In 2009 and 2010, SB Nation hashed up an interview series between blogs, with an Eastern Conference team paired with a Western Conference team to shed light, educate, and jest around a bit. Raw Charge had been paired up with Winging it in Motown in 2009 and Copper and Blue in 2010.
Despite the uncertainty that's loomed large over the NHL this summer with thanks with the (now imminent) lockout of players by owners, hockey bloggers go on blogging. SB Nation sites dusted off the Summer Fill / Five questions series last month, and blogs that had chosen to participate have been publishing their Q and A collaborations at various points of time the past few weeks on no particular schedule.
This year, Raw Charge had is paired up with the Vancouver Canucks blog Nucks Misconduct. And while the original plan was for a five question-and-answer post on each site, things have morphed into something a little more extravagant - a 12 question Q and A. Over the next four days, Nucks Misconduct and Raw Charge will be featuring questions we posed and the answers that were provided. Today's opening salvo of questions from Raw Charge to our Canuck friendsdeals with the 2011 playoffs, the Western Conference in general, and a Finn named Sami.
Visit Nucks Misconduct to check out some of the questions posed to us and our answers.
Raw Charge: A single goal prevented the Vancouver Canucks from facing the Tampa Bay Lightning in the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals... Pairing hindsight with wishful-thinking, how do you think that series would have played out?
Nucks Misconduct: You would have been swept, there would have been no riot, an entire Province would have been the happiest they could have been since Team Canada tossed aside Team USA in the 2010 Olympics, cancer would have been cured, global economies would have stabilized, One Direction would have mysteriously disappeared, dogs and cats would live happily together and Gary Bettman would have been so pleased with his product he would have fixed this CBA crap with a slap on Donald Fehr's ass coupled with an offering of Candy Corn Oreos.
Tossing my bias aside, it's tough to say. As with Boston, it may come down to the goalie. Dwayne Roloson was playing out of his mind and former Oilers have a way of coming back around to bite Vancouver in the ass. People will continue to wrongly blame Luongo for Vancouver's loss that series, but it was really the offense that dried up once Thomas flipped it into another gear. If Roloson had done the same, then all bets are off. But Boston was deeper offensively and had better pairings in my opinion, so I'd like to believe Vancouver wouldn't need seven games to get past Tampa Bay. But please note delusional thinking is part and parcel of being a Canucks fan.
Raw Charge: Things are up in the air right now regarding the 2012-13 season, but what are the expectations for the Canucks this season? More of the same dominance in the Western Conference?
Nucks Misconduct: Being dominant in the West isn't as "easy" as perhaps it was a few seasons ago. You can see the changes already: Los Angeles and Chicago (as the last two Western Cup winners) are the two biggest threats to a Vancouver threepeat of the #1 seed, but now there's St. Louis and Phoenix right there as well. Points won't come easy against teams like Nashville (unless Weber falls apart without Suter...fingers crossed!) and San Jose whereas Dallas has an interesting blend of talent and Detroit is, well, Detroit.
Eating up points in the Northwest won't be the cakewalk it has been either. Some may puke with excitement at Minnesota after their summer acquisitions, but I'm not sold on them being competitive yet. Edmonton is like a sleeping dragon, so thank god Tambellini is such a bad GM otherwise they'd be a huge headache. But neither team will give up the points easily. Similarly Colorado and Calgary can be tough as nails (especially when their goalies implode...fingers crossed!), but the upside is it'll keep the Canucks battle ready for the playoffs. The last two seasons they've slept walked into the first round and I'd rather see them come in weathered and ready for a long spring.
Overall, the team certainly needs to make the playoffs and challenge for the conference finals again, if not the Cup. Anything less than that will put Vigneault back in the crosshairs and may call into question the current foundation of building around the Sedins (who will have one year left on their current deals before free agency in 2014).
Raw Charge: What has been your analysis of Sami Salo over the past few years? How has Vigneault generally played him and in what roles has he been most successful? Where has he had the most trouble?
Nucks Misconduct: We're big Salo fans. Everyone should be. Who isn't? Point to them. I bet they're from Calgary. Or Boston. You can't trust certain people unfortunately.
Ignoring age and durability, there isn't much to dislike about Salo's resume. Offensively he's the Finnish McInnis, a guy who in nine seasons notched 48 PPGs, making him the highest defensive PPG producer in Vancouver history. If Guy Boucher doesn't have him out there on a 5-on-3 or a 4-on-3, someone smack him. In the defensive zone he was a constant fixture for almost a decade, often times making those around him more responsible and outperforming his more notable peers like Willie Mitchell, Ed Jovanovski or Mattias Ohlund. Lastly, he's a quiet
and low-key guy, a trusted voice in the locker room and in the community.
Hey did I mention he took a Duncan Keith slapper to his testicles and returned to play 48 hours later? Most of us are crying just reading that sentence.
Vigneault used him on the second pairing with Alex Edler in addition to the PP and limited times on the PK. Anytime you need a responsible D man who can offer a strong shot to compliment the forwards, that's where he will shine. Unfortunately I believe his age is why Gillis offered nothing more than a one-year deal before Tampa scooped him up. I can't see him shouldering a top two or top four role anymore, but I suspect with Hedman, Carle, Brewer and Bergeron he won't have to.
tl;dr - Limit his time, let him tee it up and pray the injury gods don't drop a piano on his head. If so you'll be be quite happy with him.
Tomorrow: We'll have a pair of follow ups on Sami and more. See our answers to their questions over at Nucks Misconduct: Chatting Hockey With SBN's Raw Charge, Part I