Welcome back to another efficacious edition of WDYTT, the only hockey column on the internet that asks more questions than it answers.
Full disclosure: We know we’ve asked you to throw together your best Canucks lineups a couple of times already this season, but now we’ve got to ask you to do it one last time.
That’s because, as a fanbase, we now have a lot more information to work with in order to determine which players should be suiting up come Game 1 of Vancouver’s play-in series against Minnesota, and which players should be watching from the pressbox.
As training camp has progressed — follow David Quadrelli and Chris Faber on Twitter for expert coverage on that front — a couple of key storylines have emerged that should have an impact on who makes it into the lineup.
Jake Virtanen might have lost his spot — and his place in fans’ hearts — to Zack MacEwen.
Antoine Roussel, on the other hand, appears back in fighting form after a disappointing regular season.
Some of the Black Aces, like Olli Juolevi, Brogan Rafferty, and Kole Lind, have been impressing and pushing for ice-time.
Heck, even Loui Eriksson has looked solid!
Clearly, coach Travis Green has a lot of tough decisions to make over the next week-and-a-half.
But before he does, it’s your turn, because this week we’re asking:
What do you think the Canucks’ lineup should be for Game 1 against the Minnesota Wild?
Which players on the Minnesota Wild are you most worried about heading into the play-in series?
Your responses were fairly limited, which is probably good news for the Canucks, and are listed below!
The only player I can say I would fear would be Dubnyk. He hasn’t been great lately but was third in Vezina voting a few years ago. Goalies are tough to get a bead on, and a four-month layoff could give him the rest he needed. A hot goalie can win a short series.
I chose Dubnyk because he has had success in the playoffs before, but any goalie getting hot is a player to fear in a five-game series.
In a five-game series, I would fear whichever goalie they decide to dress for the series, who then goes on a hot streak.
Matt Dumba. He has that Winterhawks spirit and, when healthy, can score at will.
Jordan Greenway. Big. Skates well. Wins board battles. Can blot out the sun from the front of the net.
Beer Can Boyd:
Marcus Foligno, who pushed around countless Canucks like kids in the last two games between the teams. They really need to dress MacEwen to have any answer to that.
Their defensive corps, which on the whole outclasses Vancouver’s.
Okay, one defenseman…Suter. But with guys like Brodin, Dumba, Spurgeon, and Soucy, it’s going to be a tough slog for the Canucks. The only weak link on defence looks like Hunt.
Beer Can Boyd:
The Wild are not a scary team and they don’t have much in the way of gamebreakers. They are the epitome of a barely average team. Beat them and demonstrate the Canucks have developed into a playoff team. Lose and identify where the gaps are holding the team back.
I mean, it has to be Fiala, doesn’t it? The Wild are so reliant on him to drive offense that they can focus on a shutdown game with their defense, if he’s producing.
Those are the kind of teams we’ve struggled against all season. If they can focus on shutting him down, they stand a better chance of getting the lead, and that’s what you need against a tight-checking team. If they get the lead, he’s the guy who scares me the most, because while they’re clamping down on a 1-0 lead, he’s the most likely to strike on a turnover and push the lead to a much more difficult 2-0.
Galchenyuk in his contract year. #2 Fiala. #3 Spurgeon. #4 Goaler (pick one of three).
Chiming in myself this week to pad the word-count.
My pick is Eric Staal.
He rebounded a bit this season compared to last, even though he’s still not playing anywhere near the best hockey of his career. But, he’s still a savvy veteran center who has a long history of absolutely crushing it in the postseason, and perhaps the long layoff will have benefitted him.
Staal is also enormous, checking in at 6’4” and 206 lbs. That’s going to be a lot for Elias Pettersson, Bo Horvat, and Adam Gaudette to handle, especially night-in and night-out during the play-in series.
Don’t be surprised if Staal makes a massive impact on this series.