Canucks gameday: Game 1 vs. the Minnesota Wild

Vancouver Canucks (Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images)
Vancouver Canucks (Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images) /
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The wait for Vancouver Canucks hockey is over. The series versus the Minnesota Wild gets started tonight in Edmonton. Here is what to expect in game one.

For Vancouver Canucks fans, any sort of playoff atmosphere has been a long time coming. Five years have passed since the team was bounced by the Calgary Flames in the first round, but something tells me this year is going to be completely different.

The Canucks and 15 other teams are set to battle it out in the first-ever Stanley Cup Qualifier. Separated by just a single point, Vancouver drew the Minnesota Wild as their opponent. With the home-ice advantage on their side, Bo Horvat will lead his team in a best-of-five clash versus Mikko Koivu and his band of bears.

An offensive juggernaut in the Canucks meeting a defensively sound team in the Wild spells for a tight and exciting series of action. Defense is known to win championships, but with Vancouver having a noticeable advantage in every other position on the ice, will it be enough for the Wild to survive game one?

Players to watch

Elias Pettersson: At each and every turn in his young NHL career, the second-year superstar has proven he can handle the pressure. The former Swedish league MVP has been waiting his entire life for this moment and he will come out absolutely flying for the Vancouver Canucks.

Kevin Fiala: A big-time talent on the rise in Minnesota, Fiala hit his stride this season and if it wasn’t for his great play, the Wild would be on the outside looking in. Pettersson is a favorable matchup for the 24-year-old in comparison to other experienced stars around the league, and he shouldn’t be underestimated.

Brock Boeser: Even though he was on pace for a career-high 65-point season, many people were disappointed in his goal-scoring efforts this year. A career-low 9.5% shot percentage led to only 16 goals. Since then, he’s changed his stick’s curve for the first time since PeeWee, and he looks healthy and ready to rock. Lots of reasons for his Minnesota-native to go bonkers on his childhood team.

Mathew Dumba: The 7th overall selection in the 2012 NHL Draft happens to be a playoff performer. Big body Dumba can throw his weight around when he needs to, and he’s arguably the team’s best young defender. His Black Lives Matters speech was quite moving to say the least. Can he use it as energy to burn in game one?

Prediction: 3-2 OTW Canucks

From the net out, Vancouver has the better team. Jacob Markstrom is an All-star goaltender who has the ability to put this entire series on his shoulders and run with it. If he can get his game under control and keep the score low, Vancouver has the firepower to overcome whichever netminder the Wild put in front of them.

Next. Canucks: 3 takeaways from exhibition game vs. Jets. dark

Puck drops at 7:30 PM Pacific time. Go Canucks go!