3 things the Canucks can learn about winning a playoff series from the five teams who already have

Photo credit:© Steve Roberts-USA TODAY Sports
Lachlan Irvine
1 month ago
The Vancouver Canucks were supposed to be done with the Nashville Predators and preparing for the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs by Wednesday. Instead, they’ll play at least one more game tonight as the Edmonton Oilers wait to see if they’ll be spending their Marriott reward points at the Parq Vancouver.
Needless to say, but the Canucks have to win tonight. Not just because of the added pressure that comes with a 3-1 series lead and a Game 7, but also because no team could use as much recovery and rest time between rounds as the Canucks right now.
Besides the Oilers, four other teams have already moved on in these playoffs — the Rangers, Hurricanes, Avalanche and Panthers — finishing off their respective series’ in four or five games. So what did those teams accomplish that the Canucks haven’t yet?
If the Canucks have been watching their respective playoff teams, here are three things they’ll have made a note of.

Make a statement on the scoreboard

The Panthers’ 4-1 series win over the Lightning was as definitive as a gentleman’s sweep comes.
The Cats absolutely took it to the Andrei Vasilevskiy and the Lightning defence, with scoring so balanced that Dmitry Kulikov is the only Panther with zero points and more than one game played. Sam Reinhart has followed up his 57-goal season with three so far in the postseason, but it’s been Matthew Tkachuk and Carter “Clutch” Verhaeghe with five apiece that’ve led the charge.
Compare that to the Canucks, who have five players with 2+ games played and no points, and just one player with more than two goals: Brock Boeser. In fact, the Panthers have nearly doubled the Canucks in individual players with goals; Florida has 11 while Vancouver has just six.
The Hurricanes took those same aspirations to heart against the Islanders. Only two players are without points in 2+ games played, and twelve have at least one goal. And while their stars haven’t necessarily been world-beaters, they haven’t needed to be. Stefan Noesen has three of the Canes’ goals, but most of the offence has run through Seth Jarvis, who leads the team with three goals and seven points.
Vancouver is in desperate need for at least one decisive start on the scoreboard, and that has to either come from the stars or a new hero in the bottom six. If a less than 100% Elias Pettersson isn’t able to get the same velocity on his wrist shot as usual, then a Nils Höglander or Conor Garland needs to step up like they did during the regular season.

TRAFFIC. So much traffic.

During the Winnipeg Jets’ locker room clean out day, Connor Hellebuyck had some things to say about his shockingly rough showing in their quick 5-game exit.
“You’re probably not going to believe when I say I was playing some of the best hockey of my career,” Hellebuyck said.
“You have to give the Colorado Avalanche some kudos for what they did, but looking back, I don’t know if I even saw half of the pucks go in the net.”
That’s because the Avs figured out the best way to neutralize a hot goalie: never let him see the puck. The Avalanche took away all of the six-foot-four goalie’s vision by sending waves of traffic to the net, making it near impossible for him to track down any shots through the middle.
On the flipside, the Canucks’ biggest hurdle in this series has been the blocking efforts of the Predators in front of 5-foot-11 Juuse Saros, limiting how many of their shots are actually making it to the goal. Part of that is because the Canucks don’t send as many forwards to the net front, preferring to set up shots from the perimeter.
If the Canucks park an extra forward in front of Saros closer to the top of the circles while Quinn Hughes or Nikita Zadorov float in tippable shots, it could force the Predators defenders to play less aggressively on shot attempts and create more chances in close.

Beat the opponent, not yourself

In Game 2 of their series with the LA Kings, key mistakes at crucial times led the Oilers to a 5-4 loss in overtime and a tied series heading to Southern California. But thankfully for them, those were practically the only mistakes Edmonton made all series.
The Oilers are a team that, in the past, have been guilty of making their opponents’ lives easier by beating themselves. Edmonton is routinely the more talented opponent in a given playoff series, but have fallen apart at critical points in matchups against the likes of Winnipeg, Vegas and Anaheim.
The Rangers, on the other hand, have been the antithesis of that so far in these playoffs. Faced with the weakest first round matchup in the Capitals, New York still had to fend off strong play from Washington and regain control of games that they’d clawed their way back into. Even when the Capitals had pushed their way back into a tie game, the Rangers never let them get comfortable with it.
The Canucks have found themselves in that exact same spot a few times in this series, and the results have been a mixed bag. In Games 1 and 4, they were able to complete a pair of comebacks with quick clutch goals late in the third. But in Game 5, Nikita Zadorov’s icebreaking goal lulled his teammates into a false sense of security. The Predators smelled blood after tying the game four minutes later, and Alex Carrier’s goal with just over seven minutes to go was the dagger.
The Canucks have proven they can win games in this series even when they’re not putting their best foot forward. Just imagine what they can accomplish if they do.

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