NHL Qualifying Round Preview: Vancouver Canucks vs. Minnesota Wild

While we’re still a ways off from the restart of the NHL season, we do know who will face off in the qualifying round of the playoffs. Those series are a best of five series with the winners advancing to the normal field of 16 teams for the start of what most people consider the actual postseason. With that in mind, we’ll take a look at each series in the qualifying round and give our thoughts on the matter, along with the best options when it comes to placing bets on each series. We’ve already covered the Eastern Conference qualifying round matchups, which you can find by going to the following links: Pittsburgh/Montreal, Carolina/New York Rangers, New York Islanders/Florida and the Toronto/Columbus series. In addition, we started looking at the Western Conference with the Edmonton/Chicago series along with the Nashville/Arizona matchup and today, we break down the 7/10 matchup between Vancouver and Minnesota.

#7 Vancouver Canucks (36-27-6, 78 points) vs. #10 Minnesota Wild (35-27-7, 77 points)

Head to Head Matchups:

January 12, 2020: Vancouver 4, Minnesota 1

February 6, 2020: Minnesota 4, Vancouver 2

February 19, 2020: Minnesota 4, Vancouver 3 (SO)

Series Odds According to VegasInsider.com:

Odds to Win the Series: Vancouver -136, Minnesota +112

Odds For Total Games in the Series: 3 Games (+260), 4 Games (+150), 5 Games (+150)

Odds for Actual Series Result: Vancouver 3-0 (+500), Vancouver 3-1 (+330), Vancouver 3-2 (+350), Minnesota 3-0 (+700), Minnesota 3-1 (+430), Minnesota 3-2 (+410)

Team Statistics:

Vancouver: 3.25 goals per game for (8th), 3.10 goals per game against (Tied for 19th), 24.2% power play percentage (4th), 80.5% penalty killing (16th)

Minnesota: 3.16 goals per game for (12th), 3.14 goals per game against (tied for 23rd), 21.3% power play percentage (tied for 10th), 77.2% penalty killing (25th)

Team Leaders:


Points: J.T. Miller 72, Goals: Miller/Elias Pettersson 27, Assists: Miller/Quinn Hughes 45

Goalie Wins: Jacob Markstrom 23, GAA: Markstrom 2.75, Shutouts: Markstrom 2 Save %: Markstrom .918


Points: Kevin Fiala 54, Goals: Zach Parise 25, Assists: Ryan Suter 40

Goalie Wins: Alex Stalock 20, GAA: Stalock 2.67, Shutouts: Stalock 4, Save %: Kaapo Kahkonen .913


Vancouver had their struggles heading into the pause that eventually led to the end of the regular season, dropping five of their final seven games. The Canucks had a leaky stretch defensively as they allowed at least four goals in five of those games and three in a sixth contest. Miller proved to be a solid acquisition in the offseason as he stepped right up and bolstered the Vancouver offensive attack. He tied for the team lead in goals and led the team in points. Miller was one of four Canucks to score at least 20 goals this season, flanked by Pettersson (27), Bo Horvat (22) and Tanner Pearson (21) this season. Add in Brock Boeser (16 goals) and Jake Virtanen (18) to the mix and the Canucks have two solid scoring lines to work with offensively. Picking up Tyler Toffoli (six goals, four assists in 10 games) should help provide a boost.

The Canucks have to be better in their own end of the ice in the postseason if they want to have any sustained success. While Quinn Hughes was extremely proficient in his rookie season, the team has to get better work on both ends from the rest of their blueline group. Hughes was the only defensive with a Corsi percentage above 50 percent (52 percent) this season. That means guys like Alexander Edler, Tyler Myers, Troy Stecher and Chris Tanev have to be more involved. Markstrom had a minor procedure done in February but he should be fine to get back in action once we get back to game action. He started 43 games this season while Thatcher Demko started 25 on the year. Demko had a higher quality start percentage (.600 to .581) but Markstrom had the far superior goals saved above average (11.4 to -3.67) this season. It seems a likely bet that Markstrom will get the call in net in Game 1 provided that he is fully healthy.

Minnesota had success lighting the lamp this season but their goaltending was shaky at best. Seven guys scored at least 14 goals for the Wild with Parise leading the way with 25 on the season. Fiala put up 23 while contributing solid assist totals in his first full season with the team. He tied his career high in goals while setting a career-high in points and lit the lamp nine times on the power play. After dealing Jason Zucker to Pittsburgh at the trade deadline, the Wild is going to have to get more from Mikko Koivu, Luke Kunin, Mats Zuccarello and Marcus Foligno to help out. The top trio of Fiala, Parise and Carolina/New York Rangers0 (19 goals, 28 assists) can do their part but they can’t do it all on their own.

The Wild has to overcome their defensive zone issues in order to have success. Four of the top six defensemen in games played for the Wild had a negative plus/minus on the year. The duo that were on the plus side of the equation, Jonas Brodin (two goals, 26 assists, +15) and Carson Soucy (seven goals, seven assists, +16), did their part, though Brodin played nearly six more minutes (21:33 to 15:37) per game this season. That means Ryan Suter (eight goals, 40 assists, -6), Jared Spurgeon (12 goals, 20 assists, -1), Matt Dumba (six goals, 18 assists, -7) and Brad Hunt (eight goals, 11 assists) all have to play better in their own end to help. Stalock had a career year this season, setting career-highs in games (38), wins (20) and shutouts (four) on the year. He wrested the #1 goaltender role away from Devan Dubnyk (12-15-2, 3.35 GAA, one shutout, .890 save percentage in 30 games) this season. Kahkonen made five appearances, going 3-1-1 when Dubnyk was on the shelf.

Both teams are solid enough offensively with some quality scoring depth to make things challenging when it comes to getting the last line change. Goaltending has to be a concern for both sides as the teams were near the bottom third of the league in goals against per contest. Stalock was solid enough but he’s unproven when it comes to postseason hockey as he has just one postseason start among his four appearances. Markstrom has at least 23 wins in each of the last three seasons. While he doesn’t have playoff experience going for him, his regular season workload in the last few seasons gives him a more reliable track record. Throw in that the Wild dealt away one of their best offensive weapons in Zucker at the trade deadline while the Canucks bolstered their attack with the acquisition of Toffoli and that gives Vancouver the edge. Minnesota’s trip to the postseason is brief as the Canucks take care of business.


Vancouver to Win Series -136

Vancouver to Win Series in 4 Games +330

Series to Go 4 Games +150

Author Profile
Chris King

Chris King has been immersed in the world of professional and collegiate sports for more than three decades. Whether it's playing pickup games or being involved in organized sports to being a fan, he's checked all the boxes. From the NFL to arena football, the NHL to the KHL, the NBA to the WNBA to college hoops, and even MLB to the KBO. If it's out there, he's covered it and bet on it as well, as Chris has been an expert bettor in his career. Before joining Winners and Whiners back in 2015, his work appeared around the internet and in print. He's written books for Ruckus Books about college basketball, the NBA, NFL, MLB, NHL, golf, and the World Cup. If you're looking for the inside track on hitting a winner, do yourself a favor and read what Chris has to say.