Aidan Battley The Hockey Writers
3 Canucks to Watch For Against the Wild
Now that the Vancouver Canucks training camp 2.0 is said and done, it is time to set our sights to the Minnesota Wild series. We all know that Zack Macewen, Adam Gaudette and Quinn Hughes had good camps, but who do I expect to have good series that may have flown under the radar?
In this article, we are going to look at three players in no particular order, that I think will shine in the first Canucks playoff appearance in five years. These names all bring something unique that the Canucks need to take advantage of if they want to make it past the Minnesota Wild.
I like to think this is a name that people don’t talk about as much as they should because they are afraid of losing him in the offseason. Tyler Toffoli has been a revelation since joining the Canucks, and has deserved every ounce of praise thus far.
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For the majority of camp, Toffoli has seen himself jump Brock Boeser in the lineup playing with Elias Pettersson and J.T Miller on the top-line. This is nothing against Brock Boeser, who also had a strong camp, but mainly due to the ability to complement these stars that stem from his style of play.
Toffoli’s impact on the team will be two-fold. Firstly, his strong performances will help the team directly, but they also may have more of an indirect effect on the previously mentioned Boeser. If the former can take the top-line matchup, this allows an elite scoring option to be deployed with Bo Horvat and one of Tanner Pearson or Michael Ferland.
Therefore, if Toffoli performs, then the spillover effect it will have on the team will almost certainly be a series-changer and may make him amongst the most valuable to the side.
Yet another name that to me was not nearly discussed enough was Chris Tanev. After enjoying a solid camp, partnering the all-star Quinn Hughes, Tanev makes a case for being the second most impactful defenceman on the team.
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Tanev’s defensive game has been steady throughout his career and has resulted in his play being somewhat under-appreciated. Nonetheless, this season he has seen strong chemistry with Hughes and as such, seen his offensive numbers jump as well. Although 20 points from the blue-line are hardly game-breaking, it represents a steady improvement in one of the league’s most reliable defensemen. His two-way game is consistently improving, and as such he will de a difference-maker in these playoffs.
With his offensive improvement, consistent defensive steadiness, and the fact he played every game of the (shortened) regular season for the first time in his career, Tanev is an X-factor. Therefore, I genuinely believe that if the Canucks are going to win this series, they need Tanev to be as good as he has shown during most of this season.
This final selection is probably the least to do with how he performed during camp, but more how he can have an impactful performance on the series with the Minnesota Wild. His unique skill set as a shutdown player means that if he enables better matchups for Bo Horvat’s line, it will lead to the Canucks having a significant advantage.
Yes, some will worry that if we have to rely on a fourth-liner, than the Canucks are going to be in trouble, but, if you get the support from the depth role, then it allows the stars to shine brighter. If Beagle can shoulder some of the defensive load, then the Canucks will be in good shape to handle the experience of the Wild.
It’s a Team Game
Although I believe these three-players could be X-factors for the Vancouver Canucks, if they are to win, it’s going to have to be a team effort. They will need players from Zack MacEwen to even Quinn Hughes to step their game up, and come out of the gates blazing.
I truly believe that from the COVID-offseason, we are going to see some weird results and some even more bizarre standout performers. If the exhibition games are anything to go by, these playoffs are going to be high-scoring, and full of pent-up quarantine energy.
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