The Vancouver Canucks reassembled
Megazord The Lotto Line against the Minnesota Wild and saw great success and they will live and die through the same formula against the St. Louis Blues.
The Lotto Line is back baby! Elias Pettersson, JT Miller and Brock Boeser are playing together once again and everything feels good for the Canucks as they move into the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
This trio had success throughout the season so it comes as no shock that they were also good against the Blues this year. 6-40-9 played two games against the Blues this season while one game featured Jake Virtanen slotting in with Miller and Pettersson.
The trio dominated 5-on-5 play against the Blues, posting a Corsi for and expected goals percentage of 67% while having 16 scoring chances for and only seven against.
Much will depend on the top scoring line having success in this series but the other three lines will need to be better as well.
When Miller, Pettersson and Boeser weren’t on the ice, the Canucks had a horrendous shooting percentage of 2.63% at 5-on-5 against the Blues this season. That will have to change as depth scoring will be needed to help this team get past the Blues.
Despite attempting 28 shots and registering 17 scoring chances, the Horvat line was unable to score a goal at 5-on-5 against the Blues this year. Tanner Pearson had a good play-in series against Minnesota and the Canucks will need him and Horvat to spark this team at times.
St. Louis has a veteran defence core that is coming fresh off a Stanley Cup Championship last year. The pairing that faced off against Pettersson the most this season was the duo of Colton Parayko and Jay Bouwmeester. Pettersson’s lines dominated the duo and with Bouwmeester potentially done for his career, the Blues will have to make an adjustment from the regular season.
Another adjustment that may be changed from the regular season is the matchup line used by the Blues. During the season, the Blues were hard matching the line of David Perron, Ryan O’Reilly and Zach Sanford against the Pettersson line.
It is in the best interest of the Canucks to try and have this matchup again as the Pettersson-Miller duo was excellent against the top line for the Blues. The scary part is seeing how the O’Reilly line dominated the Canucks when they faced off against the other three Canucks lines.
Here’s a breakdown of the O’Reilly line versus the Miller-Pettersson duo compared to O’Reilly line against the rest of the Canucks team when Pettersson and Miller aren’t on the ice.
Let’s hope the Blues decide to use this matchup once again and also hope that playoff O’Reilly was only a one-time thing.
The matchup for the Canucks is pretty good, but the Horvat line needs to be better than they were during the season against the Blues for the Canucks to win the top six battle.
One thing that concerns me about the Lotto line was their inefficiency against the Brayden Schenn line. If the Blues learned anything from the regular season, they should be using the line of Jordan Schwartz, Jordan Kyrou and Schenn against The Lotto Line.
Schenn was able to limit Pettersson and Miller’s offensive output and kept the puck in the Canucks zone in the limited time they played against each other at 5-on-5. Here’s how the Miller-Pettersson duo looked against the Schwartz-Schenn-Kyrou line:
If the line matchups were to shake down this way it could me a decent setup for the Canucks. The Horvat line did have success at possessing the puck against the O’Reilly line and that 5-on-5 battle could tilt the series in either direction.
With so many possibilities I just want to get back to the main point, and that is The Lotto Line. This line will be the Canucks’ workhorse at 5-on-5. They will be relying on this line to control the goal share and be dominant at even strength.
As for the rest of the lineup, to put it simply, they are going to need to be better at getting the puck past Jordan Binnington. The Blues give up a lot of odd-man rushes, so the Canucks’ speedy wingers like Jake Virtanen, Antoine Roussel and Tyler Motte will have to step up and score a handful of goals at the series goes on.
You can’t put all your eggs into The Lotto Line’s basket but that’s not saying you shouldn’t play the wheels off of the top line.
In conclusion, the duo of Miller and Pettersson were better with Boeser on their line against the Blues. The rest of the team will need to play better than they did in the regular season and there will be lots of rush attempts for the Canucks where they need to capitalize.
I expect the top line to be the story of this series and one last tidbit was that Quinn Hughes had some of his worst games of the season against the Blues. That being said, I fully expect him to be better in the playoffs given his recent performance in the play-in series.
Hughes almost always helps The Lotto Line with their possession stat. However, against the Blues, he actually dropped their CF% from 62.75% down to 56.76% and saw their expected goals against skyrocket to almost three times more goals against per game.
Hughes will likely be better this time around but this will be an interesting tidbit to keep an eye on as the series progresses.