Welcome to the first throwback version of Checking Out the Competition for the season! Many, many years ago, before The Great Pivot To Video of 2k17, Broad Street Hockey used to exchange pre-game questions with our friends at the other SB Nation NHL hockey blogs via e-mail and we’d write all of those words here on this website. And people would read them. It was very quaint. We decided to take it back there for our preview of tonight’s Canucks game with our pal Kent Basky from Nucks Misconduct for fun artistic and nostalgic reasons (definitely NOT because of technical difficulties nope). Here we go:
BSH: The Canucks are sitting in the third spot in the Pacific, right ahead of San Jose and Calgary. How's the overall feeling around the Canucks at this point in the season? You guys happy with how things are going?
Kent: I think the overall mood of Canucks fans right now would have to be cautious optimism, tempered with the feeling that it's all going to fall apart. Since 2011, it's been a pretty harsh downward spiral, and this fan base has been clamoring for change. And with a new coach, and (some) of the youth movement getting their opportunity, we're beginning to see results. That being said, we haven't forgotten what division we're in, and know that an extended losing streak at any point could spell doom. The real question is what's the worst outcome: Missing the playoffs by a couple points, or making the playoffs? Is even moderate success hindering the attempts to rebuild (because they obviously don't have all the pieces yet). There are a lot of things to be happy about, though. Brock Boeser appears to be the real deal, and probably the first legitimate pure goal scorer this team's had since Pavel Bure. The Sedins are playing extremely well in a reduced roll. They're getting good goaltending from Jakob Markstrom and Anders Nilsson. The PP doesn't suck for the first time since 2011. The addition of Derrick Pouliot is starting to look like the Canucks fleeced the Penguins, and even Tomas Vanek's addition in the offseason has been far better than anticipated. But with the loss of Dorsett (more emotional than an actual on ice loss, as it's allowed the Canucks to get Nikolay Goldobin into the lineup) and a potential long term injury to Bo Horvat show that this team could just as easily be battling the Oilers for draft lottery supremacy. Also, screw the Oilers. How on earth can they be given all they have, and still not get it right. They make the case for AHL relegation look reasonable.
BSH: Speaking of the Pacific, the Golden Knights continue to be a thing, which still blows my mind. You guys have played them twice and they've beaten you both times; since you see them more than we do out here, do you think they're the real deal?
KB: I still don't know what to think. I mean, on the one hand, they've done incredibly well at home, and went through that ridiculous stretch of goalie injuries and it didn't stop them. Hell, they took Luca Sbisa and they're still in a playoff spot! But I think we need to stop looking at them as an expansion team, because there's never been an expansion team that was set up to succeed the way Vegas has. Whether you agree with it or not, the NHL changed the rules to ensure this team wasn't going to be like the Washington Capitals in their first season. They had to be a success for their own fans, and not just be a destination for opposing team fans looking for an excuse to go to Vegas. There's a lot of hockey to be played still, and we'll see how it all plays out.
BSH: Back to tonight's game: when we played you guys a few weeks back, it didn't go well for the Flyers. We were midway into our epic losing streak, Brock Boeser was all over the ice, Michal Neuvirth wasn't great for us, and the 'Nucks won 5-2. Is this a game that a Canucks fan is at all worried about?
KB: When you're a Canucks fan, you're worried about every game. They've won 3 in a row, including a win over the Leafs on Hockey Night In Canada, and a shutout against Carolina. A fan of another team might look at this game and think "Here's a great opportunity to go 4 straight". Canucks fans know this could be one of those games where they get embarrassed on home ice. I will say though I am not as fearful about it as I was before the Flyers beat Calgary. And, hey... thanks for that.
BSH: Speaking of, Boeser is the guy I'm most excited about watching when I catch a Canucks game, because he's preeeeeetttttty ridiculous. Any Flyers players you look forward to watching?
KB: I have always enjoyed watching Claude Giroux. Criminally underrated guy. Shane Gostisbehere and Jakub Voracek are fun to watch, as is Wayne Simmonds (would love to see him in a Canucks jersey, honestly). And let's not forget the emotional return of the man we call Dutch Gretzky: Dale Weise. [I am laughing so hard right now —Ed.]
BSH: And finally, you guys are coming off a win over Carolina and a few days off, and the Flyers are on the tail end of a back-to-back out there in Western Canada. What are your overall predictions for this game?
KB: I think it depends on the results of two things: The game against the Oilers and Bo Horvat's MRI. This game has emotional letdown, Canucks style written all over it. Should be fun to watch, as games against the Flyers always are.
Be sure to get your coffee in today, Flyers fans, as tonight’s game doesn’t start until 10PM on the NBC Sports Network on television and on 97.5 on your FM radios. Let’s Go Flyers!