Canucks Playoff Notebook: More Silovs, the Canucks’ underdog status, and more storylines to watch

Photo credit:Steve Roberts-USA TODAY Sports
Lachlan Irvine
1 month ago
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The Vancouver Canucks didn’t make their first round win easy. Heck, they never do. But when push came to shove, Brock Boeser put a perfect pass on the stick of Pius Suter, and he buried the puck blocker side on Juuse Saros to send the Nashville Predators packing.
Now, Vancouver is preparing to welcome a new challenge: Connor McDavid and the Edmonton Oilers.
Despite winning all four meetings between these two sides during the regular season and having home ice advantage, the Canucks are far and away the underdogs against the mighty Oilers. And for a team with some questions still left to answer, that’s a great position to be in.
All the pressure heading into the next four to seven games lies with the Oilers, the team with the greatest player in the game and without a single conference final win in his nine years there. And if they want to keep them and Leon Draisaitl happy, forward progress is a necessity.
The Canucks’ contention window is potentially just opening. Elias Pettersson, J.T. Miller and Quinn Hughes should all have more than one kick at the can, so long as the Canucks’ front office keep stocking the depth cupboard with a strong supporting cast. The defence has punched above their weight class (but below their height) so far in this postseason, and the goaltending has held steady despite every possible reason not to.
And the fact of the matter is, this is the matchup the Canucks probably wanted. Not because of a potential advantage, but because there’s something intrinsically crucial about beating the presumed best to become the best. Nothing can change a team’s trajectory like a major upset, and that moment is on the table for these Canucks.
Who wants to make some history?

Arty Party

You knew this series was over the moment J.T. Miller wore his Arturs Silovs’ pink shirt onto the ice.
Arturs Silovs’ performance against the Predators was, in my opinion, some of the best goaltending the Canucks have ever gotten in a playoff series. Even though he had just nine games of NHL experience coming into Game 4 in Nashville, Silovs looked calm and collected in all three starts. Shots through traffic, in close scrambles, crucial penalty kills; none of them fazed Silovs through three games he played. And in the final game, he put together a 28 save shutout to send his team to Round 2.
According to MoneyPuck, Silovs’ Goals Saved Above Expected of 2.8 is the sixth highest among playoff goalies with at least three games played, and two of the goalies ahead of him are either already out or on the bench. Has Silovs not closed the door in the series finale, it’s easy to imagine there would’ve been more hard feelings on Casey DeSmith’s part, considering he’d played admirably in Game 3 before an injury took him out.
Now, Silovs has almost certainly earned the chance to play out the stretch against the Edmonton Oilers, and if his most recent run is any indication, he’s able to challenge Stuart Skinner in the goaltending department head on. And what a difference that could be if Thatcher Demko doesn’t need to make a hasty early return from injury and save the season.

M-V-Pius and the next hero

Personally, I like to think that friend of the blog J.D. Burke knew exactly what he was doing when he posted this on Friday.
When you tempt the hockey gods with an outcome that juicy, they rarely disappoint. And Pius Suter deserved his hero moment maybe more than any other Canuck.
If close calls counted for goals, Suter could have about 12 of them after the Nashville series. But considering he was able to play in this game at all after taking a puck to the face in Game 5, Suter probably won’t lose much sleep over how everything played out.
So which Canuck will step up in the second round against the Oilers? Hopefully it’ll be Elias Pettersson, who’s obviously struggled so far in the postseason and could really use a big game to get the doubters off his back. But from the depth side of things, the Canucks could sure use some bigger performances from Nils Höglander. Höglander fits the description of a playoff forward perfectly, but it just hasn’t translated over yet. If recent history is any indication, maybe the Oilers are just the tonic he needs.

Storylines to keep an eye on

The Canucks and Oilers might be about to take up 90 percent of our attention, but that doesn’t mean the other three series aren’t worth at least another five percent.
  • Remember the last time the Bruins won a first round series with an overtime win in Game 7? Yeah, me neither.
    The Panthers looked nearly invincible in their first round series against the Lightning, but you can’t count Boston out in this second round series. They have the roster to compete with Florida at every turn, and that’s before adding in the revenge factor at play after being embarrassed by the Cats in last year’s first round. This series feels like it will either be a Panthers victory that goes the distance, or a very quick Bruins takedown.
  • Colorado is a team I didn’t give enough credit to going into the playoffs, and apparently the Jets didn’t either. Sure, the goaltending of Alex Georgiev is still a major question mark. But if the Avs can make a future Vezina winner in Connor Hellebuyck look that pedestrian the world’s their oyster, regardless of whether they’re playing Dallas or Vegas next.
  • Rangers-Hurricanes might be the series that flies the most under the radar, considering the storylines at play in every other matchup. But these two teams couldn’t be more evenly matched on paper. The biggest x-factor will likely be the goalies: at 34 years old and with a lot of hard miles on his body, Freddy Andersen sure has his work cut out for him against an ultra consistent Igor Shesterkin. The Canes are also playing with some more desperation than New York; Carolina’s been “on the cusp” for a long time now, and if they still can’t win a single conference final game it’s hard to imagine they’ll get a lot more tries as built.
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