[Every Monday, Katie Maximick takes your questions and answers them in her own cantankerous style. If you have any questions about the Canucks, send it to her via Twitter (@canucksgirl44)]
In this week’s edition of “Ask Katie about the Canucks”, Katie Maximick responds to your questions on player surprises and lineup changes, and looks ahead to the playoffs. (We know it’s only November, but hey, we’re allowed to get overexcited sometimes.)
Kayli (@KayliDiebel93) asks: Who is your favourite current Canucks player?
Katie: I would have to say, like 90% of Canucks fans right now, Manny Malhotra. He’s a beast. Amazing faceoff statistics, great SHG chances, scoring ability, and veteran leadership. Who wouldn’t love Manny? But I’d still get a new Kesler jersey over a Malhotra – loyalties, after all, lol. Kesler was here first.
Calvin asks: From the opponents we played so far, who would be the toughest first round opponent?
Katie: I think the LA Kings. They’re getting a lot of hype, and for good reason, with Kopitar, Brown, Smyth, Doughty and even our former D-man Willie Mitchell and a pretty good goalie. They’re going to be really dangerous this year, and if Vancouver can avoid them in the playoffs at all cost, the better. Let’s hope that someone else can take them out first before the Canucks have to face them because it’s not going to be easy.
Thomas asks: Do you think Torres can be the Burrows from last year and put up 35-40 goals?
Katie: If he keeps his recent play up, I think so, yes. He plays with a lot of heart, grit and drive, and a lot of Canucks fans are hoping that this will be his consistent style rather than a streak that will burn out or fade away. But wouldn’t it be better to have both Burrows and Torres scoring 30+ goals each this season? Talk about offensive depth. I gotta say, I’m liking Torres killing other teams for once. Nice to have him on our side!
Todd (@Toddske) asks: When Hamhuis returns, who will be bumped? Rome or Alberts?
Katie: Rome, hands down. He seems really slow out there on the ice and has been pretty much invisible. Alberts, on the other hand, has been using his size out there, finishing checks, making big hits and is at least TRYING to stay out of the penalty box so far.
Andrew asks: The West Conference is looking extremely competitive as always with 9 teams within 5 points of each other after approx. 13 games played. What are your thoughts on the Canucks success, and what will be the key factor(s) that will take them into the playoffs?
Katie: Not since the West Coast Express era has the Canucks had this much depth, which is why Vancouver is practically trembling in anticipation to see what this season brings (hopefully a Cup, obviously). I think the potential is there, but it’s been there before and we still don’t have a Cup in this city (aside from the Millionaires). First of all we need to stay healthy, although that’s hard to guarantee. We’re already having issues. Last year our injuries killed us in the playoffs, in addition to Burrows and Kesler playing injured. Second, we need solid goaltending. We’re still waiting to see Luongo at his best, but at least we have consistent and stellar backup goaltending with Cory Schneider. Third, offensive consistency. Vancouver has a few players that tend to disappear during the playoffs (the Sedins are the worst at this, but not quite so bad last playoffs) and others who get taken out by our first issue, injuries.
Steve asks: Taking off from Andrew’s question, I am wondering what strategies during the regular season will help them when they are in the playoffs. Last season they seem to fade as the playoffs progressed, as they did the year before.
Katie: Maybe look to the coach? Don’t sit on leads then have to fight back in the third period as result (typical of AV’s defensive style of play) and use timeouts and your backup goalie when the team is struggling. Don’t keep players out there just to punish them and prove your point. Get them off the ice and give someone else the opportunity to help the team. I hope that if Luongo does blow a tired during the playoffs again, that both Lu and Vigneault will be comfortable and confident enough to put in Schneider to help the team get to that next step. I’m not saying count Lu out, I’m just implying that having Schneider in for a game or two during the playoffs would boost the team’s confidence a bit if Luongo is struggling.
We could always just fire Vigneault and solve most of these problems. Just a suggestion for MG to mull over…