The Vancouver Canucks defeated the Colorado Avalanche by a score of 5-1 on Saturday night, moving right back into a playoff spot. Here are three takeaways from Saturday’s game.
Contrary to what Vancouver Canucks fans are used to seeing from this year’s team, the Canucks came out absolutely firing right out of the gate. This team has picked up many wins after having relatively slow starts, but that wasn’t the case Saturday night.
Before the game was even five minutes old, Jake Virtanen made a bee-line to the net and tipped in a saucer pass from Antoine Roussel, with a very power forward-esque move from the young Virtanen. Shortly thereafter, Brock Boeser found the back of the net with a beautiful wrist shot past Semyon Varlamov. Elias Pettersson picked up an assist on the goal.
Here are my three takeaways from Saturday’s showdown in Denver.
Canucks pull ahead of Avalanche in the playoff race
With the win, the Canucks become the sole possessors of the second wild-card spot in the West. Prior to Saturday’s game, the Canucks were tied with the Avalanche for the last playoff spot and points at 52. Here is how the playoff picture is looking.
If the playoffs started today, our Canucks would be facing the Calgary Flames in the first round. The season series with the Flames is actually in favour of the Canucks, who have won two of the three games the teams have played.
Pulling off an upset in the playoffs from a wild-card spot is no easy task, and with the way the 33-win Flames have played this season, with their solid combination of grit and skill- the task could be made even harder if the Canucks were to match up with them. Nonetheless, it would be an interesting playoff series to say the least.
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Jacob Markstrom stays hot
We have talked about it time and time again. Jacob Markstrom has been a big reason as to why the Canucks are where they are in the standings, and I mentioned in a previous article that Markstrom will play a major factor in whether or not the Canucks stay in the playoff picture.
Early in the first period, the Avalanche had more than a few quality chances, but Markstrom proved to be up to the challenge, stopping all 11 shots he faced in the opening frame.
Markstrom continued his strong play after the first period, stopping 34 of the 35 shots he faced. The lone goal that got past Markstrom was one that took an odd bounce in front, a changeup that beat him over the left shoulder.
Aside from that goal, Markstrom looked dialed in. He made countless key saves when the ice looked tilted in the Avalanche’s favour, and in turn, kept his team in the game all the way to the final horn. Perhaps his best of the game was this huge save on Tyson Barrie, that Markstrom would later attribute to his size 12-13 skates in a post-game interview with CBC’s Scott Oake.
If the Canucks want to keep their playoff hopes alive, Markstrom will need to continue to be a rock in goal for the team, as he was Saturday night.
Nikolay Goldobin should stay in the lineup
This is my takeaway from Goldobin’s defensive performance. He didn’t dazzle, and he didn’t make any outstanding defensive plays. However, he didn’t have any costly turnovers or defensive gaffes, either. He also seemed to have a little more hustle on defense tonight, something I’m sure the coaching staff appreciated.
Although the conversation as of late has surrounded Goldobin’s play away from the puck, how about his play with it on his stick? Goldobin was put right back on the top line alongside Pettersson and Boeser and showcased the chemistry the trio share that The Canuck Way’s Chris Faber talked about in one of his most recent articles.
Goldobin not only scored a goal on the power play but was an offensive threat on that top line all night long. He almost had another goal after a beautiful set-up from Pettersson, and although he didn’t score, the play shows how Goldobin and Pettersson have some good chemistry together.
Let’s recap. The Canucks are the sole possessors of a playoff spot, Markstrom looks like he hasn’t missed a beat, and Goldobin made good on his return to the lineup. I expect to see Goldobin back in the lineup on the same line with Pettersson and Boeser for the next game at the very least. We will see if this is indeed the case Monday night when the Canucks take on the Philadelphia Flyers.