Canucks: A comeback starts with containing Golden Knights’ top forwards

EDMONTON, ALBERTA - AUGUST 29: Jonathan Marchessault #81 of the Vegas Golden Knights celebrates a goal by teammate Mark Stone (not pictured) against the Vancouver Canucks during the third period in Game Three of the Western Conference Second Round during the 2020 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Rogers Place on August 29, 2020 in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
EDMONTON, ALBERTA - AUGUST 29: Jonathan Marchessault #81 of the Vegas Golden Knights celebrates a goal by teammate Mark Stone (not pictured) against the Vancouver Canucks during the third period in Game Three of the Western Conference Second Round during the 2020 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Rogers Place on August 29, 2020 in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /
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If the Vancouver Canucks are to get back in this series, they’ll have to find a way to slow down the Vegas Golden Knights’ top forwards.

The Vancouver Canucks‘ thrilling and entertaining 2019-20 season could end as soon as Tuesday night.

The Vegas Golden Knights have proven to be a superior team in just about every aspect: Speed, skill, depth, physicality, defence, structure and coaching. Jacob Markstrom was supposed to give Vancouver a pivotal advantage in goal, but that hasn’t been the case through the first four games.

Plenty of things will have to go right for the Canucks if they’re to win these next three games. Markstrom simply has to be better, and as I wrote about here, the bottom six forwards have to start contributing offensively.

Not only that, but Vancouver won’t stand a chance of coming back if they can’t contain the dominance and production of the Golden Knights’ top forwards.

Veteran power forward Max Pacioretty has five points (four goals, one assist). Speedy winger Alex Tuch has three goals and one assist. World-class two-way forward and takeaway artist Mark Stone has six points (two goals, four assists). Reilly Smith has chipped in nicely with a goal and two assists.

And yet, it’s actually blueliner Shea Theodore (seven assists) who leads Vegas in scoring this series.

There’s just no way the Canucks can expect to come back in this series if they allow the Golden Knights’ best forwards to do that much damage on the score sheet.

Vancouver did a fine job in limiting the production of the St. Louis Blues’ top scorers (with the exception of Ryan O’Reilly) in the first round. But the blueliners, bottom six and Markstrom have been completely overwhelmed by the likes of Pacioretty, Tuch and Stone.

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They have to take it one game at a time from here, and the No. 1 key to victory the rest of the way is plain and simple for the Canucks: Contain the opposition’s best forwards.