Canucks Look for Unlikely Season Sweep of Much Better Wild Side

canucks hockey

Matthew Jordan

Thursday, March 8, 2018 2:54 PM UTC

Thursday, Mar. 8, 2018 2:54 PM UTC

Minnesota is nearly invincible at home but below .500 on the road. Which club will show up Friday night in the Wild’s lone visit of the season to Vancouver?

Minnesota Wild (83 points) at Vancouver Canucks (59 points)Free NHL Pick: WildBest Line Offered: BetOnline

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Short four-game schedule around the NHL on Friday night, and the latest game is a 10 p.m. ET puck drop from Rogers Arena as Minnesota visits Vancouver for the only time this season.

When you are fighting for a playoff spot like the Wild are, you have to beat bad teams like the Canucks. If Minnesota were to miss out on the postseason, Vancouver could potentially take some credit for that as it is 2-0 in the season series with Friday the finale.

On Oct. 24, the Canucks won 1-0 in St. Paul as Minnesota got off to a sluggish start this season. Anders Nilsson was the No. 1 star with his 29 saves for Vancouver. That was Nilsson’s fourth career shutout, and he hasn’t had one since. He usually backs up Jacob Markstrom. Jake Virtanen broke a scoreless tie midway through the third period. Devan Dubnyk was the tough-luck loser for the Wild.

On Jan. 14, Vancouver pulled off another road upset, 3-2 in overtime in Minnesota. Brandon Sutter scored 2:50 into overtime after missing the previous 21 games with an injury. The Canucks tied it with 16:48 left in regulation on a goal by Thomas Vanek, who has since been traded. Markstrom was in net and the game’s No. 2 star, while Dubnyk had 22 saves for the Wild, who were playing their fourth game in six nights at the time.

The road team has won the past four in the series.

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Boeser’s Stellar Rookie Season Over

About the only bright spot this season for the Canucks, who are likely going to finish ahead of only Arizona in the Pacific Division (and maybe not the way the Coyotes are playing of late), has been 21-year-old forward Brock Boeser. He was the All-Star Game MVP and led all rookies with 29 goals, most on the team, but his chances to win the Calder Trophy are likely gone now with Boeser to miss 4-6 weeks with a non-displaced fracture of the transverse process in his lower back.

At the short end, maybe Boeser could return by the end of the year, by why even bother? Boeser left Rogers Arena on a stretcher Monday after he fell into an open gate while trying to make a hit on the Islanders’ Cal Clutterbuck. That injury should all but ensure the Calder goes to the Islanders’ Mathew Barzal, who leads all rookies in points.

Vancouver struggled offensively even with Boeser’s brilliance (23rd in goals) but lost 2-1 at home to a bad Arizona team on Wednesday without him. The Canucks gave up the winner with 58 seconds to go.

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Game at a Glance - Jokinen scored his first #Canucks goal as Vancouver’s three-game point streak ends in 2-1 loss to Coyotes. pic.twitter.com/Bo2TSB88ht

— Vancouver Canucks (@Canucks) March 8, 2018
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The Wild could finish anywhere from second in the Central Division to out of the playoffs entirely – my guess is somewhere in the middle. They are playing much better of late with only two losses in the past nine games. Minnesota just finished a quick two-game homestand with easy wins over Detroit and Carolina, outscoring them a combined 10-3.

Eric Staal leads the team with 36 goals (fourth in NHL) and 67 points, and he has 15 points in his past nine games. Since Feb. 1, he has scored 16 times in 17 games and has 24 points. Staal’s 36 overall goals are his most since scoring 40 in 2008-09 with Carolina. The Wild franchise record is 42 set in 2007-08 by Marian Gaborik. He also set the team record of 83 points that year.

Minnesota is the NHL’s best team at home with a 24-5-6 record but is just 14-17-1 on the road. Dubnyk’s numbers really sum that up: He’s 19-3-5 with a 2.14 GAA and .931 SV at Xcel Energy Center and 10-9-0 with a 3.30 GAA and .899 SV on the road. As a team, the Wild’s home GAA of 2.14 is first in the league but road mark of 3.59 is dead last.

Hard to trust the Wild with those road splits, but Vancouver has won just seven of its past 26 at home vs. teams with a losing road record. Minnesota has won its past five after allowing two goals or fewer in the previous game. Take the Wild, who won't want to be swept, for a Friday NHL pick.

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