Vancouver Canucks: 3 keys to victory over the Vegas Golden Knights

LAS VEGAS, NV - MARCH 20: Ryan Reaves
LAS VEGAS, NV - MARCH 20: Ryan Reaves /

With yesterday’s news of the Sedins retiring sending shock waves across Canucks nation, much emphasis is being placed on these last 3 games as must watch TV. The Vegas Golden Knights roll into town looking to sweep the season series against the Vancouver Canucks.

As the season comes to a close at the end of the week, there are a lot of emotions that Vancouver Canucks fans are feeling. Issues like the Sedins retiring, the sudden winning streak, and the fact Brock Boeser remains out of the lineup, has Canucks fans tossing and turning at night.

It makes us ask ourselves a lot of questions. Do we want the team to win to send the Sedins out on a high note? Or should the team lose these next three to keep their hopes for a top draft pick alive?

Most people tend to find themselves on one extreme or the other, but I believe there can be a happy middle-ish ground.

What if the Canucks lose, but the Sedins get points in those games? Not only will the team be able to maintain its draft odds, we get to see the Sedins do what they love to do: produce.

As much as it pains me to say, winning these games just for the Sedins could actually have a major negative impact on the Canucks future.

If the Canucks win these next three games, they could potentially move up to 23rd place in the league, causing their draft lottery odds to drop from 8.5% to 5.0%.  This could possibly see the Canucks pick from any where between 9-12 (barring that they don’t actually win the draft lottery).

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If they lose the remaining three games, they can stay at 8.5% or even move their odds up to 13.5% with some wins by teams lower than them in the standings.

Lets be honest, the Canucks losing these games will have little to no impact on what have been fantastic careers by Henrik and Daniel Sedin. It will not tarnish their legacy one bit.

So why bother winning these games just for the sake of “for Henrik and Daniel”. They have already won a lot in their careers, these wins will be meaningless for them. Its not time to make decisions based on the Sedins, but what is best for the team.

If the guys play hard in these remaining games, and the fans show up to give their love and admiration, then the Sedins will be perfectly happy with their send off.

Its not about winning and losing. Its just about losing. #TankNation

With that being said, here are your 3 keys to “victory” for tonight’s game!

Don’t turn game into a track meet

If the Canucks let this game go goal or goal, then they will surely lose. The Golden Knights are the fourth highest scoring team in the league, and boast five 20+ goal scorers. Their leading goal scorer William Karlsson has 42 goals, while their lowest 20+ goal scorer Reilly Smith has 22 goals.

For perspective, the Canucks currently have two 20+ goal scorers on the active roster, Bo Horvat and Daniel Sedin. Both of them have 21 goals each.

Related Story: Canucks: Sedins make the right choice to retire

Them combined would just match Karlsson’s total, and their individual production which is good for first on the Canucks, would be 6th on the Golden Knights team.

In short, don’t give these Knights many quality opportunities because they will capitalize.

Slow the game down

A lot of the Golden Knights game is based on attacking off the rush. This works to their advantage since they are a very fast team with skill (something of which the Canucks should try and emulate over the upcoming years).

While there is not a surefire way to contain skill, there is a definite way to slow a team down. That can be accomplished by clogging the neutral zone and making it harder for them to enter the attacking end. This can allow the Canucks to limit their tenacious forecheck and reduce quality chances against.

Not only that, it won’t allow the Knights to develop any momentum and in turn help the Canucks counter with more impunity.

Win the even strength battle

The Knights are ranked both eighth in powerplay and penalty kill, while the Canucks rank 10th and 22nd respectively in those categories.

The game will be decided on how well the Canucks can cope on even strength, because the special teams match up is heavily in favour of the Knights.  As mentioned earlier, if you give these Knights opportunity, they will seize it.

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The Canucks need to play a clean game, and use their powerplay time wisely. That may not necessarily mean scoring on their powerplay, but if they can use it to build momentum, then that can help them win the even strength battle moving forward.