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Western Conference Round One: Canucks vs Nashville: Game One

April 21, 2024
- Kent Basky

For the first time since 2015, there's playoff hockey at Rogers Arena. Towel Power is back, as the Canucks open their first round series against the Nashville Predators.





I'm not saying it's been a long time since there was a home playoff game in Vancouver, but the last time fans bought playoff tickets we probably didn't imagine how bad the next 8 years would be, and apart from a loophole playoff appearance in 2020's bubble Cup, that we'd be missing out for that whole stretch.

It's been hard to be a Canucks fan, but not much harder than the post-2011 era. We've seen some shit. We endured almost a decade of excruciatingly bad management and coaching. We saw the final years of the Sedin Brothers frittered away, and we saw a team that for a while was Must See TV everytime they played turned into You Can't Make Me Watch This. Matt Bartkowski. Luca Sbisa. Jay Beagle. Michael Del Zotto. Loui Eriksson. Adam Gaudette. Markus Granlund. Erik Gudbranson. Olli Juolevi. Jayson Megna. Derrick Pouliot. Antoine Roussel. Tim Schaller. Jack Skille. Jake Virtanen. Like I said, we've seen some shit.

We went from Wizardous Sedinery to whatever the hell the last few years were. And while Jim Benning managed to acquire some of the core, it was what's happened since he was replaced by Jim Rutherford and Patrik Allvin. And even then, as they began to retool around this team's stars, it took another coaching change for everything to fall into place for the Canucks.

We'd love to tell you that we saw this coming. And we did get a hint that the dark days were coming to an end when Rick Tocchet took over behind the bench. But there's not a soul alive that had the Canucks not just making the playoffs, but being in the hunt for the Presidents' Trophy until the final days of the season. There's been lots of talk about the Canucks' high PDO, that so much of their success is based on luck. That's pretty insulting when you look at the way Tocchet and his coaching staff transformed this team, getting the entire roster to buy in on playing 200 ft hockey every night, and being accountable for every shift. I mean, he's turned Tyler Myers into a reliable NHL defenceman!

Sure, there's definite room for improvement, and this could all end in a few days, but there's an actual path to the Western Conference Finals here. Get out of the first round and amazing things can happen. Look at the 1982 run, where the Canucks, proud owners of a 77 point season, lost just two games in three rounds, knocking off Calgary, Los Angeles and Chicago before getting steamrolled by that juggernaut New York Islanders squad. It all starts with one win, and then anything can happen.

It's been said that as far as first round opponents go, this is the matchup that the Canucks should want. And there's some truth to that, given how these teams matched up this season. The Canucks swept the season series, outscoring Nashville 13-6. And while that came in the first half of the season, before the Preds went on their ridiculous tear, they've still struggled against contenders at times. At the end of the day, when you match these teams up on offence and goaltending, the Canucks have the edge, and should be able to advance to round two. We all remember the emergence of Thatcher Demko in the bubble playoffs, when he damn near stole the series from Vegas. Demko's been amazing this year, and eager to help lead the Canucks to victory.

What's going to get it done is a continuation of the team's mindset on defence. They've done a massive turnaround in terms of how much harder they are to generate offence against compared to the past few seasons, and do a fantastic job on breakouts when they win battles for loose pucks. They're much more physical than previous versions of the team, and in the past you'd think they'd struggle against a team like Nashville, but this season the Canucks showed physically they can go toe to toe with anyone.

What has to get better is secondary scoring. It was rolling early in the season, but dried up for long stretches. If we can get guys like Ilya Mikheyev, Elias Lindholm, Teddy Blueger and Sam Lafferty pitching in and taking a bit of the load off Elias Pettersson, JT Miller, Brock Boeser and Quinn Hughes. And hey, the trend of getting more scoring from the back end was a pleasant surprise this season, and will definitely help them if they want to advance.

It will be interesting to see how Tocchet handles that top Nashville line of Filip Forsberg, Ryan O'Reilly and Gustav Nyqvist. They could throw the Miller/Boeser/Suter line, or go with Lindholm, Dakota Joshua and Conor Garland.

They'll also need the once terrifying power play to become a threat again. It's fallen off badly, but if they can just simplify things and get back to what was working, it'll be a deterrent the way it was earlier in the year.


It is my pleasure to let you know that these potential Game One lineups are according to the ol' nhl dot com thingy:

Predators projected lineup

Filip Forsberg -- Ryan O'Reilly -- Gustav Nyquist

Mark Jankowski -- Colton Sissons -- Jason Zucker

Anthony Beauvillier -- Tommy Novak -- Luke Evangelista

Cole Smith -- Michael McCarron -- Kiefer Sherwood

Ryan McDonagh -- Roman Josi

Jeremy Lauzon -- Alexandre Carrier

Spencer Stastney -- Luke Schenn

Juuse Saros

Kevin Lankinen

Scratched: Tyson Barrie, Jaret Anderson-Dolan, Cody Glass, Dante Fabbro, Gustavs Grigals

Injured: None

Canucks projected lineup

Pius Suter -- J.T. Miller -- Brock Boeser

Nils Hoglander -- Elias Pettersson -- Sam Lafferty

Dakota Joshua -- Elias Lindholm -- Conor Garland

Phillip Di Giuseppe -- Teddy Blueger -- Ilya Mikheyev

Quinn Hughes -- Filip Hronek

Carson Soucy -- Tyler Myers

Ian Cole -- Nikita Zadorov

Thatcher Demko

Casey DeSmith

Scratched: Mark Friedman, Nils Aman, Noah Juulsen, Vasily Podkolzin, Arturs Silovs

Injured: None

Both teams head into this series 'healthy', and with no shocking lineup moves. It is a little surprising that PDG is in over Podkolzin, but unless he lights it up, expect that to change as the series goes on. Other than that, the lines are pretty much the same as the past few contests for the Canucks.



We've been waiting so damn long for this, it's time to get loud, friends! Let's crank up some of Ireland's finest and make sure you've got the beverages chilled. Playoff hockey is back, so Shut Up and Shout!

We're stoked to have been able to spend this season actually enjoying Canucks hockey again, as well as playoffs on Rogers Arena ice. Here's to a long run, and bringing 54 years of heartbreak and frustration to a close. Enjoy the game everyone! Go Canucks Go!


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