Canucks Note: The Miller case was all about the playoffs; Blue-Liner Benn returns

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Canucks find out later Sunday who they’ll face next in the Stanley Cup Playoffs – St. Louis or Dallas

Let’s be clear here: It may not have been stated, but making the playoffs was the Vancouver Canucks’ main goal to start the 2019-20 NHL season. This was made evident from the moment GM Jim Benning traded for JT Miller.

Benning’s deal for Miller, with a first-round pick, a key piece going the other way to the Tampa Bay Lightning, was a move designed to make the playoffs.

For the deal to make sense, that first-round pick had to be a mid-round pick, more ideally a pick that ended in the 1920s.

Mission accomplished, then. The Canucks are in the playoffs and now have a chance, if they can win their first round, best of seven series against the St. Louis Blues or Dallas Stars, to push that pick further down the first. round of the 2020 NHL Draft, an online affair scheduled for October 9.

Canucks forward JT Miller tries to screen Wild goalie Alex Stalock in the second period of Vancouver’s victory in Game 3 against Minnesota on Thursday.

Perry Nelson /

USA TODAY Sports

Benning’s voice was especially delighted when contacted by phone on Saturday morning. It was a long race for the veteran hockey player in Vancouver, and most of it didn’t go as planned. But in celebration of Chris Tanev’s overtime goal on Friday night, which sealed the Canucks’ qualifying series against the Minnesota Wild, the sheer joy of the moment was evident.

The players left on Saturday to rest and recover. They will be back on the ice for practice on Sunday, but they won’t know until Sunday afternoon which team they will play next; it will be the loser of Sunday’s final round robin game between the Stars and the Blues.

This series will start on Tuesday or Wednesday. The schedule remains tentative due to televised requests. Once the Toronto Maple Leafs and Columbus Blue Jackets play Game 5 of their series on Sunday, the playoff table for Final 16 will be clear.

Benning was able to watch just about every game played by Western Conference teams at Rogers Place in Edmonton over the past week, one of the best professional scouting opportunities ever presented to NHL general managers. . By all reports, most – but certainly not all – of the league’s GMs took the opportunity.

“It really gives us the opportunity to watch and familiarize ourselves with the whole conference,” he said on Saturday morning. “It’s like a bantam tournament on steroids.”

Jordie Benn approaches the light of day

If all goes as planned, defenseman Jordie Benn will be able to return to the ice on Sunday, Benning said.

Benn isolated himself in Vancouver in late June, then skated in the early days of the Canucks’ return-to-play training camp before returning to Dallas in mid-July to be with his fiancee Jessi Kohout, who was due give. birth. Their daughter, Billie, arrived a little over a week ago. After a weekend getting used to their new addition, Benn flew to Edmonton on Tuesday to join his team.

Jordie Benn (left) shares a laugh with Oscar Fantenberg during training camp at Rogers Arena on July 13.

Richard Lam /

PNG

Under the NHL’s COVID-19 protocols, approved by public health officials in Canada and Alberta, players like Benn don’t have to follow the 14-day quarantine rules that most people arrive abroad have to endure, but still have to spend. time in isolation.

Key to this variance is the ability of the NHL to test players daily for COVID-19 infection. After arriving, Benn had to spend at least four full days in isolation in his hotel room. Every day he was tested for COVID-19. He had to test negative four times in four days to take the next step, being allowed to skate on his own, still isolated from the rest of the team.

Sunday, Benning said, would be the first day of the next stop. If he is approved to proceed to this stage of solo skating, he will still be tested daily. If he spends three days with three negative results, then he can join the rest of his teammates.

That timeline means he’s unlikely to be available for Game 1 of the Canucks’ first-round series. If the series kicks off on Tuesday, he won’t have erased it anyway. If the series kicks off on Wednesday, he won’t have skated with his teammates in nearly a month.

Oscar Fantenberg, who supplanted Benn as the team’s sixth defenseman in December, played the first three games of the series against Minnesota but was struck out in favor of Olli Juolevi for the win in Game 4 on Friday. . It was the debut in the NHL for the young Finn, who showed quite well within minutes.

Toffoli’s question

The NHL’s unfit to play designation is airtight against injury reporting.

So whatever problem striker Tyler Toffoli faces – we think it’s something to do with his foot or ankle – nothing will be revealed in official terms.

That said, it’s a telling thing that the veteran winger is staying with the Canucks. He was injured last Sunday. By the time the next round begins, it will be about 10 days since he was on the sidelines.

If he’s only out for a few weeks, that would put him back on the road to return as early as next weekend. If he wasn’t ready to play soon, it seems likely he wouldn’t stay in the bubble.

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