Canucks gameday: Looking for answers vs. Vegas Golden Knights

EDMONTON, ALBERTA - AUGUST 23: Jake Virtanen #18 of the Vancouver Canucks watches a first period shot miss the net against Robin Lehner #90 of the Vegas Golden Knights in Game One of the Western Conference Second Round during the 2020 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Rogers Place on August 23, 2020 in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images)
EDMONTON, ALBERTA - AUGUST 23: Jake Virtanen #18 of the Vancouver Canucks watches a first period shot miss the net against Robin Lehner #90 of the Vegas Golden Knights in Game One of the Western Conference Second Round during the 2020 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Rogers Place on August 23, 2020 in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images) /
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The Vancouver Canucks were bested by the Vegas Golden Knights in Game 1 of the Western Conference semi-finals and they’ll need answers for the next bout.

The goal was to make it to the dance but after the Vancouver Canucks dethroned the reigning Stanley Cup champions in round 1 of the 2020 NHL Playoffs, this young core is hungry for more.

The list of competition doesn’t get any easier for Vancouver as all teams were reseeded ahead of the second round. Drawing the powerhouse Vegas Golden Knights, the Canucks were knocked off their highhorse and brought back down to reality. Sure, taking down the champions is great and all, but with a very quick turn around for game 1, Vancouver proved not ready for the onslaught of offensive domination for one of the NHL’s best overall teams.

It wasn’t a good showing by any of the Canucks’ best players. The usually “unforgetable five” turned in a very forgettable performance. Brock Boeser and Elias Pettersson didn’t register a single shot against Robin Lehner. Bo Horvat and J.T. Miller combined for just 3, and Quinn Hughes was finally exposed as “only human”. Together, they combined for a disasterous plus/minus -11.

Vancouver was outworked, out muscled, and flatout embarrassed by the NHL’s youngest team. They dialled in on Hughes giving him zero space, kept Pettersson on the perimeter, and got five goals past the Canucks’ MVP. Vancouver has a lot of work to do ahead of their Game 2 clash.

Players to watch

Jacob Markstrom: After being yanked from game 1, he’ll need to be the Canucks’ best player for game 2. 29 saves on 34 shots isn’t horrible, but to his standards it is. With a bit of a third period break you know he’ll be fresh and focused. I expect Markstrom to be lights out for Vancouver.

Ryan Reaves: He was an absolute beast in game 1. Sticking up for his goaltender with 11 hits, the leagues heaviest hitter went to town on the majority of the Vancouver Canucks roster. The bear got poked and the Canucks got bit. He’ll be every bit as dangerous moving forward. Canucks should avoid adding fuel to the fire.

Antoine Roussel: He chirped Lehner in the pregame warmup and it didn’t stop until Reaves put an end to it. Emotions boiled over and Roussel served a 10-minute misconduct for his actions. He’ll have to rethink his strategy if he wants to get the upperhand on his competition. Vancouver needs him to be better.

Robin Lehner: He closed the door vs. Vancouver and stopped 26 shots to earn his first NHL Playoffs shutout. The decision to start him over Marc-Andre Fleury still baffles me, but his 9-1 record since the three-way trade shows he’s doing something right. He’ll look to keep the door locked in game 2.

Prediction

It was a tough game for the stars of Vancouver but they have to willpower to fight back with a better performance moving forward. The Canucks have one of the best powerplays of the remaining eight teams and Vegas can’t keep the Canucks off the scoreboard forever. The stars will shine. 5-2 Canucks.

Next. The Canuck Way Mailbag: Golden Knights, Markstrom, Myers. dark

The puck drops at 6:45 PM Pacific time.