Welcome back to What Do You Think Thursday.
The NHL has already made it clear that its eight pending play-in series, now scheduled to start July 30, DO NOT count as true Stanley Cup Playoff games — something that has already led to plenty of confusion and consternation.
So I'm told the NHL still hasn't decided yet what to do with these stats from the round-robin/play-in round. It's not really regular season, and it's not really playoffs. So it will be interesting what they decide to do with that. https://t.co/GBkK4W37hm
— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) May 26, 2020
That decision will no doubt have an impact on career statlines, performance bonuses, and conditional trades — but what it shouldn’t impact is the trademark increased excitement of postseason play.
In fact, it could be argued that the various play-in series’ — which will each be a best-of-five format — will be even more intense than the typical first round of the postseason, given their condensed nature. All of those things that traditionally make the playoffs so drastically different from the regular season — physicality, emotion, and desperation — aren’t going to disappear just because a series “doesn’t count” as a real playoff game.
Which brings us to the Vancouver Canucks.
The Canucks last made the postseason in the 2014/15 season. The only players still left on the roster from that team are Alex Edler, Chris Tanev, Bo Horvat, Jacob Markstrom, and Sven Baertschi. Several of the franchise’s core talents — including Elias Pettersson, Quinn Hughes, Jake Virtanen, and Adam Gaudette — have yet to skate a minute of NHL playoff hockey.
As fans well know, not every player is built for the playoffs, but some players are REALLY built for the playoffs. That means that certain Canucks are going to probably struggle when they get a taste of the postseason this summer, and certain Canucks are going to thrive.
Is JT Miller about to prove himself even more valuable?
Can Jacob Markstrom replicate the heights of his one-time Calder Cup Finals run?
Will Elias Pettersson continue his ascension to the elite ranks of NHL centers?
Will Quinn Hughes be able to keep dominating possession when everything gets a little bit hectic?
Is Jake Virtanen going to get back to throwing his body around with reckless abandon?
We’ll leave the rest of the hype up to you because this week we’re asking:
Which Canuck are you most excited to see play in the postseason?
And speaking of stellar performances, last week we asked:
Who do you think was the Canucks’ MVP in the 2019/20 regular season? And why?
Your responses are below!
Beer Can Boyd:
All four had great seasons, but I still say Markstrom by a good-sized margin. When the Canucks become good enough that their #1 goalie is not the MVP, that will be the time they are ready to realistically challenge for the Cup.
Hard to pick between Miller, Petey, Marky, or Huggy. All four had an impact on the season and each one added their own dynamic element to the team that impacted the season as a whole.
I’ll have to defer to my gut in this one and go with JT Miller. He was the guy that came to this team with a bit of a swagger that they seemed to be lacking in previous years. Miller provided toughness to the forward group and set new personal records in scoring while doing it. I can’t really credit Miller alone with bringing this team over the playoff hump, as hockey truly is a team sport, but I do think that he played an essential role in leading by example — how the forward group can believe in themselves to get their game to the next level.
It is a close race.
I really like the point about “leading by example” – Miller showed that skilled players can (and should) play with physicality, and there were reports this rubbed off on JV (and it was visibly impacting EP’s play).
This year’s MVP, though, is Markstrom. Looking at Miller’s play and leadership this year, I think he was most valuable in a longer-term context. He instilled lessons in the younger players that will impact the club in years to come, even if his own individual performance was less impactful to this season’s W/L results as Markstrom’s. That said, I think the MVP award is usually given in the context of the season’s results, not “long-term value of that player’s contribution to the club.” Since Markstrom single-handedly resulted in so many games that should’ve been L’s turning into W’s, I’d give MVP to Marky.
To me though, the player who is the highest “value” on the team (the most “valuable” player) is a very tough choice between EP and QH. Looking at their current performance versus their ceiling, and the impact of leadership, passion, etc., Petey seems to have the most intrinsic “value,” and his play this year was nowhere near his ceiling.
This is a tough choice between Marky and Miller. Marky kept the team in games despite a ton of point-blank shots, but JT made the first line into a true first line. Taking faceoffs while adding some grit allowed EP to be on the ice more and made him a better player.
It’s close, but I think Marky is MVP — but I still believe Demko will be the goalie that leads the Canucks during their next Cup window.
It’s a good sign when you have four worthy candidates for an MVP award. Hughes is not quite there yet, but he made such a difference that he belongs in the conversation.
I agree with all the Marky Mark voters, but Miller is definitely second. Other than Hughes he was the best play driver for the team. Excellent on faceoffs, excellent defensively, he performed in all facets of the game. 72 points in 69 GP isn’t too shabby either.
(Winner of the author’s weekly award for eloquence)
”We few, we happy few, we band of brothers.” Although that band includes the whole team, it really comes down to the band of four. Any of this quartet is worthy of the award for the excellent year they each had. But for me the MVP award goes to … Jacob Markstrom for his leading role in The Return of the Playoffs.
As good as Marky and Miller have been, I do not see them as the MVP, only players playing to their expected potential. Canucks gave up a first and a Hall of Famer for these players. I see the two other players as the obvious candidates. Pick either one and you cannot lose.
Ken Priestlay Fan:
While I get the clamour for Markstrom to get it, and I still think that the team’s best player Pettersson, the new guys are the ones that have done most to push the team on to the next level and, just as importantly, make them more entertaining. As awesome as Hughes has been this season (he’s going to be a Norris finalist in the next three seasons, I reckon), it’s Miller for me. He’s taken a big step forward as a player (I thought he was underrated at Tampa, anyway) and he’s helped to elevate those around him. His counting stats probably benefited from a season with EP, but he’s been great.