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How Inexperienced Canucks Could Make Noise In The Playoffs

Most of the Vancouver Canucks roster might not have playoff experience in front of fans but they could still make some postseason noise.

The NHL Playoffs are now only one week away, and most of the teams who have qualified have familiar logos. This isn’t the case for the Vancouver Canucks, who, after an amazing and surprising campaign are in the postseason for the first time since the 2019-20 season. Will their inexperience be an issue? Or, can they make some noise in the playoffs? There’s reason to think the latter is possible.

After finishing 22nd in last year’s overall rankings, they have completely turned it around this season. In fact, they have sat in first place league-wide for most of the year. Ever since the Rick Tocchet hire, hope has been reborn in British Colombia.

A New Era In Vancouver

Since 2015, the Canucks had only clinched the playoffs once. It was in the 2020 play-in round in the bubble during the pandemic. This means their young core and a lot of their roster have never played a playoff game in front of fans. This applies to 12 of their players, including Brock Boeser, Elias Pettersson, Quinn Hughes, Filip Hronek, and Thatcher Demko. Although, this Vancouver Canuck’s cohort has nothing to do with the previous years’ teams. They are better built, better coached, bigger, more deep and more mature.

Thatcher Demko

Before his injury, goaltender Demko was looking solid and reliable as expected. The California native ranks among the top goaltenders statistically. He is tied for third in the league with a .917 save percentage and ranks seventh in goals against average with a 2.47. He hasn’t played since March 9 and the Canucks have arguably struggled without him. They will be looking to have their goaltender ready for the playoffs.

Defense Wins Championships

On the back end, Vancouver finally has a legitimate core. They now have three defensemen over 6’5″ in Nikita Zadorov, Tyler Myers, and Carson Soucy. All of those players love to play physically and do not shy away from anyone. Then, Ian Cole comes into the mix. A two-time Stanley Cup winner better known for his tremendous ability to block shots. The addition of Soucy and Cole in free agency has brought a highly-needed dose of experience and stability to the defensive core. The days when the Canucks get pushed around are over.

Filip Hronek has been a pleasant surprise in the NHL this year, showing to be the perfect partner for Quinn Hughes. Acquired at last year’s deadline, the Canucks had bought low on a player who had great potential but was playing on a losing team in Detroit. The Czech defenseman has had an immediate impact at five-on-five. He has some of the best plus/minus numbers in the league. Hronek also contributes a lot offensively, with a career-high 48 points.

Filip Hronek and Quinn Hughes will lead Canucks defensemen in the playoffs

Finally, the captain. In only a couple of years, Quinn Hughes has proven to be the best defenseman this franchise has ever had by far. His defensive game has drastically improved, his leadership is flagrant, and is most likely going to win the Norris Trophy. He leads the league in points by a defenseman with 91, which currently puts him in front of forwards like Sidney Crosby, Kirill Kaprizov, and Brayden Point.

One of the worst defensive teams in the past few years is now 6th in goals against. Vancouver is a hard team to score on, especially at 5 on 5.

Vancouver’s Offense

The Canucks do rely only on a few players for offense, but they get the job done. Other than their powerplay weapons, there isn’t a lot of scoring depth in Vancouver. The Elias Lindholm trade has been a disappointment so far, as he is off the first powerplay unit and on the third line. This breaks up the Joshua, Blueger, and Garland line that played with a lot of grit and had great Corsi numbers. However, the Canucks do have great depth forwards and Tocchet’s system is working. Many of Vancouver’s forwards have career highs in numerous categories since his hire.

To have success in the playoffs, Vancouver’s top players will have to perform at their best consistently. Be that as it may, most of those players have never smelled NHL playoff hockey. It will be an interesting test for Rick Tocchet’s squad, as the Canucks hope to make a long playoff run.

Next: Oilers to Recall Philip Broberg for Remaining Games of Regular Season

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