Canucks Round Table (Vol.6)

Welcome to the latest edition of the official Nucksaid: Canucks Round Table! As you know, if you’ve followed my blog for awhile, one of my absolute favourite things is to connect with fellow hockey fans and to share our stories together. This series brings Canucks fans together from near and far to discuss all things Canucks through the year. There’s a lot to be said about them as a team, personally, I love to also hear other fans perspectives, it helps me to see the team and the game in new ways. Hopefully you enjoy the ride with all of us! 

Shall we begin? Without further ado, I present to you the 6th edition of the Canucks Round Table feature on Nucksaid.

Here we GO! [Thank-you to all the participants, and make sure to give them all a follow on twitter, their handles are included in the responses below]

1) As part of our new normal, the arenas in the hub cities and for the foreseeable future will not have fans in the stands, do you think this will either give the return to play teams an advantage or a disadvantage? 

Jacob New(@jkmnew): I feel that the lack of fans in the arena will most likely post a minor disadvantage to all teams considering that they have usually played in front of thousands of fans during their regular season games. The atmosphere, at least in person may be more akin to a practice with the lack of people inside the arena, but the NHL will most likely try to influence the presentation inside to replicate a game as much as possible(music during game breaks, pumped crowd noise, highlights and fan footage on the jumbotron). This replication will not be perfect but I do believe that after the first couple of games with no live audience, the players will grow used to this new normal and their performances will not suffer in significant ways.

Clay Imoo(@CanuckClay): I truly don’t think that the lack of fans will have much impact on the game, and it won’t really give any team an advantage per se. I think the players are already very excited to get back to playing hockey, and their energy and enthusiasm won’t be affected by the lack of fans. If anything, the designated “home team” might miss a bit of a “boost” that comes from the home crowd, but I wouldn’t go as far as to say it’s an advantage or disadvantage. The players know that they have a unique opportunity to win the Stanley Cup this year, and that will be their focus.

Brieann Knorr(@ItsBrieann): To be honest, I’m not sure! Fans do play a huge part in the flow and atmosphere of the game! I hope the NHL can incorporate the fans somehow.

(@Grampahockey1): I don’t believe this will be an advantage to either team, you may saw the home rink has a slight advantage because they know the idiosyncrasies of their own rink but I think that will be minimal and diminish over time.

(@tams3333): I think it will be an advantage. I think the guys are so tuned into the game and pretty much all teams being away will make for some amazing well balanced games.

Artisia Wong(@artisia_wong): I don’t think the hub cities without fans in the stands will give any team the advantage. There won’t be any noise to cheer on any teams so nothing will be a distraction or advantage for any teams.

Eric Bailey(@EBailey16): Having no fans is certainly going to be different. The players at this level are so used to having fans, scouts, management and media around at practices and games. However as all the teams experience that the same change and the practices during this two week period are focused on preparing, including no fans. I don’t think it will make a difference but I am intrigued by the different tales I’ve heard about the potential fan impact.

Michael Coleman(@1MichaelColeman): I suspect that everyone is in a similar state or confusion and trying to make sense of the new normal. My gut says that there not be any advantage or disadvantage to any team based on the fans of lack of fans in the seats.

Deepak(@Deepak_Hockey): I think its both. I think having the fans there, gives teams energy and can be a big advantage to a home team in terms of creating intimidating atmosphere to play. At the same time, playing in front of no fans means less pressure. Watching the playoffs over the years, I’ve seen teams that really feed off of the crowd but also teams that seem to really struggle to put together a solid game in front of home fans, especially in Canada when you’re down a goal or 2, the crowd’s nervous energy seems to translate on the ice too.

Me(@nucksaid): I don’t necessarily think it’ll be an advantage or disadvantage as all the teams will be in the exact same situation. I think it’s unique in this most unusual of circumstances but the teams will adapt to the new normal and put their focus on the why they’re there, the Stanley Cup. I’m curious to see how it’s going to be from a fan perspective with all content that has been provided by the teams and various fans around the league.

2)The Minnesota Wild present a good challenge for a young Canucks team, what strengths do you think that both sides have?

Jacob New(@jkmnew): I think Minnesota is a good match up for the Canucks because of their up-and-coming young players– they remind me of the Canucks pre-Sedin retirement as they have their two anchor veterans, Zach Parise and Ryan Suter. They are not as good as the Sedins but they do possess extensive veteran experience that could help the Wild in the series. Of the two teams, Minnesota has more experience in the playoffs and even though they have not won many series in the last couple years, the experience can be crucial in a playoff environment. Then again, this is not your regular playoffs. As for Vancouver’s strengths, I do feel that Vancouver’s offence is ready for prime time and has the edge over Minnesota. Players like Elias Pettersson and Brock Boeser have put up great regular seasons and have performed well under pressure of fans and the media. This is not to say that Minnesota does not have great young players themselves (names such as Kevin Fiala and Ryan Donato come to mind), but Vancouver’s young guns have both the stats and hardware to prove their talent(Boeser’s All-Star MVP award and Pettersson’s Calder Trophy).

Clay Imoo(@CanuckClay): On paper, it’s a coin flip as the two teams finished one point apart in the standings. It sounds simplistic but it really boils down to the Canucks having a more dynamic offence, the Wild having a more solid blue line, and the Canucks having a decided advantage between the pipes. Both teams have a nice mix of young players and veterans, and they both skate well and play with tenacity. I think Markstrom will be the difference in this series.

Brieann Knorr(@ItsBrieann): Minnesota will be a tough test! I think the Canucks need to be careful. Minnesota is a team that hangs around and can close out games very well. The Canucks have high scoring offence and a goalie, who when he’s on, is one of the best in the league. I think its going to be be a fantastic series.

(@Grampahockey1): I think the Canucks will have an advantage because of their youth and goal-tending. They are healthy and when they were healthy last time, they could compete with anyone. However, having said that, they will have to fight for every inch of ice as the Wild will not roll over.

(@tams3333): The Wild are so stuck in their systems but I think if Travis gives the boys some freedom they will break through. Creative unpredictable play, I think will be the Canucks advantage and systems, I think will be the advantage for the Wild.

Artisia Wong(artisia_wong): The Canucks have a young and fun team that will hopefully do something in the playoffs. Score more goals and lots of assists. I don’t really know anything about the wild but I believe they are team as well. This will be a challenge for the Canucks but hope we come out on top.

Eric Bailey(@EBailey16): The strengths of each side has been much talked about. Minnesota defence, Vancouver’s goal-tending and young scorers. To me, the biggest difference will come with the intangible ability to handle failure. How well will the different players recover from mistakes to come back and make the play next time instead of changing their game. The fear of quicksand. I think Green has done a great job with the young forwards to support their creativity while developing their game.

Michael Coleman(@1MichaelColeman): I feel like Minnesota has a few more veterans in their lineup that have extensive experience in the NHL playoffs that might prove to be an advantage for that team. However, I believe that the Canucks have a healthy balance of youth in the pressure to prove something that may be enough to see them go on a long run.

Deepak(@Deepak_Hockey): I think for the Canucks, is their youth, the overall skill and speed that they have is much better than the Wild. Having Markstrom in net is also an advantage. The Canucks have their goal-tending is better than the Wild. My concerns with the Canucks is their defence, they really struggle defending, giving up tons of chances. If the Canucks can play their agressive style and speed game, play decent defence, then the series tilts in their favour. They have a more skilled top 6 than the Wild.

For Minnesota, their advantage is the experience that they have. They have lots of veterans who have played in the playoffs and have had little success. Being an older team, a lot of guys on the Wild might not get many more chances which makes them very motivated and dangerous. When I look at the Wild, their strength is their blue line, especially their top 4 which is good as any in the league. If the Wild can contain the Canucks speed and protect the middle of the ice, it will take advantage of the Canucks suspect defence and the series will tilt in their favour.

Me(@nucksaid): I think these two teams a very evenly matched on paper, separated by a single point in the overall standings. They each have their own strengths. Minnesota brings in a veteran experience with their own crop of young players and difference makers, especially their blue line that won’t make it easy on the Canucks. Minnesota was beginning to really gel together right before the pause, it’ll be interesting to see how quickly they pick up that pace again. For they Canucks, they have a hungry group of young players itching to prove themselves and get a real taste of NHL playoff hockey experience. If Pettersson, Boeser and Hughes are allowed to find their game while Markstrom stands tall, look out Minnesota.

3)Which Canuck(s) will have the biggest impact on the series?

Jacob New(@jkmnew): I’ve got two Canucks down as the impact players going into this series.

First, Jacob Markstrom. Goaltending is everything to this year’s Canucks. The offence has shown it can be capable of lighting up the opponent but without the stellar goal-tending we have been blessed with this season, we would not have made the qualifying round. Markstrom’s career has finally led to this summer, where he will make his Stanley Cup Playoffs debut. This season has been his ultimate breakout year, showing this franchise he can be the #1 they have needed over the last few years.

Second, Brock Boeser. Besides playing against his hometown team in this series, Brock will be facing adversity, both physically and mentally. Physically, he has been fatigued with injuries almost his entire career so far but has put up incredible numbers in the face of them. Mentally, he was the subject of a trade rumour right as training camp started, leaving fans (and probably players) in a state of confusion and speculation. Jim Benning has completely denied the report, but I am sure that Brock will put in the extra mile during training and these playoffs to quell any sort of idea that he is going anywhere. He is a superstar sniper and those are not easy to come by in a league that is shooter-heavy.

Clay Imoo(@CanuckClay): Markstrom, Pettersson, Hughes, and Miller are the obvious names. But I’m looking at Brock Boeser to have a massive series. It’s almost funny to think of him as a forgotten man, but he only played one game for the Canucks since getting injured on February 10. He looked fast in training camp, and it looked like his shot was back. He’ll be very motivated to play against the team based in his home state. Another player I look to have a big impact is Michael Ferland. It looks like he’ll get a chance to start on the third line as he has much more playoff experience than Virtanen and MacEwen. I remember how he terrorized the Canucks (in particular their d-men) back in the 2015 playoffs when he was playing for the Flames. I was scared of him…and I wasn’t even playing. Back then, I thought to myself, “Why can’t we have a guy like this on our team?” Well, now we have a guy like this on our team. And it could be amazing.

Brieann Knorr(@ItsBrieann): I think it’s going to be a breakout series for the young core! I also want to see what Juolevi can do that he’s made the team.

(@Grampahockey1): It’s got to be JT Miller and Michael Ferland, however I think the bottom 6 will come to play.

(@tams3333): I think Hughes. Defensive quarterbacks are critical.

Artisia Wong(@artisia_wong): I will have to say the goalie! Jacob Markstrom will be key to this series and potential playoff run. He will need to make some pretty big saves if the Canucks want to keep themselves in this.

Eric Bailey(@EBailey16): This series is the coming out party for Petey and Hughes. Their creative high pace games should still shine though in this play-in series. With the questions about experience being asked, Petey reacted to point out his SHL experience. He is challenged and steps up, every time.

Michael Coleman(@1MichaelColeman): I believe JT Miller and Jacob Markstrom will continue to be two players that have an enormous impact regardless of who is playing against them. Pettersson, Horvat, Hughes and Boeser will likely all have opportunities to shine in one of more games but I believe the first two mentioned names will be the ones carrying the consistency in round one. I also suspect there will be somebody like a Toffoli or a Peason who has an amazing series as always seem to be the case in these sort of competitions.

Deepak(@Deepak_Hockey): I think Markstrom will be the biggest key and after that it be will guys like Hughes, Boeser, Pettersson, Horvat, Miller, Toffoli and Pearson if they can play to what they’re capable of, the Canucks will win the series. Also, if Jake Virtanen can get in the lineup and play like the power forward with his physical game, he can single handily change this series. In my opinion, his game is built for the playoffs but he can’t seem to stay out of trouble with coach and management.

Me(@nucksaid): Jacob Markstrom’s strength of play will definitely influence this series, if he finds that same gear that drove him all season, he will be a force for the Canucks against Minnesota and beyond. Quinn Hughes driving the blue line in that insanely astute way he does so naturally with a steady calm that is well beyond his years will inspire his teammates. Playing against his hometown team with his newly rediscovered shot and fully healthy for the first time is forever, Brock Boeser is going go be a very determined player looking to be the series spark.

4) Which Canuck do you think will open the scoring in their play-in series?

Jacob New(@jkmnew): I like to think creatively about these questions. Most people select bigger names but I’ll take Tanner Pearson as the opening scorer in this series, assisted by Toffoli and Horvat.

Clay Imoo(@CanuckClay): I’m going with Brock Boeser.

Brieann Knorr(@ItsBrieann): I’m going with Brock Boeser.

(@Grampahockey1): My favourite alien will pop the first goal in spectacular fashion as his play is out of this world. Go Petey Go!

(@tams3333): I’m going to say Bo.

Artisia Wong(@artisia_wong): I am going to say Horvat will open the scoring.

Eric Bailey(@EBailey16): The first goal will be Boeser as he is working hard and with Bo and Tanner doing the board play, they will wear out the line and then give Boeser a shot.

Michael Coleman(@1MichaelColeman): My bet is that it is somebody that we don’t suspect, like a Sutter.

Deepak(@Deepak_Hockey): I am going to go with Brock Boeser playing against his hometown team. I expect him to come out flying and produce, I feel like he scores the opening goal for the Canucks.

Me(@nucksaid): I’m calling Brock Boeser to open and close the scoring in this series. I have a feeling we’re going to see something special from the kid when the puck drops on Sunday.

5)How many games do you think the play-in round against Minnesota will be, will see a shorter series or one that goes the distance?

Jacob New(@jkmnew): I think it will be a closer series than Canucks fans would hope for. Minnesota and their talent won’t go down without a fight, even with the prospect of #1 overall in the NHL draft as a consolation prize. I see the series going to 4 or 5 games, with Vancouver winning.

Clay Imoo(@CanuckClay): The Canucks will win in 4. A sweep would be nice, but I think it may be unrealistic. If the Canucks can win the first game and Markstrom plays well, I don’t see the Wild coming back in a short series.

Brieann Knorr(@ItsBrieann): I think it’s going to be a longer series.

(@Grampahockey1): Canucks in 4.

(@tams3333): I think it will go the distance. I think every game will be close actually and goal-tending will be the difference.

Artisia Wong(@artisia_wong): I hope we will see a shorter series! The longer the series, the more injuries will happen.

Eric Bailey(@EBailey16): I’ve heard different numbers thrown around but the most likely to me would be 4 games. The Canucks take two. Minny takes one and then the Canucks step up and finish the series.

Michael Coleman(@1MichaelColeman): I’m banking on a 4-game series.

Deepak(@Deepak_Hockey): I think the Canucks take this in 4, although I would not be surprised if it goes to 5. The teams were even in the regular season only by 1 point difference. I can see a lot of tight 1-2 goal hockey games. I don’t expect this series to be lopsided. If this series ends in a sweep either way, I would be surprised.

Me(@nucksaid): I think the Wild will give the Canucks a fight for every inch but I still think the Canucks take the series in 4 games.

6) With the CBA now extended, are you excited about NHL players potentially returning to the Olympic games that may feature a few of the young Canucks?

Jacob New(@jkmnew): Absolutely. If there was anything that the Winter Olympics has missed out on over the last half decade, it is NHL players in the Men’s Ice Hockey competition. Looking forward to 2022, there are bound to be a couple of Canucks to make the cut for their respective countries. Jacob Markstrom would be in contention for Sweden’s starting goalie position and Elias Pettersson could be the country’s top centre-man. Brock Boeser’s shot would be a lethal weapon for the United States team and Quinn Hughes’ mobility and puck-moving skills will make him hard to pass on for Team USA as well. Though these players would not be playing for Team Canada, it is hard to cheer against them when they play just as hard for your own team. If I had to isolate a single player to be most excited to see in the Olympics, it would be Elias Pettersson. His performance at the World Juniors was impressive but he could shine even more knowing what he is capable of at the NHL level at this point in his career.

Clay Imoo(@CanuckClay): I absolutely love Olympic hockey. I love seeing best-on-best and I love seeing Canada compete. You’d think that Pettersson and Markstrom would be automatics for Sweden, while the States could have Hughes, Miller, Boeser and Demko. I think Horvat may have an outside shot at making the Canadian team. And Sweden and Russian might inject some youth with Hoglander and Podkolzin, respectively. I can’t wait!

Brieann Knorr(@ItsBrieann): I’m SO EXCITED that players can go to the Olympics(hopefully). It’s going to be insanely hard to not cheer for the USA with Boes and Huggy on that team! Cannot wait to see these young guys represent their countries!

(@Grampahockey1): I don’t believe the NHL should hijack Olympic hockey games. Having said that, I will of course watch Sweden win the gold so we should be well represented.

(@tams3333): Absolutely! I love Olympic hockey! Such an amazing experience for all the players.

Artisia Wong(@artisia_wong): Yes, I’m so excited for the NHL players to return to the Olympics! It’s always so much fun watching them play!

Eric Bailey(@EBailey16): I haven’t really though much about the Canucks and the Olympics. In one sense, it is better for team Canada to have Canucks there. The NHL at the Olympics will make for some very exciting hockey. With so many good players from other countries, it will be a really competitive and skilled tournament. I have always tracked team Canada and any Canuck players (or former Canucks) when international play is happening. I don’t always watch it though. I don’t see that changing but will still be interesting.

Michael Coleman(@1MichaelColeman): 100%. I think this is what the players want and I am confident it is what the fans want and I am glad they found a solution.

Deepak(@Deepak_Hockey): Yes, I am very excited about NHL players in the Olympics. I think the best in the world should compete. The Olympics also allows hockey to grow on the world wide stage. With the youth and young stars that the Canucks have, they have quite a few future Olympians on their team which would be exciting to watch them play as always. Though I won’t be cheering for them when they play Canada.

Me(@nucksaid): I’m ecstatic to see the players having an opportunity to return to the Olympics. There’s something truly spectacular when the best on best in the sport represent their countries at the Winter games. There’s a fair number of Canucks that have a chance to represent their respective countries and that’ll make for a very exciting and competitive tournament.

That’s it for this edition of the Canucks Round Table! If you’d like to take part the next time, or down the road as we work our way through this new pandemic normal or if you have a question that you’d like to see included in the NEXT round table, find me on twitter (@nucksaid) or send me an e-mail (nucksaid@gmail.com). Special THANK-YOU to each and every person that took the time to be a part of this Round Table! [And if you’re not already following the  participants on twitter, please find their handles in their above responses!] 

As always, until next time, nuck said.

Sarah E.L.

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