Another week, another mailbag, another time for me to cover for David Quadrelli as he is enjoying some much needed vacation time on the beautiful west coast!
We received a lot of good questions and some great ones too. I’ll get into a few of my favourites as the Vancouver Canucks are currently leading their series against the St. Louis Blues by a count of 2-1.
Let’s see what you wonderful people asked this week.
If the Canucks do beat the Blues in round 1.. do we have to reconsider our opinions on a few of JB's signings & acquisitions?
Has he sneakily built a playoff contending team?
— Blake (@Blake_Hitch14) August 17, 2020
This is an excellent question from Blake, who has been doing excellent prospect work lately. He is worth a follow on Twitter if you are into WHL prospect reports for the upcoming draft.
I’m sure a few people are shocked to see how effective players like Brandon Sutter, Jay Beagle and Tyler Motte have been in this series. The trio of penalty killers have been excellent when called upon while shorthanded. They have limited one of the deadliest powerplays in the NHL to only two goals in three games. At times the Blues powerplay looks atrocious and that is due to the aggressiveness from Motte, Beagle and Sutter.
That’s all fine and dandy. But to reconsider our opinions on Jim Benning because of one series is still a bit too early. The Canucks benefited from the break as many of their veteran players were given extra time off to recover and it’s not like he built this team with the knowledge that this was coming.
Unless Benning knew…
No, no he didn’t.
There was a tweet from TSN’s Gord Miller saying that some Canucks fans owe an apologize to Benning.
Just keep doing what they’re doing. That’s a good young team that is only going to get better. I think some Canucks fans owe Jim Benning an apology. https://t.co/egDV9Bqj1C
— Gord Miller (@GMillerTSN) August 16, 2020
This is ludicrous. Sure, some have been too critical of Benning in the past but he has made some egregious mistakes in his time with the Canucks and the loss of players in this offseason will highlight that.
I think Canucks fans need to be happy with where they’re at right right now. They are up in a series against the defending Stanley Cup Champions but are still very far away from being champions in their own right. Benning’s goal for the season was to make the playoffs. They did that and we should applaud him to a certain degree for going out and building a team to get them there for the first time in five years.
It also took five years for his plan to come to fruition and that seems strange for a man who said he thinks he can turn around this team quickly. Pettersson and Hughes moved this franchise up a year or two for being a competitive playoff team and Benning did draft those players so give him props for that.
Benning has set the Canucks up in a position where the team can go on a magical run, he has also set the team up by adding veteran talent at a high price with long terms attached. Is a fourth line player worth three million dollars?
Not when you are about to pay 20 million for your two franchise players and have to make tough roster decisions.
I think Benning has improved during his tenure as an NHL general manager, if he continues to learn and get better on the job he could begin to be praised for building a playoff contending team. For now, nobody owes Benning an apology unless you had them finishing in the bottom five of the NHL this season.
Which some people did have as a prediction this year.
Good choice to go with Jake Allen to start game 3? Yes or No.
— Brayden Ursel (@bkursel23) August 17, 2020
When you choose to make a goaltending switch in a series, it sometimes is to do with giving your team a spark. The Blues played their best game in game three and you could say some of that was to do with having fresh meat between the pipes.
Jake Allen made saves when he needed to and in the end they got the win so it turned out to be a good decision. Jordan Binnington may have been one of the top goalies in the NHL this season but he looked like Swiss cheese at time against the Canucks shooters in the first two games.
The Canucks may have been in Binnington’s head a bit after the first two games and I’ll be interested to see if the Blues want to ride the Allen wave through this series or will go back to Binnington later on.
Right now, it looks like a good choice. Let’s see if the Canucks face Allen in game three and bring more 5-on-5 pressure to him though.
Best chips to eat while watching the game?
— diaper filled piss baby (@789012any) August 17, 2020
Well, diaper filled piss baby, there are plenty of options in the chip world. I’ll break it down in tiers.
Top tier is nachos. If you have the supplies, make nachos. Get sour cream, some mango salsa and guacamole if you’re in the mood. It’s hard to beat nachos and if you really want to take it to the next level I recommend half tortilla chips and half sweet chili heat Doritos. You won’t regret that decision, unless you don’t have Tums of Pepto Bismol.
Second tier is chips and dip.
It is hard to beat salted crinkle chips with a French onion dip. Helluva good dip does the trick for me but you can go with any brand to be honest. Chips and dip is an underrated snack in my opinion and doesn’t get the love it deserves. Be an adult and get chip dip.
The final tier is just simple chips.
Chips are great, they go well with beer, they go well with pop and they go well with hockey. I like something with some kick, whether that be some spice or some outrageous flavour — sign me up.
Give me Lays ketchup chips, give me jalapeno Mrs. Vickies or give me flaming hot Cheetos.
Are Cheetos considered a chip?
How did Myers' absence effect the Canucks in game 3?
— PUCKS ON NET (@Pucksonnetca) August 17, 2020
First off, bringing in Jordie Benn to play the right side wasn’t the worst thing for the Canucks in game three. Benn looked solid in his off side and he’s a fine number seven defenceman to play for this team in case of injury.
With Tyler Myers out of the lineup, I think it limited Travis Green’s options with the defence core.
Something I really have like from Green in these playoffs is his ability to adapt to certain faceoff situations. He has used extra centres in the defensive zone and loaded up his defence pairings in offensive zone faceoffs.
Myers helped with the latter as Green would throw out Quinn Hughes and Myers at times for offensive zone faceoffs when The Lotto Line was on the ice. Myers brings a presence in the offensive zone that works well with Hughes and the numbers from the regular season show that when Myers and Hughes were together the team scored a lot of goals.
Though he took a ton of penalties in this postseason, Myers is a defenceman who can be very useful for this team and though you can rip his game when he’s in action — you miss him when he’s not playing. The second powerplay unit takes a hit with Alex Edler patrolling the point and Myers’ pure size helps the Canucks around their net.
It’s definitely a loss for the team but Rick Dhaliwal of TSN1040 is reporting that the injury may only hold Myers out of action for 7-10 days. He makes this team better in many parts of the ice so without him they are worse.
Who is the unsung hero of the series
— thomas anderson (@thewritestart) August 17, 2020
Easy, it’s Tyler Motte.
Though Motte has been hemmed in his own zone at even strength, he has been excellent on the penalty kill. He blocks shots like a man on a mission and has been able to get under the Blues top players skin. Motte is fifth in ice time for Canucks forwards and is being asked to do a lot for this team. Aside from generating offence, he’s doing an amazing job and some breaks may come his way if he keeps pleasing the hockey gods with his defensive play.
I think that’s the easy answer though so I’ll give you another one.
Markstrom has been under fire at 5-on-5 and has been excellent when his team needs a save. There is a higher level of expectation on Markstrom after the extraordinary season that he put in but his great play should be recognized.
With a 0.948 save percentage at 5-on-5, Markstrom is shutting the door on a Blues team that has dominated possession time at even strength. When he gets into a groove the Canucks are a much better team as they rely on their backstop to keep them in games long enough for their stars to take over. Markstrom is a star in his own right and though it is somewhat expected from him now, he still should receive praise.
JT Miller is an honourable mention too.
How far can the Canucks go without the top line producing at 5-on-5?
— Ben Dover (@ben__dover99) August 17, 2020
If they can rely on their powerplay to click at a 30% rate through the playoffs they can go far. Without the powerplay being elite, they won’t go far at all.
The Lotto Line needs to be better at 5-on-5. They will continue to get the toughest matchups as these playoffs go on and this series against the Ryan O’Reilly line may be one of the toughest matchups they will see.
With last change, The Lotto Line was able to get away from the O’Reilly line and it showed in their possession numbers as game three was the first time that Pettersson’s line controlled a majority of the shot share.
They will need The Lotto Line to be better and then the rest of the lineup needs to fall into place with some timely goals.
Horvat’s line has looked strong at evens and they will need to keep that going. Loui Eriksson has been excellent defensively but his offensive game needs to be better to really consider this line a threat in the offensive zone. I like that Eriksson is getting chances but he needs to get results for me to go all in on the six million dollar man.
How good is Bieksa on the panel? He just shoved Burrows down Ron’s throat. Got to love that.
— sylfenwil (@sylfenwil) August 17, 2020
He’s excellent. I enjoyed him throughout the regular season on Hockey Night in Canada and he deserves to be on the playoff panel.
Kevin Bieksa’s personality is made for television and he is not afraid to call out any of his co-workers on air. His stories are fun and might be a bit Canucks biased but we love it.
I love to see some chemistry growing between Bieksa and Cassie Campbell-Pascall. I think Campbell-Pascall does an amazing job of breaking down the game and though she is new to the business and still has some on-air things to work on — she is an excellent add to the panel.
I hope to see both of them on our television screens for years to come.
Which Canuck prospect would you sneak into the bubble for tomorrow’s game, and who would they replace?
(Presuming they could do so without getting in trouble)
— Andy Lau (@ALaudBrother) August 17, 2020
If you could sneak Vasili Podkolzin out of Russia and into Edmonton I would be very interested in seeing what he could do at the NHL level. I’ve been following Podkolzin’s preseason action very closely and he already looks like a much better player than he was last season.
He can contribute on the powerplay, on the penalty kill and is a play driver at 5-on-5. I don’t think he would be a top nine player for the Canucks if he was in this series right now but could have a similar impact to how Horvat did in the 2015 series. Podkolzin is such a student of the game that he could play in a fourth line role and be noticeable for the Canucks right now.
We will have fun watching this kid develop over in Russia this season and expect to see a lot of highlight goals and assists as the year goes on.
That’s all for this week folks! I love covering for Dave on these mailbag articles and hope you enjoy them too. The Canucks are back in action Monday night at 7:30 and will be playing game five on Wednesday. We will have you covered for every game this series and I’ll be keeping my eye on Podkolzin overseas as well.
See you all next week for another Mailbag Monday!