The NHL is set up with another solid day of action on Friday. Six games will be up on the board throughout the day. One of the matchups to close out the action will be between the Vancouver Canucks and the Minnesota Wild. The Canucks will look to knock Minnesota out of the Qualifiers with a win. This game will drop the puck at around 10:45 PM Eastern time on NBCSN.
The Canucks earned a record of 36-27-6 throughout the regular season, which has them in seventh place of the Western Conference. Vancouver has been able to bounce back after falling down 1-0 in the series. The Canucks will now look to secure a spot in the next round as they meet up with the Wild in what should be a great Game 4.
Minnesota posted a record of 35-27-7 in the regular season. The Wild are currently holding down the tenth seed in the Western Conference. Minnesota was neck and neck in the playoff race and will look to sneak into a Game 5 situation with a win in this one. The Wild were one of the hottest teams before the season paused and will look to find that momentum again.
These two teams were separated by a single point in the regular season, but they are still separated by two other teams in the standings. This shows how tight the Western Conference playoff picture was. Vancouver and Minnesota have played in a solid series so far, but it could come to a close on Friday night. The Wild will look to keep it alive in a must watch matchup to end the day of action.
These two teams met up three times throughout the regular season. The Wild hosted the first game and lost 4-1 to the Canucks. Minnesota also hosted the second game of the season series, winning 4-2. The final game of the season series shifted to Vancouver, where the Wild were able to come out on top 4-3 in a shootout.
The first game of this series was back on August 2. Kevin Fiala opened up the scoring for the Wild in the matchup. Jared Spurgeon scored two goals and added an assist, while Eric Staal earned two assists. Alex Stalock turned away all 28 shots he faced to help give Minnesota a huge 3-0 win to start out the series.
The second game of the best of five series was on August 4. Kevin Fiala had two goals, while Zach Parise and Eric Staal both had two assists. Bo Horvat and J.T. Miller both had a goal and an assist for the Canucks though. Alexander Edler added another two assists in the matchup. Jacob Markstrom stopped 32 of the 35 shots he faced to give Vancouver a 4-3 win to tie up the series.
The third game of the series was on August 6 in the morning. Quinn Hughes had a huge game as he tallied up three assists. Brock Boeser and Elias Pettersson both had a goal and an assist to help the Canucks break the series tie. Jacob Markstrom turned away all 27 shots he faced to help lead Vancouver to a big win.
The Canucks put up strong special team stats throughout the regular season. Vancouver scored 57 power play goals on 236 opportunities, which was good for a 24.2 percent success rate. The Canucks had a strong penalty kill as well. Vancouver held their opponents to 42 goals on 215 chances, which is an 80.5 percent penalty kill.
Minnesota’s power play has had a strong season as well. The Wild have posted 46 power play goals on 216 attempts, which is a 21.3 percent power play. Minnesota’s penalty kill has not been nearly as strong though. The Wild have allowed their opponents to score 47 goals on 206 chances, which is a 77.2 percent kill rate.
Vancouver has had the better special teams throughout this series as well. The Canucks have a 20 percent power play rate, while stopping 88.2 percent of Minnesota’s power play chances. The Wild will need to change the tides on special teams if they want to force a Game 5. The Canucks will look to keep this up to move onto the next round.
Jacob Markstrom will get the start in the crease for Vancouver on Friday night. Markstrom earned a record of 23-16-4 throughout the regular season. He put up a save percentage of .918 and a 2.75 GAA. In these three playoff games, Markstrom has a .923 save percentage and a GAA of 2.54. He will look to have another solid outing to clinch the Canucks a spot in the round of sixteen.
Alex Stalock will get the nod in net for the Wild in this matchup. Throughout the regular season, Stalock put up a record of 20-11-4. He earned a .910 save percentage and a 2.67 GAA. Stalock has stepped it up in the playoffs as well. He has put up a save percentage of .929 and a GAA of 2.03. If Stalock can have another strong performance, it will give Minnesota a chance to win on Friday night.
These two goalies have looked great throughout this series. Stalock’s numbers are actually a little bit better this series, but he will need some help from his offense. If Minnesota can find the back of the net early, it will help take some pressure off of Stalock. The Canucks will look to get pressure on Stalock early to try and get him to crack.
These two teams met in a great series so far, but I believe that it could come to a close on Friday night. Both teams will be a bit tired after playing on Thursday, but Vancouver will have some more momentum on their side by getting the win in Game 3. The Canucks will look to come out strong and use their special teams to knock Minnesota out of the Qualifying Round.
BetOnline has Minnesota listed as a -116 against the money line in this one. This implies that the Wild will win this game around 53.7 percent of the time. I believe that with Vancouver leading this series, they should be the favorites in this game. The Canucks are the better team this series and have a great chance to put the bow on it. I like the value behind Vancouver on Friday night to finish off Minnesota.