Vancouver Canucks captain Bo Horvat is confident in his team as they prepare for a best-of-five showdown against Zach Parise’s Minnesota Wild.
If all goes according to plan, the NHL will resume the 2019-20 season on Aug. 1, and the Vancouver Canucks will clash with the Minnesota Wild in a best-of-five qualifying round matchup.
The winner of the series will move on to the round of 16, where they’ll either play the Colorado Avalanche, Dallas Stars, St. Louis Blues or Vegas Golden Knights.
For Vancouver, this marks their first postseason appearance since 2015, and the first under head coach Travis Green. The likes of Elias Pettersson, Brock Boeser, Quinn Hughes and Jake Virtanen will get their first tastes of playoff action.
With the showdown (hopefully) now less than a month away, Canucks captain Bo Horvat expressed confidence that his club is ready for the challenge that awaits.
“I think they will be up for it,” Horvat said on Thursday, per David Satriano of NHL.com. “They know what it takes to win, and they know what playoff hockey is like. I think they are going to be ready for it. They have the game to suit the playoffs.”
Horvat also acknowledged that the Wild, who won two of the three regular season meetings, will pose a difficult matchup for the Canucks.
“It’s going to be tough,” Horvat said, via Satriano. “Minnesota has a good team and they were just starting to turn it on here before the whole pandemic started. I’m sure they are going to be ready for us just like we are going to be ready for them. It’s not going to be an easy matchup. They have some good players over there and they have some good playoff experience so we have to be on top of our game and ready to go for this series.”
On the other side, Wild winger Zach Parise — who’s played in 97 playoff games over 11 different seasons– offered praise for the young Canucks.
“You look for every advantage you can get,” Parise said, per Pete Jensen of NHL.com. “(The Canucks) do have a young, really skilled team that’s going to be good for a little while, the next few years. But if we can use that experience that we talk about as an advantage, being thrown right into this thing, we’ve got a lot of guys that have played in some pretty important games and big games. If that can give us any type of edge, we’ll take it.”
The Wild have quite the advantage here in regards to experience. They made the playoffs six years in a row from 2013 to 2018, though they only mustered a pair of series victories.
Parise (2012 with the New Jersey Devils) and Mats Zuccarello (2014 with the New York Rangers), have both appeared in the Stanley Cup Final. Kevin Fiala, Minny’s leading scorer, was on the 2016-17 Nashville Predators team that reached the Final, though he didn’t play in the series.
The Canucks and Wild have squared off once in the postseason. That was back in 2003, where Vancouver jumped out to a 3-1 series lead in the Western Conference semifinals. But the Wild, playing in just their third NHL season, stunned the Canucks by winning the next three games to book a trip to the conference finals.
17 years later, the Canucks will get the chance to put those painful memories away as they look to get past their former Northwest Division rivals in the best-of-five.