Canucks Best Predators in Six Games, Round 1 Series Recap

By: Brayden Fengler / May 3, 2024  

Despite only allowing Nashville two wins, and at one point being up 3-1 over the Predators in the series it still never looked easy for the Canucks.

Game one was decisive, game three was a narrow win and game four really should have gone Nashville’s way right up until the very end. Then of course game six was really anyone’s game until the dying minutes.

However, the past is the past and Nashville gets to stay there, while Vancouver moves on to the second round. Beyond just the final results, we’re taking a look at some of the highs and lows that Vancouver experienced in this series overall.

What Vancouver Did Best

There is no question that Vancouver’s biggest strength was their depth in net. This is not something that can be easily prepared for just before the playoffs, the depth just has to exist within a team’s system before they require it. Thankfully when they did need it, both Casey DeSmith and Arturs Silovs showed up massively for them.

After it was announced that Demko was injured following the Canucks game-one win it felt like all of the excitement and anticipation that was snowballing throughout the City just evaporated overnight. Demko is as much of a key piece of this team as you can get, so the prospect of playing multiple weeks of playoff hockey without him was and still is a frightening one.

DeSmith played exceptionally well in game two, despite the club’s 4-1 loss to Nashville. This game had its own set of problems that were nothing to do with the Canucks goaltending. DeSmith’s performance in the Canucks’ game three win was massive, as it kept the Canucks up in the series and proved that they could in fact earn a playoff win without Thatcher Demko.

Then came the news that DeSmith himself would be sitting out the next contest due to his own injury. This introduced Silovs into the picture. Silovs is Abbotsford’s normal starter who had only played nine NHL games across two seasons, before starting in his first playoff game. Silovs proved to be just as capable as his counterparts and earned the Canucks the wins they needed to close out the series.

How many teams could get three playoff wins with three different goalies? I can’t imagine that number would be very high. Everyone should be thanking Canucks goalie coach Ian Clark for his part in developing the Canucks netminders to this level so that when the team needed them, they were ready.

Of course, a big factor that led to the goalie’s success was also the calibre of play that was in front of them. Big names for the Canucks stepped up in this series. Although not every player was playing to the level that fans and themselves would like to see, most top-six Canucks did a fantastic job in this series.

Boeser’s game four hat trick comes to mind immediately when thinking of Canucks who stepped up when the going got tough. Boeser took the Canucks on his back and ended up being the key factor in what turned the series into a 3-1 lead for Vancouver when it could’ve very easily been all tied up at two aside after that game.

J.T. Miller also played exceptionally well with six points across six games played and he ranked at the top of the Canucks leaderboard for playoff point production. While Miller didn’t find himself converting on many goals himself, there is no question that #9 played a critical role on the team’s special units and was a force to be reckoned with whenever he was on the ice.

Where Vancouver Struggled the Most

Vancouver’s biggest struggles came in game two and similar challenges from that game popped up during the rest of the series. Overall this series was a very low-scoring affair, with an extremely low amount of shots on net developed from either team, yet that was not for a lack of trying.

When all was said and done there were 104 blocked shots for Nashville in this series and 94 for Vancouver. That’s over 15 blocked shots a game for either both teams. If that total was spread out over the entire series for both teams that doesn’t sound like too much, but these weren’t spread out over the entire series evenly.

In game two for example Nashville got in front of 30 Canucks shot attempts which led to their victory in that game. In one game Nashville took two games worth of blocked shots. Nashville then nearly reached this total again with 24 shot blocks in game six. That’s impressive from Nashville’s side of the ice and was extremely frustrating for the Canucks.

This didn’t stump Vancouver completely as they went on to win the next two games after Nashville’s impress game two brick wall phase, as they found their way around Nashville’s collapsing zone play.

But initially, they struggled to adapt, basically wasting a whole game trying the same thing shooting pucks through crowds that never made it to the net. They need to adapt quicker in round 2, they can’t afford to spend an entire game in later rounds demonstrating the definition of insanity.

Where is EP40?

Then there’s Elias Pettersson… oh boy. Pettersson earned himself just 3 assists in this series, coming nowhere close to developing anything of consequence on his own. On the one hand, it’s great that the Canucks can win a round without one of their best players, but this is not sustainable.

Pettersson needs to snap out of it. If he’s playing through an injury it may be best to rest him for some games at this point.

In many instances this series his direct lack of speed and ability to win puck battles or even control the puck while on his stick, has either cost Vancouver a goal or put them a position that they did not need to find themselves in. Without a game 7, hopefully Pettersson can use the extra few days of rest.

Next Up: Edmonton

Vancouver won the season series against Edmonton this year. So that’s it, the Canucks have this one in the bag, they honestly shouldn’t even play the games.

If only that could be true.

The Canucks do have a good chance over Edmonton, having massively outscored the Oilers in their match-ups during the regular season by a difference of 16 across all four contests. However, as the first round has shown us, everything changes in the playoffs.

Demko’s status also becomes more worrisome against the Oilers. DeSmith and Silovs have shown that they can handle O’Reilly and company, but can they take on s playoff hardened McDavid and Leon Draisaitl? We’ll have to wait and see.