WDYTT: Who has been the Vancouver Canucks’ best blueliner in the playoffs?

Photo credit:© Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
Stephan Roget
1 month ago
Welcome back to WDYTT, the only hockey column on the internet that just keeps putting another one in the book.
Speaking of one in the book, Round One is…not quite there yet. As of this writing, the Vancouver Canucks missed out on their first opportunity to eliminate the Predators in Game 5, and are headed back to Nashville for Game 6.
There’s a chance you’re reading this far enough in the future to know what happened in Game 6, but if that’s the case, please don’t spoil it for us!
In any case, Round One is what we’re here to talk about today. You know, sometimes we ask a WDYTT question because we think it will elicit some interesting responses. On rarer occasions, we ask a question to which we genuinely don’t know the answer and thus want to poll the fanbase about.
This week’s question is of the latter variety.
At most points over the past few years, the question of who the Canucks’ best defender was had an obvious and clear-cut answer in the form of Quinn Hughes.
And he’s got a strong case to still be that answer through the first portion of the 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs, having put together one of the quietest point-per-game series in recent memory.
But the rest of the blueline has stepped up so ably as to make it a legitimate debate.
Really, from where we’re sitting, there’s a case to be made about each and every one of the rest of the blueline – and we’d like you to make those cases.
This week, we’re asking:

Who has been the Canucks’ best blueliner in Round One of the Stanley Cup Playoffs?

Let it be known in the comment section.
Last week, we asked:

Which Canuck has/will step it up the most for Round One of the Stanley Cup Playoffs?

You answered below!
Hockey Bunker:
Whole team needs to step up.
One player can’t make a difference in a team game like hockey without his teammates playing 100%.
With apologies to Ryan Kesler, 19 others had to play well to win the series.
Game-planning the Nashville “block everything “ strategy is most important.
Changing angles, faking shots to get Nashville to overcommit.
Things like that.
Every player can play better and they will.
Vinny Jack:
Pettersson really needs to go “beast mode,” and dictate play in the offensive zone. I am suggesting that Tocchet put back together the “Lotto Line,” to get Pettersson on a role.
Two pending FAs have earned contracts, and the rest are just producing “on paper.” Let’s see if the top-six and top-four d-men have another gear?
(Winner of the author’s occasional award for prescience)
Canucks have had some great efforts from Miller, Hughes, Zed, Garland, and Dak. These guys have been the best players.
I think Boeser will be guy to step it up next by way of sniping a few goals. He does have one assist so far, but I think he won’t be kept out of the goal-scoring category for long and come alive.
defenceman factory:
(Winner of the author’s weekly award for eloquence)
I find myself rooting for Pettersson to be the resurgent player to have a big impact on this series. Unfortunately it won’t likely be him who emerges as the difference-maker. He doesn’t look right physically and his confidence looks irredeemable in the short term.
It is the players who have been the biggest difference-makers all season most likely to win this series for the Canucks.
There are two pending UFAs who I do think have been good and will also be factors for the rest of the series. Myers was good in Game 1. The increased tolerance of infractions and reduced need to fight in the playoffs are good for Myers. He has ramped up his physicality. Despite his sometimes chaotic play, he is determined to win and earn a good paying job next season.
The other is Lindholm. He has looked good between Garland and Joshua and has a lot at stake on his performance these playoffs. The coaches have to help Lindholm. With minor adjustments, his line’s forecheck can be better than last game and the defensive structure of the Preds can be spread out more.
Looking at some data from NHL EDGE, the Canucks are spending a lot of time in the offensive zone. Unfortunately, they averaged over three shots per-minute they were in the O-zone. The data also shows the Canucks and well below average in distance skated and in speed bursts. They need to attack off the rush more and once the D-structure gets set up, they need to wear them down by being more patient with their shot attempts.
If the Canucks are to win, it has to be DeSmith. It doesn’t matter what anyone else does if DeSmith doesn’t step up.
Everyone, another 20%.
Craig Gowan:
As he has done all season, Hughes has stepped up and will continue to step up. He remains our most important player. I have noticed Big Zed (Zadorov) stepping up big time in the playoffs. His play has convinced me the Canucks should extend him despite a high price/ long-time (within reason.) He’s playing like a top-four D so far. Miller, Joshua, and Garland have also stepped up and will continue to do so, I expect. Boeser and Höglander have been terribly disappointing (I don’t think Boeser has the speed to keep up to the playoff pace). With Demko out and Petey playing so poorly (I believe Game 2 of this series was the worst game I have ever seen Petey play for the Canucks), this will be a difficult series to win. I am not optimistic.
I think it will be JT Miller. Their line has been good, but hasn’t scored. I think that changes tonight.
Stephan Roget:
Most folks will say Brock Boeser after his Game 4 hattrick, or one of Casey DeSmith or Arturs Silovs after their Game 3 and 4 performances, respectively. But the real answer is the Vancouver blueline as a whole.
Quinn Hughes hasn’t had a fantastic series as of yet, but the defence of the team has still been a strength, and that’s kind of remarkable. All six of the other defenders to play in this series have stepped it up to a certain degree. If we’re narrowing it down to one individual, we’d give it to shot-blocking extraordinaire Ian Cole – but each and every one of them is worthy of a shout-out to a certain extent.
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