Tyler Toffoli will make his Vancouver Canucks debut as they look to bust out of their slump against the Minnesota Wild tonight.
The Vancouver Canucks have conquered plenty of adversity up to this point, but they’re about to be battle-tested like never before.
Micheal Ferland is done for the season, and Brock Boeser is unlikely to return before the regular season ends. General manager Jim Benning acquired Los Angeles Kings forward Tyler Toffoli on Monday evening, hoping that the veteran scorer will help offset the losses of two top-nine forwards.
Toffoli will look to provide a boost to a Vancouver team that has dropped five of its last seven games, moving down from first to third in the Pacific Division. Toffoli, who was part of the 2014 Stanley Cup-winning Kings team, will be relied upon heavily down the stretch.
Wednesday’s showdown with the Minnesota Wild marks the fifth contest in Vancouver’ six-game homestand, which concludes on Saturday night against the Boston Bruins. Every point matters more than ever as the Canucks try to end a five-year playoff drought.
Players to watch
Tyler Toffoli: All eyes will be on the newcomer. There won’t be any shortage of opportunities for Toffoli, who will surely get top-six minutes and some looks on the power play.
Eric Staal: One of the few core players who hasn’t been traded out of Minnesota (yet), Staal leads the team with 41 points. However, he’s been held pointless in both meetings against Vancouver this season.
Elias Pettersson: The Canucks need Pettersson more than ever now. He’ll be without his top sniper for the remainder of the year. Hopefully, Boeser’s absence won’t affect Petterson’s production too much. We’ve seen him flourish with different linemates, after all. Can Pettersson and J.T. Miller make the most of their new linemate, whoever that may be?
Zach Parise: Age hasn’t slowed down the 35-year-old Parise in the slightest. He leads Minnesota in goals (21), with 11 of those coming on the power play. Parise scored in the Feb. 6 meeting, a 4-2 win for Minnesota.
Prediction: 4-3 Canucks (overtime)
The Wild always seem to play Vancouver tough, and even though they sold off a valuable asset in Jason Zucker to the Pittsburgh Penguins, there’s still enough firepower up front to keep pace with the Canucks.
When all is said and done, however, I expect Vancouver’s young stars to rise to the occasion. This is arguably the most pivotal game of the 2019-20 season, and the Canucks can’t afford another home loss to a non-playoff team.
Pettersson, Toffoli and Bo Horvat net the goals in regulation, and Pearson puts it away in overtime as the Canucks skate away with two valuable points.