Game 1 between the Vancouver Canucks and the Minnesota Wild is just two days away. Here is how the experts see it playing out.
The Vancouver Canucks are gearing up for their first postseason action in five years.
They’ll take to the ice Sunday against the Minnesota Wild in Game 1 of the qualifying round. The winner in this best-of-five will punch its ticket to the round of 16.
Vancouver and Minnesota were neck-and-neck in the regular season. Elias Pettersson and company finished one point ahead in the standings, but the Wild — who recorded three extra regulation victories — won two of the three meetings.
This series could really go either way. The Canucks have the better team on paper, but the Wild have certainly had their number in recent years. That said, NHL experts across the web are leaning heavily towards Vancouver in this series.
- The Hockey News: They’re picking the Canucks to win in four games
- NHL.com: 13 of the 16 experts chose the Canucks to get past the Wild in the qualifying round. For what it’s worth, none of them picked Vancouver to represent the Western Conference in the Stanley Cup Final.
- USA Today: Two of the three experts are choosing head coach Travis Green and company to get past Dean Evason and the Wild.
- Sportsnet: 16 of the 18 experts also have Vancouver defeating Minnesota.
- ESPN.com: 12 of 15 experts chose the Canucks.
As you can see, many are siding with a younger and faster Vancouver team that’s anchored by young stars in Pettersson, Brock Boeser, Bo Horvat, rookie Quinn Hughes plus veteran forward J.T. Miller and standout goalie Jacob Markstrom.
Of course, the Wild have a major advantage in the experience department. They made the postseason six years in a row from 2013 to 2018. Mats Zuccarello (73 playoff games), Zach Parise (97) and Eric Staal (58) have seen plenty of postseason action.
This promises to be a tight and close series, but given their superior forward depth, goaltending and overall skill, it’s easy to see why the Canucks are regarded as the favorite here.