If you missed it, about a month ago, I wrote an article covering the “play-in” series preview.
What are the biggest aspects of the series to watch during the progression of the series?
The reality is that the Wild had the worst goalie tandem in the NHL this season. Dubnyk and Stalock had a combined .900 save percentage and league-worst -44.13 GSAx (Goals Saved Above Expected) which takes into account shot quality.
Even with one of the best defensive cores in the league, and a superstar in the making in Fiala, the Wild will not win this series if they do not get at a minimum, average goaltending.
Dubnyk, Stalock, and Kahkonen will fight for the starting spot, if the Wild get even average goaltending, something that did not happen in the regular season, they will be a force to be reckoned with.
Vancouver was one of the best power-play teams in the NHL this season, which frankly is not shocking with the likes of Elias Pettersson, Brock Boeser, J.T Miller, Bo Horvat, and Quinn Hughes.
The Canucks had a 24.1% power play percentage which ranked fourth in the entire NHL.
If the Wild do not stay disciplined, the Canucks could win the series on just the power-play.
More from Gone Puck Wild
- Fun Game Lost Eleven Seconds in OT Ending Minnesota Wild Season
- The Minnesota Wild Drop a Bad Game Three and Face Elimination
- Despite Late Comeback, Wild Fall Short to Canucks in Game Two
- Kevin Fiala Continues Great Play for Minnesota Wild After Long Pause
- Ryan Hartman Fantastic for Minnesota Wild in Game One Victory
The Wild have a top 3 defense, arguably the best defense in the entire NHL with the likes of Jared Spurgeon, Ryan Suter, Jonas Brodin, Matt Dumba, Carson Soucy, and Brad Hunt up and down their defensive pairings.
On the other hand, the Canucks are a relatively poor defensive team, something the Wild have to take advantage of if they want to succeed and get a berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
With the Wild’s goaltending severely underwhelming, the Wild’s defensive core must remain strong and effective.
Controlling and effectively limiting offense from the Canucks top-six will be vital in this series.
The Canucks have one of the best top-six in the entire NHL with the likes of Pettersson, Boeser, Miller Horvat, Pearson, and the recently acquired Toffoli.
The Canucks are dependent on good goaltending and their top-six just like how the Wild are dependent on their defense and depth.
If the Wild can not control the Canucks offense, the Wild do not stand a chance.
Luckily, the Canucks depth is nothing special and they are a top-six heavy team.
GameBreaker Kevin Fiala
The Wild’s best chance at competing offensively against a front-heavy team like Vancouver is having someone like Fiala. The Wild do not stand a chance if the Wild do not get pre-pause Fiala when the NHL resumes.
Fiala, the Wild’s best forward since the new year, seemed to be electric, game in and game out, and was literally carrying the Wild when they were subject to poor goaltending.
Fiala will be a vital factor in this series and the Wild need his high-end game back when the season resumes.