Young Blood: Canucks will shine in Wild Redemption Series
BarnBurner Sports Writer
Friday, July 31, 2020
Vancouver Canucks take on the Minnesota Wild on Sunday, August 2nd in a good ole revenge matchup for the boys in blue and green.
Hockey is back, baby!
Well, not yet. Regardless, Canadians everywhere are sharpening their skates and filling their fridges with copious amounts of Molson beer to prep for the most unique hockey playoffs in NHL history, which kicks off Saturday, August 1st, 2020.
Since fans are placing bets and making the most ludicrous predictions about who will take home Lord Stanley this year, I've decided to join in on the post-season fun.
Vancouver is my hometown for life. I was born at St. Paul’s Hospital with a love for the Canucks since my first breath. With guys like Kirk McLean and Trevor Linden on the roster, there’s no one else I’d rather give a tiny fist pump for during each game—even though the team went 25-41-14 the same year.
From a young age, I realized how much it hurts to watch your team lose in the big games. That loss to the Rangers in ’94 will forever be a ketchup stain on my corduroy overalls.
In 2003, I thought it was our year.
After defeating the St. Louis Blues in the quarterfinals, Vancouver advanced to the semis to take on none other than the Minnesota Wild. Piece of cake, us Canuckleheads thought.
Van took Game 1 in an overtime thriller and eventually went up 3-1 in the series. Then, the ketchup stains were about to make their violent return. This time, on my bellbottom jeans.
Back then, the Canucks had THE best line I’ve ever witnessed as a fan: the West Coast Express. Consisting of my favourite Canuck of all time, Todd Bertuzzi (pre-sucker punch, don’t worry), Brendan Morrison, and Markus Naslund, Vancouver’s top line looked invincible.
But even Super Man has his kryptonite.
Nucks dropped the next three games, losing 7-2 in Game 5, 5-1 in Game 6, and 4-2 in Game 7 to the Wild.
2003 was a dark year, to say the least.
While the team may not have the West Coast Express pullin’ into the Canucks’ station anymore, Vancouver boasts a roster of young talent who have all the power in the world to take down the mighty Minnesota Wild this time around.
On paper, they are the better team.
Jacob Markstrom is 100% the better goalie. Y’all remember that beautiful night in which Vancouver honoured the Sedins? Markstrom set a Canucks record with a whopping 49 stops, setting a new franchise high for number of saves in a shutout. Btw, that game was against the Chicago Blackhawks, a team Vancity has struggled with over the years.
Despite a knee injury in February, Markstrom had extra time to heal up during the lockdown and will come back with a vengeance. Just wait.
Canucks will utilize a powerhouse of players like Elias Pettersson, Brock Boeser, and NHL’s Rookie of the Year, Quinn Hughes to complete a franchise redemption that stretches almost two decades.
Side note: Hughes became just the third d-man in the NHL’s modern era to lead every single first-year player in scoring. The only other two to do it? Brian Leetch and Bobby Orr.
These ‘Yutes’ can literally do it all. Yes, I just referenced one of the greatest movies ever, if you’re a paisan like myself.
When the 20-year-old rookie defenseman isn’t poppin’ off at the blueline, the team can count on a plethora of scorers, like the dudes listed above. But don’t sleep on Bo Horvat and J.T. Miller, either.
Those five get it done on the ice, especially on special teams. In fact, Vancouver ranked fourth best in the NHL on the powerplay this past season.
Minnesota beware: Orcas eat Bears for breakfast.
PS—Canucks in 5.
Photo courtesy: NHL.com