I’ve been breaking down each Canadian team’s chances in the first round of the NHL playoffs. So far, I’ve picked Colorado to defeat Winnipeg in six, Toronto to beat Boston in seven and Edmonton to beat LA in seven. Heading west, the NHL Playoffs have brought us Canucks vs Predators. Despite their astounding start, I ranked the Canucks third out of the four Canadian contenders. In the second half of the season, the Canucks fell off their prolific pace. Still, they did enough to fend off Edmonton to win the Pacific division and were rewarded with a favourable first-round match-up.

In game one, the Canucks scored twice in 12 seconds to flip the script on the Predators. They defended their lead admirably, limiting Nashville’s scoring chances. Beyond some questionable discipline, the Canucks established themselves as the superior team.

NHL Playoffs – Canucks vs Predators – The Matchup

The story of the Predators’ season was their six-week long 18-game point streak. The impressive streak started shortly after head coach Andrew Brunette cancelled a team trip to see U2 in response to Nashville losing 9-2 to Dallas. Nashville eventually came back to earth, going 4-5-1 to finish their season.

The Canucks on the other hand played more like a wild-card team than a division champion for their last 30 games, going 16-11-3. If you look at gambling odds for the Stanley Cup, it’s clear that the Canucks still need to earn their respect despite a fantastic regular season. Fortunately for the Canucks, they avoided a first-round match-up with a stingy LA Kings team and the defending cup champion Golden Knights. The Canucks star power and depth put them in a good position to defeat the Predators.


Juuse Saros vs Thatcher Demko could be the best goalie duel of the first round. Although Saros hasn’t had his best season in 2023-24, he has consistently been one of the league’s best goaltenders since taking over for Pekka Rinne full-time in 2021. Saros won’t be getting any Vezina attention for his performance this season, but his 906 SV% and 2.86 GAA are still respectable numbers. Considering Vancouver’s wealth of scoring talent, Saros must be at his best to give Nashville a chance in this series.

Thatcher Demko on the other hand generated plenty of buzz for the Vezina trophy this season. The American netminder should earn a nomination despite being out for over a month due to a late-season knee injury. If there’s any reason for Canucks fans to worry about Demko, it’s that he’s only played three games since early March. If his performance in game one is a sign of things to come, that layoff won’t be a problem for Demko. The Canucks goaltender doesn’t have much playoff experience, but he was exceptional when called upon in the 2019-20 COVID bubble playoffs. Demko can’t be expected to maintain his ridiculous 974 SV% and 0.97 GAA in the playoffs, but if he can play near that level again, the Canucks will be difficult to beat.

Editors Note: Now with news coming out that Demko may be out, this could really turn this series on its head. Demko is such an integral part of the Canucks. He is out for Game 2 and is questionable for the remainder of the series.


Roman Josi headlines Nashville’s blue line with his excellent two-way play. Josi quietly tallied 85 points in 82 games this year, logging over 24 minutes a game for the 11th consecutive season. Beyond Josi, Nashville has defenders with a mix of experience and physicality. Former Stanley Cup champions Ryan McDonagh and Luke Schenn are warriors who know what it takes to win in the playoffs. The Canucks will also need to keep their heads up when Jeremy Lauzon is on the ice. Lauzon set an NHL record for most hits in one season with 383 in 79 games. If the Predators need an offensive boost from their blue line, they can turn to puck-movers Dante Fabbro and Tyson Barrie, although neither suited up in game one.

For the Canucks, Quinn Hughes emerged as the clear Norris favourite in 2023-24. His pairing with Filip Hronek leads a much-improved Canucks blue line. The rest of the defence brings plenty of size and physicality. Vancouver’s bottom four is built to wear opponents down in a playoff series. With that size, speed and discipline may be a concern for the Canucks defence. Luckily, Nashville’s forwards aren’t an overly fast group.


Nashville’s clearest disadvantage in this series is their forward group, both in firepower and depth. Beyond the dangerous Forsberg-O’Reilly-Nyquist line, the Predators’ bottom nine are the worst of any playoff team. Nashville’s fourth-highest-scoring forward was Tommy Novak with just 45 points. Nashville’s depth at center is especially questionable, with Novak, Colton Sissons and Michael McCarron slotting in behind O’Reilly. The Predators need some depth forwards to step up to give them a chance to beat the Canucks.

The Canucks on the other hand have among the deepest forwards groups in the league. JT Miller, Pettersson and Elias Lindholm should have no problem exploiting Nashville’s lack of depth down the middle. The Canucks have plenty of depth on the wings too, and the ability to shuffle the lineup. If Rick Tocchet wants to load up the first line with Pettersson and Miller, he has an elite third line of Joshua-Blueger-Garland in his back pocket. Any way you slice it the forward position is a massive advantage for Vancouver.


Although Nashville won’t be an easy matchup for Vancouver, this is one of the easier series to predict. As game one demonstrated, Vancouver is too deep and talented for the Predators. Barring a terrible performance from Thatcher Demko, the Canucks shouldn’t have a problem getting past the Preds.

Canucks in 6.