The Vancouver Canucks want to close out a five-game road trip on a positive note when they battle the Minnesota Wild on Thursday at the Xcel Energy Center.
Entering Thursday’s bout to take on the Minnesota Wild, the Pacific Division-leading Vancouver Canucks will be very determined to secure two points before they return home for an important six-game homestand.
The Canucks will be playing their second of three meetings against the Wild this season, looking for back-to-back wins in Saint Paul. The last time these two teams faced off, Vancouver was able to overcome captain, Mikko Koivu and his gang of wild hockey players by a score of 4-1. Canucks captain, Bo Horvat stood out as the Canucks best player, something he would definitely enjoy doing again in order to help get his team another win.
Even if the Canucks fall in Minnesota, they can’t finish the road trip below 500, the point snagged in a shootout loss to Carolina took care of that, Nonetheless, a victory for Vancouver would be that much sweeter, and a 3-1-1 record would look a lot nicer than finishing the road trip even. Besides, the Canucks could use some motivation with Sedin Week just around the corner.
Players to watch
Brock Boeser: The once most valuable player in Vancouver, although he’s putting up quiet career numbers, is having a really tough time finding the back of the net off his own blade. He hasn’t scored in 10 games and hasn’t tallied a power play goal in 30 games. His puck luck in Minnesota has been better than normal, and its where it all started for Boeser. Look for him to play his best hockey in front of his family and friends.
Bo Horvat: The Canucks first-year captain has been something of a road warrior this year. He’s managed to hit the back of the net 17 times already and 12 of those goals have been on the road. The last time these two teams met in Minnesota, Horvat finished the game with two goals and arguably had his best game of the year. He was involved all over the ice for a full 60, that’s something you can count on from him every single night.
Eric Staal: The gameplay of Staal in Minnesota has been pretty wild, to say the least. He once looked like his best days were behind him, but he has rejuvenated himself playing in Saint Paul and he’s become a major piece on the depth chart as he leads the Wild in points. Through 52 games, Staal has 17 goals and 39 points. With five points in his last five games, look for Staal to keep his point production near a point per game.
Jason Zucker: It wasn’t very long ago that Zucker was rumoured to be on the Wild’s trade block. Time has passed and he still remains a big contributor for Minnesota. It was possible Vancouver was interested in him at one point or another, and if that’s still the case, Canucks fans should keep a close eye on the 28-year-old forward. With five points in his last five games, Zucker just might make a good trade chip if Minnesota falls out of the playoff picture.
Prediction: 5-2 Canucks
Vancouver will be hungry to win before they return home. The Pacific Division lead they hold isn’t getting any easier, but Vancouver could use a two-point bump to remain ahead of the pack. It’ll come down to who wants it more, but you have to favour the Canucks to come out on top.
They are the better team at every position and if all goes well, it shouldn’t be too difficult to find the win. Canucks can’t get lazy, they must push through as if their lives depend on it. I’ll say there is too much talent for Minnesota to handle, and thatVancouver wins it in regulation 5-2. Puck drops at 5 p.m..