Greatest Canucks’ mustache: Babych or Snepsts? – @staticotaku
H: Tough first question. I’m gonna go with Snepsts, and for totally subjective reasons. It was a slightly fuller, more unkempt mustache that covered a little more area. And because of its downward curvature, he looks the most like Mr. Johnson, the beleaguered blue Muppet who constantly makes the mistake of eating at Charlie’s Restaurant, where Waiter Grover works. I have so much sympathy for Mr. Johnson, as there were clearly no other restaurants in Sesame Street (like the Red Robin in Maple Ridge), I can’t help but love Harold Snepsts.
H: Because MSN.com has the last word on this, apparently.
H: Yes and no. The Canucks don’t play Schneider in games to actively showcase him to other teams. Organizations have scouts so that teams don’t have to do that. However, the Canucks are definitely going to trade him eventually, and Schneider’s great play is turning every one of his starts into a showcase. Effectively, and we’ve said this before, Schneider is showcasing himself.
H: I can safely say I have no idea what Schneider will fetch in a trade. His potential is immense, but there’s little frame of reference for his open market value. Some people have pointed to Jaroslav Halak as a frame of reference (who fetched a decent prospect and a third), but I think it’s a completely different situation. Schneider’s younger, projects to be better, and, if the Canucks trade him this offseason, he won’t require contract negotiations on the heels of a breakout postseason that could have been a fluke. Halak’s situation was unique because his value spiked suddenly, and St. Louis got him for relatively cheap because they were willing to deal with that. That’s why Schneider’s value will be the highest if the Canucks trade him after this season: he’ll still be on an affordable deal.
There are risks with acquiring Frecklesnoot too. His likely price means that he has to play like a starter for a GM to justify his acquisition. It’s risky, especially since Schneider has still only played a handful of NHL games–his body of work is impressive, but it’s a small sample size on which to judge the rest of his career. A hesitant GM could point to the team in front of him. You’ve probably noticed the Canucks are the best team in the NHL, and that tends to inflate stats. That said, Schneider still has the appearance and pedigree of a future stud, and there are teams out there I have to believe are eager to acquire his services.
The Canucks won’t trade him until the offseason. Schneider remains an acceptable option if Luongo suffers a postseason injury or meltdown. And, if the Canucks go deep into the playoffs (or, perish the thought, win the Cup), then Schneider’s value goes up yet again because he’s got playoff experience on his impressive resume.
Why and how did you pick Bulis as your blog’s mascot? — @artemchubarov
D: The phrase “Pass it to Bulis!” dates back to the 2007 playoffs, when the Canucks faced the Stars in the first round. As you may recall, game one of that series went an absurd four overtimes and was the 6th longest game in NHL history. It was an insane game: Brent Sopel had injured his back prior to the game picking up a cracker. The players needed intravenous fluids to stay hydrated between periods. Both Burrows and Cooke were injured early and ended up as the only players on the Canucks to play fewer than 20 minutes. Willie Mitchell led the Canucks with over 47 minutes in icetime. Crazy.
H: Stupid Bulis? How dare you speak ill about the patron saint of this blog! I would never.
What made Wellwood so endearing to you? — @indelibleline
H: Well, he’s adorable. But I think we’ve been drawn to Wellwood because he’s such a unique personality. Welly’s unique, but he’s also uniquely self-aware in that he can speak honestly about his quirks. This is a guy who once called himself the weakest guy in the NHL, and he’s never backed down from that or tried to fix it. He just doesn’t like to work out. He’s got incredible skill, but sometimes I think he kinds of regrets it, maybe wishes he did something else. He seems like the rare guy for whom it’s just a job, and I think I admire that, because I recognize those feelings of wage-earners’ ennui in myself. We are all Kyle Wellwood.
Why are Canucks fans finding things to rag on Luongo about? Is he forever going to be the focal point of fans’ whining? — @camdavie
H: Yes. Luongo’s been touted as the savior of a skeptical Canucks’ fanbase, and they’re constantly looking for flaws in his game to validate their pessimism. There are a number of other factors, too. First, people don’t really understand the goaltending position or how situational it is. They don’t understand that no goalie stops every shot, or that Martin Brodeur, widely believed to be the greatest goalie of all time, played much better behind a solid defense in a solid defensive system. Marty’s not playing so well these days, but nobody’s clamoring to strip him of his legacy. They understand he doesn’t have the team in front of him that he once did. Luongo, on the other hand, takes the blame for every goal that goes in, because he has yet to achieve the Brodeur-like success people expect of him, and Cup-hungry fans examine those expectations in a vacuum.
Are the Canucks happy with Bieksa and Hamhuis as the shutdown pair or are we short a top stay-at-home D? — @arby18
H: I think they’re extremely happy with the pairing. Bieksa and Hamhuis are a shutdown defensive pairing that moves the puck exceptionally well, but if you want to know where their real strengths are, it’s along the boards. Between Hamhuis’ team-best hipchecking and Bieksa’s team-best pinching, these guys control the boards in both zones, severely cutting down on the workload in front of their own net.
Do we have a number one defenceman? — @beninvictoria
H: Yes we do. His name is Alex Edler. Although I know what you’re getting at. The Canucks rely heavily and equally on four guys. I think Canuck fans see guys like Lidstrom, Pronger, Keith, or Doughty, and assume we can’t win unless we have a perennial all-star like that, and we don’t.
But the assumption isn’t true. Other Cup prerequisites that aren’t true: you can’t win with a Euro captain; you can’t win with a high-paid netminder; a skilled team can’t beat a gritty team; you can’t win with a questionable fourth-line. Here’s what happens every year: the best team in the NHL wins the cup, and then people extrapolate their strengths and claim that’s the special formula for winning. Think about the previous Cup winners and how, every season, the radio guys claim the Canucks don’t have enough of whatever that team’s best element was. Carolina didn’t have a defensive stud. Detroit had a Euro captain. Marc-Andre Fleury made five million a year.
The Canucks have a different model for their defense than Chicago did, relying equally on four guys rather than heavily on two. If it works out for them, you’ll hear people saying you need two top pairings rather than one. If it doesn’t, people will continue to clamour for a defensive stud to anchor the defense.
Why is Samuelsson playing [badly]? — @RE4713
H: He isn’t. Samuelsson has been fourth in team points almost all season, and still remains the top scorer after the Sedins and Kesler. He remains one of the team’s headiest players, and his patience and stickhandling continue to make room for his teammates. He plays a similar plodding style to the Sedins, however, and that confuses people who think: slow=bad; fast=good.
That said, he’s not playing as well as last season, but last season was a bit of a peak year for him. An inordinate number of his goals were fluky (Sam’s Surprises, we called them). He was bound to come back to earth, and he has. Unfortunately, this is why people are on him. Ignore the decreased goal totals and look a little closer: you’ll see he’s still making massive and valuable contributions.
One of my friends thinks the Sedins should be the first option for defensive zone faceoffs. He says that a team should send out their best players to defend their own zone against the opposition’s top line because they have the skill to break up plays and exit the zone, with possession. I disagree and would like to hear your thoughts. — Reid
H: The short version: you’re right and your friends are wrong. The long version: zone starts are one of the ways a coach can manage the game from the bench, and it’s a pretty simple principle. Get your offensive stars out in the offensive zone, where they have a headstart on what they do best. Conversely, get your top defenders out in the defensive zone for the same reason. Why do otherwise? Your best offensive players may stickhandle out of the defensive zone, but they waste their energy playing defense and skating through the neutral zone, then all they’ve got left is to dump it in and change. If you have a choice, you start them in the offensive zone and hope they stay there.
H: Right. Your friends are the stupid ones.