the third.
However, if he continues to play like that, you’ll take the good with the bad.
Will DeBoer extract the sword and give Fleury the nod?
Robin Lehner has been a better goaltender than Marc-Andre Fleury throughout the 2019-20 season.
As much as Fleury’s agent Allan Walsh wants to stand up for his client with eye-catching photos, that’s the reason why Lehner was the starting goalie for Vegas.
However, after the loss on Tuesday, Lehner’s save percentage dropped to .909 overall in the playoffs — a fairly pedestrian mark.
It wouldn’t be a surprise to see DeBoer turn to Fleury in Game 3 on Thursday night. Can Fleury be like St. Louis’s Jake Allen and perform well in relief, or will he look more like the mediocre goaltender who posted a .905 save percentage during the regular season?
The Canucks had a bit of a gift in Round One with neither St. Louis goaltender playing particularly well. Could they get a similar gift if the Vegas goaltenders fail to perform up to their standards?
Maybe...but I think the bigger question is Vegas’s defence, who hung Lehner out to dry on a few of those goals last night.
A damn impressive playoffs by the Canucks so far
I talked about it off the bat, but the Canucks have played three bad games in these playoffs.
However, in the games where they’ve played fairly well, the Canucks have eight wins, and one overtime loss.
That makes things sound pretty simple, doesn’t it? Play well, and the Canucks are probably going to win. Play like they did on Sunday night, and this series will be over faster than my money supply the last time I was down in Vegas.
The biggest problem that I’ve mentioned before is that the Canucks usually get outplayed at five-on-five. That will always make the Canucks appear to be a huge underdog (which they are) in many cases.
Skater charts are updated— Sean Tierney (@ChartingHockey) August 26, 2020
VGK has the clear edge over VAN despite last night's result.
TBL is pushing BOS further left and down.
COL and DAL are becoming indistinguishable.
NYI owns the top, PHI's fading to the bottom.https://t.co/treInn2jl2 pic.twitter.com/AWDbRhaPPS
However, they’ve shown that they can still with even if that’s the case.
Markstrom plays well under heavy pressure, which masks the Canucks defensive issues.
Goalie shot maps— Sean Tierney (@ChartingHockey) August 26, 2020
Markstrom's up to +6 goals saved vs expectation and has been consistently good for VAN. He faces 3.2 xG per game (that's a lot) and has been a difference-maker. Good timing for the future UFA.https://t.co/SHoBZ0hvJr pic.twitter.com/SZIADhDhlZ
They also have an incredibly dangerous power play and some talented players that don’t need a lot of opportunities to score.
There’s still a long series to go, but this one infectious win makes it easy to see the formula for the Canucks pulling off the upset.
Dare to dream.