Canucks: Latest playoff format has a potential Wild rivalry

Mikael Granlund of the Minnesota Wild is stopped by goaltender Eddie Lack (Photo by Ben Nelms/Getty Images)

If the latest playoff format were to be accepted, the added play-in series would rekindle a heated rivalry between the Vancouver Canucks and Minnesota Wild.

It’s been more than a decade since the Vancouver Canucks considered the Minnesota Wild a heated rival. Splitting them from the same division back in 2013-14 when the divisions realigned may have had something to do with that, but if the NHL and NHLPA’s latest playoff proposal gets accepted, their once hot hatred for one another could quickly escalate into an all-out wildfire.

According to TSN, a 24-team playoff format has gained some serious traction these last few days and is being highly considered between both parties as the best possible option to resume play of the 2019-20 season. Not everything is concrete on how it would all work, but one thing is certain. The top four teams from each conference would earn a bye-week, while the remaining eight teams from each conference would go head-to-head in a best-of-five series.

This latest proposal would pit the Vancouver Canucks (7) versus the Minnesota Wild (10) in an absolute dog fight to determine who would advance to the traditional 16-team playoff. A heated rivalry of the past would quickly come crashing to the forefront with nothing but fast-paced, hard-hitting, and well-played hockey.

With the roster almost back to full health the Canucks would be a difficult opponent for the Wild to contend with. Vancouver is a better team than most people give them credit for and Benning has done a remarkable job creating a rough and tough club that strives in a playoff atmosphere.

Outside the Ovechkin-like one-timer from Vancouver’s star forward Elias Pettersson, the Canucks are actually loaded with multiple scoring options up front. On top of that, Quinn Hughes and J.T. Miller have helped put the first unit power play on the map, and Jacob Markstrom is an All-Star goaltender who’s proven he can single-handedly steal games on command.

Regardless, with both teams itching for playoff hockey the past few seasons, this best-of-five series would be mouthwatering. Brock Boeser facing his hometown team in his first-ever play-in series would be worth watching on its own, let alone having two rested teams just clobber each other. The Wild still have some mean players that could bring the fire, but I know the Canucks would be happy to answer back with big body guys like Jake Virtanen and Micheal Ferland.

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It would simply come down to who wants it more. Canucks vs. Wild, if it happens, it’s going to be an exciting and energy-filled series that sparks an old rivalry and makes it new again.

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