NHL.com goes Behind the Numbers to identify key statistics for each of the eight best-of-5 series in the Stanley Cup Qualifiers. Today, a look at the matchup between the Vancouver Canucks and Minnesota Wild.
One key area in the series could be the Vancouver Canucks' advantage on the power play. Vancouver was fourth in the NHL during the season (24.1 percent); the Minnesota Wild were 14th (20.3 percent). Rookie defenseman Quinn Hughes was tied for the Canucks lead in power-play points (25) with forward J.T. Miller. One trend worth noting is the Wild's power play was ranked 20th (17.8 percent) from the start of the season until Dec. 31 but finished strong, converting 26.4 percent of its chances until the season was paused March 12 due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus. That ranked fourth in the League behind the New York Rangers (29 percent), Edmonton Oilers (28.2 percent) and Dallas Stars (27.4 percent).
What changed? The emergence of forward Kevin Fiala, who scored eight power-play goals in the final 28 games, which was third in the League behind Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl and Rangers center Mika Zibanejad (nine each).
Video: CHI@VAN: Hughes hammers Miller one-timer home for PPG
Canucks goalie Jacob Markstrom was 11th in the NHL among those who played at least 30 games this season with a .918 save percentage. He had an .876 save percentage on the penalty kill (16th) and a .925 save percentage at even strength, which was tied for ninth with Andrei Vasilevskiy of the Tampa Bay Lightning (minimum 30 games). Markstrom sustained a knee injury in late February but is expected to be back whenever the Qualifying Round begins.
The Canucks should have an advantage in goal against the Wild, who alternated between Alex Stalock and Devan Dubnyk during the season. Stalock's numbers (20-11-4, .918 save percentage) suggest he could be their starter in Game 1; Dubnyk went 12-15-2 with an .890 save percentage in 30 games (28 starts). Stalock had a strong finish to the season with 11 wins since Jan. 1, which was tied for sixth in the NHL with Tuukka Rask of the Boston Bruins, Carey Price of the Montreal Canadiens, Carter Hart of the Philadelphia Flyers, Jordan Binnington of the St. Louis Blues and Marc-Andre Fleury of the Vegas Golden Knights.
Shot attempts differential
The Wild were minus-48 in shot attempts differential before the season pause; the Canucks were minus-201. This could be a significant indicator of how the series will be played, considering the stat suggests Minnesota is better at controlling play 5-on-5. If this theory holds true, the Wild will be able to apply more pressure on Markstrom at even strength, which could lead to more offense and relieve pressure from their power play.
Minnesota also scored 156 goals at 5-on-5, which ranked sixth in the NHL. Vancouver scored 141 (18th).
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