Blogger Nikolay Dudaev, an NHL writer at the Russian sports site Tribuna Sports, was kind enough to ask me (and some other Canucks and Bruins folks) a series of questions on the Boston - Vancouver matchup starting on Wednesday. I was glad to oblige—after all, I figure there’s an outside chance I sound far more brilliantly insightful when translated into Russian, than I do in English. :)
But as for the English, here it is. Alas, not so ‘brilliantly insightful’, but it’s a starting point for my series preview which should be up tomorrow.
1. When it became clear that Vancouver was in the Final how did you feel?
I was excited to see that Vancouver made it to the Stanley Cup Finals, of course, but very nervous, too. Usually the stress is over for Canucks fans by June, since we’re usually drowning our sorrows in beer and writing team eulogies. Not that I’m complaining.
2. What are your feelings and intuition about the final?
I think the final will be a great matchup. Vancouver plays a hard-hitting game and the Bruins are a tough group themselves. Great goaltending on both ends of the ice will probably make it a tight defensive series most of the time, but I’d expect a couple high scoring games, too.
3. Please name 3 strengths and 3 weaknesses of your team?
Strengths of the Canucks: First, the team can get scoring from throughout their lineup, which is great when some players are struggling; Second is depth—the team can reliably roll 4 lines; Third, a great powerplay.
Weaknesses of the Canucks: There can be great lapses in their play… they don’t always play a full 60 minute game; Their defensive coverage breakdowns tend to be epic, frequently ending with a goal in their own net; and finally, when they start taking penalties, they like to take a LOT of them. (It’s like watching a speeding train racing top speed over the side of a cliff when that starts happening.)
4. What do you think will be the most interesting opposition? Between what players?
Honestly, I haven’t thought through the matchups too much yet. But offhand, I imagine Zdeno Chara up against the Sedins might be fun to watch. And I am actually a big fan of Chara, but in this instance, I think the Sedins will create the space they need to deal with him and his defensive mates. Boston has a big, and very effective, defense, but if the Canucks get their fast transition game working for them, that may be their best chance at beating them.
5. What do you think will be the determinant factor for winning the series?
The team that keeps their cool – staying out of the penalty box and defends their end the best – will win the Cup. As mentioned above, I can imagine a scoring-blowout or two, but I suspect that for the most part, this series will be a chess match. And while I’m not a big fan of defensive hockey, I think the emotions and scoring talent on the ice, for both sides, will ultimately make for some fantastic games in the end.
6. What is your prediction for the series?
Seven games, Canucks win. (I can’t bet against them at this point, surely!)
7. What do you think: How many more grey hair will appear on your head?
Grey hairs won’t be a worry… by the time this series is over, I’ll probably have pulled it all completely OUT of my head! :)
My thanks to Nicolay for the questions.