With the final playoff push happening here in the Western Conference, the Canucks are sitting pretty 2nd in the Pacific Division. The four teams battling out for the last few playoffs spots could be potential opponents for the Vancouver Canucks. Each team having attributes to give Vancouver difficulties in the first round (if they matched up) but which team do you think would give the Canucks the hardest time, win or lose in the first round.
- Minnesota Wild– The Wild are a hard team to pinpoint where they are ‘scary’. With the play of Devon Dubnyk since being acquired by the Wild, they have been a very good team and a hard one to beat. They already have 37 ROWs, the Canucks have 38 and are only a point behind the Canucks. Luckily they are in the Central Division, but with the format of playoffs, they would be a formidable first round opponent.
- Calgary Flames– Flames have been surprising everyone this season. With a year the team was in a supposed ‘rebuild’, they are in a playoff position. They are best 3rd period scoring team in the NHL and have 36 wins (ROWs) on the season. Their biggest issue is the loss of their Captain, Mark Giordano for the remainder of the season with his torn bicep. However, the Flames are still finding ways to win. They are a team the Canucks do not want to stop pressuring in the offensive zone.
- Winnipeg Jets– The Jets are a big, fast and hard-hitting team. They are finding ways to win and managing their losses very well. Their biggest issue is actually who will be their starting goaltender if they make the playoffs. Paul Maurice has the team believing in themselves and it looks like Swaggerville could make an appearance in the NHL playoffs for the first times in decades.
- Los Angeles Kings– The defending Stanley Cup Champions are the team on the outside looking in but are a threat to take that last playoff spot or even move up higher in the standings. Although they have cruised most of the regular season, the Kings are always considered a contender. Jonathan Quick has been nothing short of brilliant in recent playoff performances and they all seem to find a way to get it done, when it matters most.
LA is at the top of that list for me, followed by the Minnesota Wild. In reality, the playoffs are a different beast and the Canucks have to ‘flip the switch’ and play ‘balls out’ for 60 minutes plus a game. There are no shootouts and every goal either gets you closer to the next game or closer to golf course.