Saturday, 7 April 2012

Playoff Primer: Vancouver Canucks

Van City
Did not know about the bottom one. On the fence about it...

Vancouver came within three periods of lifting the cup last season. They had more skill than essentially rest of the league. Unfortunately, they ran into a wall. A very physical wall that broke them in half. And had a highly unorthodox style of goaltending.

The Goods
Henrik Sedin! Ryan Kesler! The scoring ability on this team is ridiculous. Seriously, it's disturbing. The twins operate on another level, then they send out their second line and then they send out their fourth line against your top line, and they're the best shutdown line in hockey. This forward corps is likely the best in the West. They've also got depth in large amounts with the acquisition of Pahlsson.

They realized the twins got ran by Lucic and Bergeron (Bergeron! Running people!), so they went and got Zach Kassian. Boom. They'll float like a butterfly, and then sting like a 4 by 4.

Also, the defence and the goaltending hasn't changed from their stature last year - it's either better or at the same level of excellence it was in the Cup Run.

The Bads
The pieces have gotten a little better... but is this team any different, or any better, than it was last year? The major difference through the season was three bonafide scoring lines, with Sedin, Kesler and Hodgson, but Vancouver clearly believes it was the lack of physical toughness, not the lack of scoring, that beat them in Boston last year (it was neither - it was Thomas outplaying Luongo) and traded Hodgson, who some people saw as the next Linden, for Kassian, whom the jury is still out on.

Schneider's gotten better. Luongo's still Luongo. The defence is healthier - but Daniel Sedin, half of the twin dynamos, isn't. That's very very bad.

They win the Cup if...
Daniel Sedin returns heroically in at least the second round, if not the first, and puts up staggering numbers alongside Henrik Sedin again. Luongo/Schneider need to bring their best, especially against Boston, Pittsburgh and Philly, if they make it out of the West.
All in all, this team should beat everyone in the West - on paper, it's got the elements to do it. The question remains if they will.

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