Predators Schenn, Canucks Hughes

Why The Canucks Will Win; And Why They Might Not

Why The Canucks Will Win

We’re talking about the series, not Game-1, although many times those two things go hand-in-hand.

The Canucks have more depth, slightly better special teams, and higher-end, high-end talent. Their depth up the middle is impressive with JT Miller, Elias Pettersson and Elias Lindholm.

The reasons this team should win the series are obvious. Depth, goaltending, special teams and exquisite blueliner Quinn Hughes. The key will be whether or not the 24-year-old tries to do too much on the big stage.

Hughes did have 16 points in 17 playoff games as a rookie, his only NHL postseason experience. Hopefully for him and his fans that bodes well.

Playoff hockey is a different animal and he’s inexperienced in this department as is most of the ‘homegrown’ core.

Fellow defenceman Ian Cole won two Stanley Cups with the Penguins. Forward Teddy Blueger won with Vegas last spring as a deadline addition and part-time playoff player.

There’s really no reason to point out all of the names and their strengths. Vancouver finished with ten more points and six more regulation wins than Nashville.

A win is what’s expected.

Why The Predators Will Win

It won’t be because of overconfidence from the Canucks. I heard one broadcaster make that suggestion. Not a chance. Even with less playoff experience than some of their Nashville adversaries, the Vancouver players are fully aware of the stakes and the effort required to get through Round-1. Overconfident assumptions will be the absolute last thing on their minds.

What could happen however is that breaks and bounces go Nashville’s way, or Juuse Saros consistently stands on his head and steals games, or the Preds generate some momentum, gain confidence, and get on a roll. Taking a Rogers Arena crowd out of a game will not be easy, if not somewhat impossible, but early leads will gradually take you there.

The un-quantifiable intangibles in the Stanley Cup Playoffs are numerous, just ask the 2006 Detroit Red Wings, or the 2010 Washington Capitals, or last season’s Boston Bruins. All Presidents Trophy winning teams that got bounced in the 1st-round.

There are dozens of other examples of upsets in just the last two decades.

For Nashville, D-man Ryan McDonagh and top line center Ryan O’Reilly are both recent Stanley Cup champs.

It’ll be interesting to see what emotional value former Canucks defenceman Luke Schenn brings to the table. Like McDonagh, although not fulltime, he helped Tampa win two Cups.

He was Hughes’s partner and protector much of the two previous seasons in Vancouver before moving on to ‘Smashville’.

The real way the lower seed could win this series is by somehow dominating in two key, good old fashioned areas: Special teams and goaltending.

Another one that takes it a bit deeper: Winning overtime games. It’s anybody’s match once regulation ends and the Predators will be just as capable of winning those nail-biters at 5-on-5 as the Canucks will be.

Vancouver beat the Predators all three times head-to-head this past campaign. To repeat the cliche’ – “the regular season means nothing”.

The wins came early; Nashville was the hotter team late.

The Canucks remind us of last season’s playoff upstart Seattle Kraken in one way; a team with a scorching hot 5-on-5 shooting percentage in the regular season, best in the NHL. If that wicked pace slows down, it’s trouble.

Both clubs are healthy but two key Canucks have been dinged up recently; goalie Thatcher Demko and winger Brock Boeser.

The Canucks are favourites for a reason, but the games aren’t played on paper. This series could go either way.

Drop the puck and let’s watch the greatest sport in the world.

Earlier Canucks:

Simmer and Gabby 10 – The Patrick Roy attack

Rob Simpson

Rob Simpson has covered the NHL in five different decades. He’s authored 4 books on hockey and is a veteran TV and radio play-by-play man and reporter.
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