First of all, Vancouver doesn’t riot after a second round exit, that’s a Stanley Cup loss scenario. This isn’t Montreal.
The Canucks were knocked out of the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs on Friday night when the Vegas Golden Knights lucked out in Game 7 and beat Canucks goaltender Thatcher Demko for the first time in three days and needed only that one goal to advance.
The COVID Cup will be one of the more memorable playoff experiences in Canucks history with multiple storylines from the Play-ins to the playoffs themself.
From the emergence of Quinn Hughes as a true elite NHL defender to Elias Pettersson’s wizardry to the final story of Thatcher Demko seriously putting up consideration for the Canucks top goaltending spot going forward, the Bubble™ provided countless memories that Canucks fans can cling to going forward.
Quick note, how many saves did Demko make in three games?
Thatcher Demko stopped 123 of 125 shots. #Canucks
— Brayden Ursel 🥅🚨🏒🎙 (@bkursel23) September 5, 2020
At the beginning of the season, many had the Canucks on the fence of making/missing the playoffs and after this run, there can be no mistaking that the Canucks are back in the discussion of contending for a Cup; maybe not right away but it’s so much closer than it’s been in a decade.
There are some tough decisions coming for the Canucks and GM Jim Benning with a flat cap beginning next season and multiple players needing new contracts in significant roles.
Tyler Toffoli was brought in to replace an injured Brock Boeser prior to the playoffs beginning and he made an immediate impact and jelled with his new team one game in. Toffoli is a UFA and the Canucks need to decide if he’s on this team going forward now that Brock is healthy.
Both Chris Tanev and Troy Stecher are due new deals as well and I can’t imagine a world with either of them NOT on the Canucks. They both proved to be uber-valuable this summer but unless both are willing to sign team-friendly deals, there is a tough decision to make there as well.
Then there’s Jake Virtanen: the Canucks are at a serious crossroads with Jake and Benning will be in a quandary to decide Jake’s worth to the Canucks. A proven 18-20 goal scorer, he’s valuable to any team but is his discipline the deciding factor?
Vancouver is re-signing Tyler Motte. End of story.
And finally, Jacob Markstrom. Perhaps the most important decision the Canucks will have to make is in net. When Markstrom went down prior to Game 5 he was a beast in net and over the course of this past season had earned himself a contract that reflected his play. The question is, does the otherworldly play of Thatcher Demko put that all into question in just three games?
Personally, I like Demko’s mechanics better and his mental makeup in the net. He doesn’t get rattled and looks to be more mobile than Markstrom from post to post.
Demko also isn’t a wanderer when the puck is out of reach from his crease whereas Markstrom likes to adventure out and inject himself into the play. Ian Clark has done a masterful job with both goaltenders and if the Canucks can somehow keep both of them, Vancouver is in a great position for another few seasons but the looming Seattle Kraken expansion draft will throw a wrench into that potentially.
There will be tons to talk about in the coming weeks as the playoffs continue but the PP1 Podcast will be diving into the issues at hand every week.
This current Canucks team has the makeup of a deep playoff contender and hopefully with the additions of Nils Hoglander and Vasili Podkolzin this year and next, this team will be what everyone else will want to model themselves after.
What we all can take from this run is that the Canucks are back and the rest of the NHL has been put on notice. Expect to see multiple Canucks challenging for hardware in the next few seasons and maybe, just maybe, the big silver mug too!
For now, Vancouver has Elias Pettersson, Quinn Hughes and a whole lot of promise. That’s worth sticking around for.
See ya soon Canucks Nation