After the Whistle: Who would the Canucks rather play?
Each week hockey columnist Scott Morrison and his protegé, senior hockey writer Tim Wharnsby, exchange (mostly) friendly banter on the latest storylines in the NHL.
1. Of all the Hart Trophy candidates out there who do you favour with two weeks remaining in the regular season, Daniel Sedin, Jonathan Toews or Corey Perry?
MORRISON: I would have to go with Daniel Sedin. Toews brought the Blackhawks back from the dead and Perry has been great even with Getzlaf injured, but Sedin has been terrific all season long. Had he not gotten hurt last year he might have stolen it from brother Henrik.
WHARNSBY: I'll take Daniel Sedin, too, not only because it appears he will keep the Art Ross Trophy in the family, but because he has been consistently a top player on the best team all season long. He is tied with Perry and Ilya Kovalchuk with 10 game-winning goals and the 30-year-old twin already has set career highs with 40 goals and 96 points with six games remaining.
2. What was your favourite story from the past week?
WHARNSBY: University of New Brunswick head coach Gardiner MacDougall did it again. He has been at the helm of the Varsity Reds for a decade now and steered his club to its third national title in five years. The native of Bedeque, P.E.I., not only has produced an outstanding on-ice product, but he makes sure his athletes also perform in the classroom at the Fredericton school. His team beat McGill 4-0 to win the University Cup in front of its own fans at Aitken Centre on Sunday. UNB hosts the 50th University Cup again next March, too. So you can bet MacDougall will have his team ready for a run at back-to-back titles.
MORRISON: I have a tie and both are injury related. Seeing Ray Emery go through what he has endured physically and return to the NHL and play well is a terrific story. On the heels of that, to see Sidney Crosby back working hard and appearing close to at least returning to practice allows for a little sigh of relief.
3. If the playoffs began today, Vancouver would face the Chicago Blackhawks. Probably not Canucks first choice, considering the Stanley Cup champs ousted the Canucks in the past two springs. If the Canucks could hand pick a first-round opponent, which team would they choose?
MORRISON: My first response is: Be careful of what you wish for. The Canucks would never say a word, but I would think the Stars would be a team you wouldn't entirely fear if you met in the first round. Of course, entering Monday night's games they were on the outside looking in. So that would leave me with the injury-riddled Kings, but they would also be a team with no pressure on them.
WHARNSBY: They better hope the Los Angeles Kings experience a late-season slide to fall to eighth. I'd be worried about the physiological barrier of facing the Blackhawks, the hot streak Anaheim has been on and Nashville's outstanding goalie Pekka Rinne. The Kings have had a rough ride with injuries lately with the loss of Justin Williams (shoulder) and Anze Kopitar (ankle) and the latter won't be available until at least the second round.