The ideal matchups
Nashville Predators: The Preds have regained their old, dominant form under interim coach John Hynes, boasting a 12-8-1 record under his watch. But Vancouver scored 17 goals in the three-game season series sweep of the Preds.
Nashville goalies have combined for a porous .903 save percentage and a 2.96 goals against average. Defenceman Roman Josi leads the team in scoring with 57 points, and Filip Forsberg (42) is a distant second here.
In short, Vancouver shouldn’t worry too much about a team with leaky goaltending and a lack of pop in their offence. Did I mention that the Canucks easily swept the season series?
Arizona Coyotes: They were a nice story in the first half, but the Coyotes have been slumping miserably in the new year. As expected, goalie Darcy Kuemper has come back to earth after carrying an extremely flawed team through December.
A lack of firepower up front (Nick Schmaltz leads Arizona with 42 points) makes the Coyotes a very minor threat to Vancouver. There just isn’t enough skill here to keep up with Elias Pettersson and company in a best-of-seven series.
Arizona’s stingy defence might keep the games close but the Canucks would have the advantage all across the board: Up front, on the blue line and in the crease. If everything goes right for Vancouver, they would draw the Coyotes in round one — although it’s hard to envision them getting in at this point.
There is still a long ways to go, and the playoffs aren’t a gimme for the Canucks yet. But if they can draw a favorable first round matchup — and if Vegas were to be upset along the way — Vancouver could be looking at a clear path to the Western Conference Final.
But for now, the focus is on making the postseason while locking down home ice advantage in round one. Vancouver can worry about their possible playoff opponents another day.