I posed some "burning" questions to our Nucks Misconduct contributors about the upcoming Canucks - Sharks series and thankfully they did not ignore me. I'll throw my 2 cents in too. Feel free to answer the questions as well in the comments section!
1. Which Sharks player do you despise the most and why?
Yankee Canuck: How do can you despise a player on a team that's as painfully uninteresting as the city that bares its name? OK OK I'll try. Martin Havlat and his one working leg? No, wait, let's try Logan Couture because I don't trust a man who's body weight is 95% concentrated in his front teeth. Or Scott Gomez perhaps or is that kicking a monumentally over-rated dead horse? Oh, speaking of over-rated it would be equally cruel to single out Adam Burish because someone would have to walk him through this answer phonetically and, honestly, who has the time these days? So I'll go with Dan Boyle since his incessant bitching the last time these teams met brought me so much joy. And an honorable mention for Raffi Torres because he'll decapitate someone on our end this time and then perhaps the love affair with that hapless ginger can finally be over.
Kent Basky: Joe Thornton. Maybe it's that residual Broon in his DNA (it's kind of like chlamydia, you never get rid of it), or his pathetic display a while back where he was putting his hands in Henrik's face while they were attempting to talk to the officials, on a team of crybabies, Big Joe is the biggest jerk.
Missy: Adam Burish. Mainly because he's an ex-Hawk who has been under our skin before. Overall, none of the other Sharks really annoy me at all.
vancitydan: I despise Adam Burish on general principles, but he is really just a no account not much of a player, sort of an irritant more or less. So, Gold Medal winner Joe Thornton for me. Stick your finger in someone else's face. Or, just stick it...
nucksandpucks: Adam Burish. Ex-Blackhawk from the 2008 and 2009 series. Hard to like anyone from those Hawks rosters - in which case, add Antti Niemi to this list.
Jordan Clarke: With Ryan Clowe and Ben Eager gone, I don't really despise any of the Sharks. Adam Burish isn't enough of a threat as a hockey player to warrant hating. I haven't heard Patrick Marleau string enough actual words together to form an opinion on him. Joe Thornton looks like a big goofy cartoon. Logan Couture's obsession with the Canadian rapper Drake is rather adorable. Let's go with Tommy Wingels. Yeah, I despise Tommy Wingels.
Zanstorm: Joe Thornton. I have never liked that guy, unless he was wearing a Team Canada jersey. For such a big guy, he plays like a puss. A really gifted puss.
2. Which do you prefer: Derek Roy playing on the 2nd line with Kesler or Roy centering the 3rd line with say, Chris Higgins?
Yankee Canuck: Against the Sharks I think Kesler and Roy should be separated. San Jose is very deep at centre, so the Canucks need to spread out their depth appropriately. A fast, skilled 3rd line anchored by Roy could wreak havoc on San Jose's plodding 3rd pairing of Brad Stuart and Scott Hannan.
Kent Basky: 3rd line. Higgins and Roy have shown some decent chemistry together, and the more lines that are a legitimate threat we can throw at them, with a defence that's as suspect (or worse) as ours, the better. Kesler's a natural center and while he's looked alright on the wing, at least for this series it makes sense for him to be in the middle.
Missy: I've liked seeing Roy on the 2nd line with Kesler so far, they seem to work quite well together. I'd like to see that stick, although AV's line-juggling tendencies might ruin that.
vancitydan: For this series, I prefer both centres having their own lines. I do think that if needed, that is AV's first move when he needs a jolt or a goal. #PlayoffLappy moves up, Higgins can go between Kes or Roy's line. ( they both have chemistry with him! )
nucksandpucks: I like Roy and Kesler together on the 2nd line, with a speedy 3rd line (Hansen, Raymond, and seriously AV get Jordan Schroeder back up here) behind them that can also cause some havoc.
Jordan Clarke: Against the Sharks I think Kesler and Roy should be separated. San Jose is very deep at centre, so the Canucks need to spread out their depth appropriately. A fast, skilled 3rd line anchored by Roy could wreak havoc on San Jose's plodding 3rd pairing of Brad Stuart and Scott Hannan.
Zanstorm: I'm all about depth in the playoffs. I'd like to see Roy on line 3 to make 3 lines of death. Lord knows he makes the players around him better.
3. Is Alex Edler going to be the death of us? Or do you expect him to step it up several notches in the hitting department and stop turning the puck over?
Yankee Canuck: With all the injuries Edler remains the best all around guy they have so he'll naturally be more prone to mistakes as he pinches and makes decisions on the rush (or perhaps he really, really likes giving away turnovers because he's socialist). I don't care if he's credited with a hit all series, I'd like to see him play more confidentially at both ends. If he can find that sweet spot of his game, he's a game changer. No time like the present.
Kent Basky: I don't think Alex Edler can play any worse this year, that's for sure. I don't what the issue is, but he's certainly gotten away from the style of game that made him so effective. If he just simplifies things, makes life difficult for Sharks forwards and take a second to read the play before committing those maddening turnovers, he'll be fine.
Missy: Edler is not so great this year. He's been making so many mistakes, I almost don't want to wear my Edler tshirt!!! He really needs to earn his keep to be our next superstar defenceman, and a strong playoffs would certainly help out there.
vancitydan: I think that people won't be happy without someone on the blue line to bitch about, and when you play as many minutes as Edler, shit happens. That said, I do think we get more" Bobby Orr "than" Bambi."
nucksandpucks: I am expecting Edler to turn it on these playoffs. I think he'll be our best blueliner.
Jordan Clarke: I'm fully expecting Playoff Edler to make his presence felt in this series. You take the good with the bad with Edler; he turns the puck over sometimes because he has it on his stick a lot. He's never going to be the dominant #1 defenceman everyone hoped he would be, but what he is is still very valuable: a big, physical puck mover with a ton of offensive ability.
Zanstorm: I am having a very hard time trusting Edler after the regular season. I want to see the 2011 Edler. The one that murdered people and played a super game. The Edler that had me thinking "possible Norris candidate" someday. Those days feel long gone, and I don't know if that has anything to do with the back injury or what.
4. Why do you think the Canucks CAN beat the Sharks?
Yankee Canuck: Why? Because I missed the memo which must be going around which says Vancouver doesn't belong in the post season. The last few times it was because the Presidents' Trophy didn't mean anything...now what's the complaint we get? I don't care if Vancouver limps into the series, they have all the talent in the world (plus, yes, the goalies) to drive the chances and get the wins. You toss out the "Hi I'm Ryan Clowe, frequent bed wetter and champion of the 35 PIMs a game" loss in January and the other times these teams have met have been one-goal games. Wins won't come easy for either side, but I have no doubt Vancouver can put the Sharks out of the inevitable misery. Again.
Kent Basky: If the Canucks use their speed against the slower Sharks D, take advantage of matchups that are working and get the kind of goaltending we've seen this year from Cory Schneider, they should be able to pull this off. It's a cliche, but their best players will need to be their best players. Kevin Bieksa and Jason Garrison are 2 guys I look at who could have a real impact, as well as Jannik Hansen. And by god, surely Zack Kassian will show signs of life soon, right?
Missy: The Canucks can beat the Sharks because, overall, we have a top 6 with very high scoring ability, our depth is very strong this year, our defensive core is very tough, and we have 2 goaltenders that can both do the job.
vancitydan: Because they are the team I cheer for. Isn't that enough? Also, because they have a lineup that can play all different ways, and a blue line that scores just a bit more than the Sharks. All the games are close though, so this series could get weird!
nucksandpucks: The powerplay can't stay bad forever, right? The Sedins will pick it up on the PP and Garrison will bring his canon out to play. Schneider (Luongo?) will provide us with better goaltending than Niemi (though I recognize that he had a good season) and we'll pull the series out in 5.
Jordan Clarke: Historically, the teams that have given the Canucks trouble in the playoffs are those with dominant shutdown defensive pairings: Keith-Seabrook, Weber-Suter, Chara-Seidenberg, and Doughty-Mitchell. The Sharks don't have that. When these two teams met in 2011, the Sedins had their best offensive series of the playoffs because the Sharks had no answer for them. With increased offensive support down the middle this year, I don't think the Sharks are capable of fully stifling the Canucks' offense.
Zanstorm: Because if the Canucks can come together as a group and play like a cohesive unit they can beat any team in the NHL. The power play came back online just in time it seems. I like that.
5. On a scale of 1-10 (with 10 being super excellent), rate your chances of the Canucks beating the Sharks and quickly explain why you chose that rating.
Yankee Canuck: 8: because Vancouver can only stomach shitting the bed against one team from California every spring and that will be later on when they lose to Los Angeles. Also relevant: teal isn't a real color and chomping arms as a powerplay rally is straight-up bananapants stupid. Seriously, fuck San Jose.
Kent Basky: 6.66. I believe they can win this in 7 games, but it ain't gonna be easy or pretty. My confidence in this team has waned at times this year as we've seen them play some downright terrible hockey, but with a mostly healthy lineup (healthier than they've been in years you could say) if we see them play like they played against Chicago a couple weeks ago, they can do eet. Maybe.
Missy: To be honest, I'm concerned that this could be a tough series that could easily go either way. I'll put it at a 6 or 7, mainly because of my Canuck bias, but it could easily be smack-dab in the middle at a 5.
vancitydan: 9. Four home games to three home games against the team with the most road losses ( 14 ) of all the playoff teams. Also, I think the special teams are coming on at just the right time on the PP, and the PK has been awesome. No disrespect to the Sharks by having that confidence, but while I do think that Neimi is pretty awesome, so is the guy with slightly higher stats, Cory Schneider. Of all the teams Neimi could face, he probably didn't want the Canucks. Even with going 3-0-0 with a .943 sv % in 3 games this year, his career regular season record vs the Canucks is 6-6-2, with a .910 sv %. That's regular season. Don't even ask him about 2011!
nucksandpucks: 7 - The Sharks are still a good team with a ton of talent on their roster. I think the Canucks are just a bit better in a few key areas, but in the small sample size of a 7-game series those small differences may not be enough to move on to the 2nd Round. Still, I like our chances and think that we are the favourites by a decent margin.
Jordan Clarke: I think I'm comfortably sitting at a 7. The Sharks are a legitimate threat — they were a better puck possession team down the stretch and have deadly special teams. That said, the Canucks were depleted and pretty much locked in to 3rd place for the last handful of games, so I don't take their numbers going in as seriously as I otherwise might. Plus, their special teams have been rounding into form the past 15-20 games.
Zanstorm: 5. Because all season long this team has acted schitzophrenic (sp). Given the range of efforts I have seen from this squad this year, especially from the defence as a group, I honestly don't trust them to be able to "flick the switch" and give that consistent effort. I also think the Sharks look pretty stellar right now. This is going to be a rough and tough back and forth series. Flip a coin, in my opinion.