Canucks could earn full week of rest if they finish off Predators tonight

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The Vancouver Canucks have a chance to accomplish something tonight that they haven’t done in 13 years.

The team can finish off the Nashville Predators and advance to the second round on home ice for the first time since 2011.

While the difference between finishing a series in five games compared to six games may not be of the utmost importance to many teams, the Canucks are in a situation where getting business handled early is crucial.

If the Canucks do secure their ticket to the second round tonight, they could earn up to a full week of rest. There are two other first-round series with Game 7s scheduled for Sunday, May 5, including the closely contested battle between the Vegas Golden Knights and Dallas Stars. The second round will not begin until the first round is completely finished.

When the league does get around to making the schedule for the second round, the Canucks have to deal with the fact that Pearl Jam has Rogers Arena booked on May 4 and May 6. This means that there’s a solid chance they won’t host Game 1 of the second round until Tuesday, May 7.

A full week of rest is exactly what this team needs right now. Several players, most notably captain Quinn Hughes, have taken a physical beating throughout their first-round series against the Nashville Predators and look hampered as a result.

The captain played an abnormally low 12:42 in the first two periods of Game 4 and was on the receiving end of some brutal collisions. The Predators have put a target on his back and he’s taking hits at twice the rate he was during the regular season.

Elias Pettersson also appears to be labouring through an injury. He hasn’t looked like himself in any of the four games thus far. While any ailment won’t be officially confirmed until the playoffs are over — if at all — he doesn’t look like himself.

While the two stars managed to tough out some big minutes and createed magic late in Game 4, they’re clearly operating at less than 100% and a week off would do wonders.

In addition, finishing the series tonight would save the Canucks a plane trip across the continent back to Nashville. It’s a fact that the team was well aware of directly after pulling out a huge comeback victory in Game 4.

“It’s eight-and-a-half hours of flying time,” said J.T. Miller when asked postgame about the importance of the team’s Game 4 win. “I mean, seriously, that’s a big game, it’s a huge win. They played really hard again, they’re making it hard on us right now, we’ve got to elevate our game as a group and we know that.”

“We’ve got a big opportunity in front of us, and I expect us to respond.”

The puck drops tonight at 7 pm at Rogers Arena for Game 5. The atmosphere is sure to be rocking, like it was during the first two home games of the series, as the Canucks look to advance.