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Photo Credit: © Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

WWYDW: Which Vancouver Canucks are the “real” Canucks?

Welcome back to WWYDW, the only hockey column on the internet to never surrender a goal to Tyler Toffoli.

Speaking of old demons coming back to haunt us, the Vancouver Canucks have been pulling a real Jekyll-and-Hyde routine over the first dozen or so games of the 2021 season. Sometimes, their play is downright poetic, but at other times it’s just plain ugly, and one has to wonder which of the two is really the truer representation of the team’s abilities.

Are the Canucks the team that stomped all over the lowly Ottawa Senators and then immediately transitioned into a neat-and-tidy dismantling of the Winnipeg Jets?

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Or are they the team that has a tougher time handling opponents from Quebec than Brian Mulroney?

There are those who will say that, despite the lopsided scores in their three-game series, the Canucks are closer in quality to the Senators than they are the rest of the North Division. For those folks, the Canucks’ performance against the Jets can be chalked up mostly to luck, and their demise against the Canadiens nothing less than inevitable.

Then there are those who believe that the Canucks are, in fact, capable of running away with things in the North, and that these early stumbles are nothing more than growing pains as Travis Green’s squad tries to put it all together.

And then there’s plenty of folks, and probably the truth, somewhere in the middle.

For now, we want to hear where you stand on the matter, because this week we’re asking you:

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Which version of the Canucks (the one we saw against Ottawa and Winnipeg, or the one we saw against Montreal) is the truer representation of the team’s ability?

Last week, we asked:

Which Canucks’ forward do you think should be healthy scratched on a regular basis?

Your speculative roster cards are listed below!

J-Canuck:

In a shortened season, I believe that Beagle, Sutter, and Roussel should all get days off. Bring in young guys like Zach and Gaud.

Alex G:

(Winner of the author’s weekly award for eloquence)

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If you answer the question “Which Canucks’ forward do you think should be healthy scratched on a regular basis?” literally, IMO there is only one player that comes to mind: Loui Eriksson. They key words being “regular basis.”

With two forward spots that are scratched on game day, and Eriksson occupying one of those spots, I think there should be more of a revolving door for a few forwards that take up that second spot. That’s not to say that LE should never play, as it’s important for him to get the odd/rare game to keep him ready if/when needed due to injuries, but at this stage of his career he has less to offer the Canucks than the other players he is competing with in the lineup. Should two of our forward penalty killers be lost to extended injury, he may get a chance to play more.

The second spot should be occupied by a one of Gaudette, MacEwan, Roussel, Virtanen, and whoever else may need a break or a message sent at the time. Each of those four mentioned players bring something different to the table, and Green should play the players that match up best to the competition that they will be facing. As much as many would like to see more of Gaudette and MacEwan, in this shortened season they should not be in the lineup at the same time too often, barring injuries, as the Canucks are determined to make the playoffs and every game matters more than usual. Roussel and Virtanen are more established and should be scratched less.

Finally, multiple injuries could obviously play a factor, but since who that will affect is impossible to say in advance, I won’t comment on that at this point in time, other than to say the dynamics could quickly change.

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Bud Poile:

Fully agree with Alex.

The cap is an issue and showing Loui the exit door is imperative.

speering major:

Revolving door.

Currently, I agree with Gaudette. ZM, Roussel, and JV should be on the block. It will take a miracle to keep Sutter healthy.

neal:

I was a JV hopeful for the last three years, not so much now. Let him sit.

El Kabong:

Which Canucks’ forward do you think should be healthy scratched on a regular basis?

Well, I don’t think it should be MacEwen or Gaudette for starters. Right now, I’d like to see Roussel as the regular healthy scratch. He’s one of those guys that moves his feet like crazy but doesn’t go anywhere. Also, his jabber is just firing up the other teams, rather than getting in their heads. But then once Sutter cools off, I’d rotate him and Beagle in and out of the lineup.

Holly Wood:

I don’t see the point in designating a 13th forward. There is enough roster tweaking going on with injuries, waking up a slumping player, family issues, load management ie. that we seldom see clubs ice the same group three games in a row. Am I happy with this group? Last week, not so much. This week against Ottawa? Yes, fairly happy.

Hockey Bunker:

The most tired one.

As this schedule goes along, fresh legs will become more and more important, so rotate out the most tired and put in one or two fresh, especially back-to-back.

This season is like a double playoff run.

There is enough depth of the lineup to do this. And on D, give Edler a night off every three weeks or so, or every time Canucks play Ottawa.

KootenayDude:

It’s pretty obvious that the overpaid invisible man Jake should be sitting. Zach and Roussel play like Jake is supposed to. Throwing his body around and stirring things up. Otherwise, in this shortened condensed season, I’m hoping every one of these guys gets a rest day. Canucks have been playing five games every eight days. Their schedule gets lighter while others in the division will start to play more. Should benefit the Canucks.

fv fan:

Injuries will come for sure and this will become a “who can we bring in?” vs “who we are sitting?”

That said, Virtanen looks completely uninterested in everything he does.

The kid needs a change of scenery to see if he can get his career going.

Likely won’t get much for him, but maybe packaging him off with one of our high-priced dud’s is possible to gain some cap space?

Roussel is hurting the team out there. Not the same player he used to be.

Eriksson, get him to the ECHL and leave him there. Maybe then he will waive his no-trade and we can ditch him to a team needing to get the salary floor, even if that means giving a 2nd rounder with him.

Defenceman Factory:

Sitting Gaudette in favor of Sutter to center the third line is the right decision. I really don’t see Gaudette becoming an effective centreman in the NHL.

If the Canucks are serious about moving Gaudette to the wing, I think Roussel should sit some games so Gaudette can be cycled in. Last game it was Virtanen who sat. Jake hasn’t been piling up the points, but he has been doing a good job of finishing his checks. There haven’t been too many mistakes but he still needs to be careful about taking penalties. Roussel hasn’t looked bad on the PK, so there is a tradeoff against Jake’s size and speed. In the minus column, Roussel’s constant yammering and stupid penalties hurt the team. Rotating pressbox time between Gaudette, Virtanen, and Roussel is an okay strategy for now. I want to see MacEwan stay in the lineup. We are just starting to see this guy emerge as an effective player. He looks extremely fit and has good speed. The points will come.

Acquiring an effective third line center should still be a high priority for the Canucks. The fourth line is better with Sutter on the wing, and although he is an adequate third line center, he isn’t great. He won’t be re-signed, so a big void is coming. Beagle is here next season, then gone. Hopefully the Canucks can upgrade when Beagle is replaced. It’s very optimistic to think the Canucks have two prospects who can become regular NHL centers, let alone good ones. They need a third line center much quicker than developing one out of the 2021 draft.

I do believe Gaudette can be an effective winger. With Podkolzin on the way, the Canucks have extra wingers to use as part of a trade, but they will need to add a substantial asset to a bottom-six winger to get a third line center.

Ragnarok Ouroboros:

I think Virtanen is the player that should sit out. He has done nothing. He is not noticeable at all during the games so why play him.

Gaudette has already sat out games, but I don’t think he deserved to. Gaudette is a good offensive driver who is generating at least one grade A scoring chance a game. Maybe playing him on Sutter’s wing is the right way to manage Gaudette defensively, but definitely do not sit him.

Roussel and Beagle are forgettable. I would have MacEwen or Motte over those two any day.

Robby-D:

Roussel. Play JV18 in situations he excels at (attacking on the rush, PP2) until Game 15 or 20, then look for a trade partner.

Roussel has energy, but IMHO he’s a net-negative impact on winning games. Love him; but sit him.