Head to Head: How the Vancouver Canucks and Predators match up

A head-to-head comparison of the Vancouver Canucks and the Nashville Predators ahead of their first-round playoff series.
The Vancouver Canucks are set to face the Nashville Predators in the first round of the playoffs.
The Vancouver Canucks are set to face the Nashville Predators in the first round of the playoffs. / Donald Page/GettyImages
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Goalies

Thatcher Demko: 51 GP, 35 W, 14 L, 2 OTL, 2.45 GAA, .918 SV%

Juuse Saros: 64 GP, 35 W, 24 L, 5 OTL, 2.86 GAA, .906 SV%

Juuse Saros has struggled in his last few games, but he was excellent during the Predators’ 18-game point streak earlier in the season. Saros is best in the big moments so the Canucks can expect to see him at his best in the playoffs.

Thatcher Demko was in the running for the Vezina Trophy until going down with a knee injury. He came back on Tuesday, stopping 39 shots in a 4-1 win. He didn’t look quite as sharp in Thursday’s loss to the Winnipeg Jets, although a number of core Canucks players skipped the game to prepare for the playoffs. Demko will be a major part of any playoff success the Canucks have.

The sheer dominance Demko has displayed this season gives him the point here, but Saros is very worthy competition. There will be no soft goals this series.

Casey DeSmith: 29 GP, 12 W, 9 L, 6 OTL, 2.89 GAA, .896 SV%

Kevin Lankinen 24 GP, 11 W, 6 L, 0 OTL, 2.82 GAA, .908 SV%

Kevin Lankinen and Casey DeSmith are ideal backup goalies — although DeSmith’s performance during Demko’s absence might make you doubt that. Both guys are able to take some weight off of the starter’s shoulders and, for the most part, you don’t have to cover your eyes and peek between your fingers when they’re in net. They’re usually pretty reliable but you’d rather play your starter.

It’s unlikely that either guy plays during this series unless Saros or Demko get injured, but Lankinen gets the point here because he’s been a bit more consistent than DeSmith.

Coaches

Rick Tocchet: 50 W, 23 L, 9 OTL

Andrew Brunette: 47 W, 30 L, 5 OTL

Both Andrew Brunette and Rick Tocchet could finish as finalists for the Jack Adams Trophy this season, the way they’ve accomplished the unexpected this season. Brunette helped his team turn around its season after it looked like they might miss out on the playoffs. He strung together an 18-game point streak, landing the Predators in the playoffs.

Tocchet took the Canucks, a perennial Wild Card Three team, and launched them up to the top of the standings — something nobody had on their bingo cards this season. He found a way to unlock the potential of virtually every player, from the superstars all the way down to the fourth-liners.

These are two of the best coaches in the league, and it’s impossible to choose between the two. This one’s a draw.

The “On Paper” Series Champion

Canucks: 14, Predators: 6.

It’s no surprise that the team with the better regular season record is the better team on paper. However, the NHL playoffs are so exciting because the moment the puck drops, it’s anyone’s game.

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(Statistics provided by NHL.com and Hockey-Reference)