We Have The Best

June 19, 2011

It has been 5 years since ex Canuck GM, Dave Nonis brought in Roberto Luongo on the sunny day of June 23, 2006. It is arguably the biggest trade in Canuck history (at least that went well). Looking back at the innocent, yet promising 27 year old, who would ever think that he bring so much success to the Canuck organization but blamed in the media for every disappointment. On that day in June,the Vancouver Canucks knew they had the best.  

Since arriving in Vancouver, all Roberto has faced is the question: is he the best? Luongo has continued to prove all of his doubters wrong through his play. Who could forget his first year in Vancouver where he out duelled Marty Turco in a shooters nightmare in the first round of the 2007 Stanley Cup playoffs? Since that marvellous first season, Bobby-Luo has never gone higher than a 2.57 goals against average or lower then a .913 save percentage. Every year Luongo blanks his opponent at least 4 times a year. Let’s not forget to mention he has lead his team to the promised land 4 out of the 5 seasons. The most recent playoffs, Roberto carried his Canucks past 3 difficult oppositions, until they stumbled 1 game short in the finals. The stats speak for themselves, he is the best.

Roberto Luongo not only has the numbers to back his play up, but he has earned praise around hockey with countless awards and honours. In the years we have the dreadful all-star game, our own Canuck puck stopper has been invited every season. In 2007, Roberto won the Mark Messier Leadership Award, the highest honour a leader can get. Hockey Canada has invited him to the 2006 and 2010 Olympic winter games, where the Vancouver 2010 tournament ended with Luongo waving the golden Canadian flag as the crowd chanted LLLLLUUUUOOOOO! This past season we saw Luongo posting career best numbers earning him his third Vezina nomination and securing the Jennings for having the fewest goals against in the NHL. It seems like the awards are on an unstoppable rate for the best goalie in the NHL.

The anti-Luongo movement is poorly supported with arguments from fans and media in Vancouver and around the NHL.  At first, most questioned his ability to play in the playoffs, and then he played his first series in the 2006 playoffs and shut down that genius idea. Next the fans and media wondered if he could win the big game. The 2010 Olympics’ came around and Roberto became a hero to our great nation. Running out of feeble points, Luongo haters came up with the Blackhawk theory, saying that the Canucks led by Luongo can never make it past the Hawks. Well, Luongo took the Hawks to a game 7 this year, where he shut the door until gritty Alex Burrows sniped the puck past Crawford. Now the strongest case against Roberto is him not having a cup ring. These people forget that many greats don’t get to kiss that silver hardware until late in their career, as in Bourque, Yzerman, and Brind’Amour. There are many that won’t even get a chance;  Iginla, Dionne, and Hawerchuk. The book is still out on Roberto Luongo, but he has already been to the finals once and is part of an excellent core group of players in Vancouver that will be a serious threat for Lord Stanley over the next five years. Roberto continues to prove all of his doubters wrong, showing his ability to be the best.

There isn’t a goalie I would rather have lace up for my team than Roberto Luongo. If I was to build a team around a goaltender, then I would take him in a heartbeat. Year after year, Luongo is constantly putting up hall of fame numbers. Looking around the NHL, we as Canuck fans are lucky. Thomas was a backup last year to Rask;  Brodeur is on a steep decline;  Kipprusoff isn’t looking the same anymore; Price is now into his first year as a true number one; and Miller’s stats are good but not quite Luongo-like. The Vancouver media and fans should realise how blessed we are to have a goalie of this stature, especially considering the goalie graveyard we used to have. Let’s sit back and enjoy all that we have until it is gone. Roberto Luongo is the best.


Stanley Cup Predictions- Round 1

April 13, 2011

The Hawks brought home Lord Stanley last year. Who will raise the Stanley Cup this year?

Washington Capitals(1) vs. New York Rangers(8)

I really like the Caps odds in this one. The Rangers, I feel, are the weakest team in the playoffs. Losing Ryan Callahan, the Rangers are looking pretty thin up front. The only way the Rangers can hang in this series is if Henrik Lundqvist can steal the show the way Jaroslav Halak did last year. Washington learned their lesson last year losing to a 8th seed and won’t let it happen this year. My verdict is the Capitals have too much depth and fire power, as I could easily see Ovie’s team sweep New York.

Capitals in 4

Philadelphia Flyers(2) vs. Buffalo Sabres(7)

Here’s where the Eastern Conference gets interesting. The Flyers went 3-7 in their last 10 games to close out the regular season and there was fingers pointing everywhere. The stumbling Flyers come into the playoffs with high expectations. They are deep at every position but net. That is the biggest question mark to me. If Philly can find their starting goalie early, I believe they can make a straight march to the finals. Buffalo can be a scary team to play against as they have one of the best goalies in the game, Ryan Miller. Last year we saw Miller lead a weak USA team all the way to the Olympic gold finals, so watch out for the Sabres netminder. At the end of the day I believe the Flyers can overpower the Sabres with their depth.

Flyers in 6

Boston Bruins(3) vs. Montreal Canadians(6)

This series will be determined by who can execute their game plan. If the big, bad Bruins can make it a physical series, the smaller Canadians have no chance. Lucic, Horton, and Krejci will all be leaned on heavily up front to push around the Habs. Also the Bruins need to figure out their power play if they want to make it anywhere in the playoffs. However, if the Habs can play their game and get some hot goaltending from Carey Price, we all know how deadly they can be. Finally, the Canadians low scoring team needs to get their offence revved up or the Habs post-season could end quickly. This rivalry has the means to go all the way to game 7 I think.

Bruins in 7

Pittsburgh Penguins(4) vs. Tampa Bay Lightning(5)

The Crosby show? The second half of the year I have questioned the Pens ability to win without Crosby, Malkin, and other banged up forwards, but time and time again they prove me wrong. Head coach, Dan Bylsma has done an awesome job at getting his team to win hockey games. Meanwhile Tampa has surprised everyone for even making the playoffs this year. I think it will come down to the will to win and the Fluery vs. Rolson goaltending match-up. Pens win in both categories and so I believe Pittsburgh have the upper hand.

Penguins in 6

Vancouver Canucks(1) vs. Chicago Blackhawks(8)

Ah, the heated rivalry between the Nucks and Hawks. I think the rivalry is all but gone. Ladd, Versteeg, Burish, Byfuglien, Eager, Sopel, and Neimi are all gone from the Hawks line-up leaving the team weak in depth, which was the very thing that made them win last year.  The Canucks on the other hand have been on a mission to forget the last two playoff exits against the Blackhawks and GM Mike Gillis has done an amazing job at increasing the overall depth of the Canucks over the off season. Vancouver leads the league in almost every category this past season and look unstoppable going into the playoffs. I’ll take the Nucks any day.

Canucks in 5

San Jose Sharks(2) vs. Los Angeles Kings(7)

Is this the Sharks year? San Jose has been on fire since the All-Star game while the Kings have looked mediocre. The Sharks have 3 sick offensive lines containing Thornton, Heatly, Marleau, Clowe, Pavelski, Setoguchi, and Couture. Also Niemi has looked unbeatable since the Shark turn around, but the defence worries me. The only name that stands out on defence is Dan Boyle, other than Dan the Sharks have look weak on the back end. The Kings have been hurting since losing Anze Kopitar and I think they have no shot at making any significant gains in the playoffs.

Sharks in 4

Detroit Red Wings(3) vs. Phoenix Coyotes(6)

The Red Wings once again in the playoffs. This organization has figured it out. The ageing Wings aren’t the favourite they normally are but don’t count them out. Mike Babcock always gets the most out of his team for the playoffs. Goaltender, Jimmy Howard looks better and better every game I watch him play and I think he could be the X-factor for the Red Wings if they want to make it anywhere this year. Meanwhile, the Yotes rely heavily on their goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov to win them hockey games. If the Coyotes can get timely goals and have Ilya play his best, the Wings could exit the playoffs earlier then they want to. I think in the end Detroit’s experience will win them the series.

Red Wings in 6

 

Anaheim Ducks(4) vs. Nashville Predators(5)

The Duck offence has been unreal this year with Perry, Ryan, and Getzlaf leading the way, not to mention strong secoundary scoring coming from Selenne, Koivu, and Blake. Also the goaltending has been solid all year for the Ducks whether it has been Hiller, Emery, or Ellis. The one weak point for Anaheim is there depth on D. Young players like Sbisa and Fowler will have to step it up if the Ducks want to make a playoff run. But I think Nashville is a scary team to play in round 1. Coach, Berry Tortz has perfected a defensive system that even with average player, the Preds find a way to make it to the playoffs. The thing that separates this year’s Nashville team to last year’s, is the goaltending. Rinne has flourished this season and doesn’t show signs of stopping. I think Nashville’s system and group of players has the chance of getting them a long way in the playoffs.

Predators in 7


Trade Deadline 2011- Was Friday the Deadline?

February 20, 2011

I did not know that the NHL trade deadline was moved up to February 18th. Yesterday, we saw a flurry of deals and big names like Tomas Kaberle, Erik Johnson, Eric Brewer, Ian White, and more all on the move. I am going to break down the deals and give my winners and losers.

Kaberle suiting up for his first game as a Bruin friday night

TO BOSTON: Tomas Kaberle

TO TORONTO: Joe Colborne, BOS 1st rounder (2011), and conditional 2nd rounder (2012)

After years of speculation Kaberle has finally been moved. The second all time scoring defenseman in Leafs history played his first game with Boston last night donning number 12. Kaberle has 3 goals and 28 points with a minus 2 rating as a bud this season. In exchange the Leafs acquire Boston’s 2008, first round pick (16th overall) Joe Colborne. Colborne has played the past season with the Providence Bruins recording 26 points in 55 games. Joe has towering size at 6’5 at jsut 21 years of age and has the potential to be a first line power forward in the NHL. Toronto also gets Boston’s 2011 first round pick this year and a conditional 2012 second rounder (please note: the 2011 first round pick is not Toronto’s pick that they originally trade to Boston for Phil Kessel). The conditional 2012 second round pick is if the Bruins make it to the Stanley Cup finals or if Tomas Kaberle re-signs with Boston.

Winner: I love what Brian Burke has done here. As much as he has f’ed up Leafland time and time again, it seems as though he finally understands what it means to rebuild a hockey club. I wasn’t a huge fan of the Versteeg deal, the Beacheman trade only had minimal gains, but trading away Kaberle was a solid move. Kaberle is a pending UFA and doesn’t fit into Burkes long term plans. The Leafs milked all they could out of Boston GM,Peter Charelli. But at the end of the day, the Bruins got the better player in the deal and still hold Toronto’s 2011 first rounder.

 

TO COLORADO:  E. Johnson, J. McClement, and a conditional 1st rounder

TO ST. LOUIS: C. Stewart, K. Shattenkirk, and a conditional 2nd rounder

I think this trade caught everyone off guard. I don’t think anyone could have predicted this deal. Both the Aves and the Blues were involved in multiple trades Friday including this deal. Erik Johnson who was drafted 1st overall by the Blues in 2006 was thought to be the cornerstone of the franchise. He and Jay McCelment will be donning the Avalanche uniforms for the first time alongside Brian Elliot, who also was acquired by Colorado friday. On the other side of the transaction, Chris Stewart was the major piece. Stewart, like Johnson, was drafted in 2006 and just broke out in last year into a bonafide top six forward. He scored 28 times last year in 77 games and has lit the lamp 13 times this year in just 36 games. Kevin Shattenkirk was the other part of the package heading off to the city of Blues. Shattenkirk is just 22 years old and already played 46 games this year in his rookie season.

Winner: I think Colorado won this deal. As much as it is tough giving up Stewart and Shattenkirk, Johnson is a player they can build there blueline around. Duchene, Johnson, Stastny, and O’Reilly are a solid young core to build around for the future. Not to mention the get another first round pick this year (unless it is a top ten pick then it is in 2012).

TO TAMPA BAY: Eric Brewer

TO ST. LOUIS: Brock Beukeboom and a third round pick (2011)

St. Louis GM, Doug Armstrong’s phones were ringing constantly on friday. Armstrong traded Brewer to T-Bay, as yet another defensemen was on the move. Brewer, who was the captain of the Blues, has played some of his best hockey as of late. Eric is a pending UFA and was expected to get moved. Tampa Bay is weak on the back end and Brewer could help them out tremendously for a playoff bid. Brock Beukeboom was a 3rd round pick of the Bolts in the 2010 entry draft and is a solid defensive d-man.

Winner: Tampa Bay won this deal. They essentially gave up nothing to loan Brewer for the rest of the year and have a chance to re-sign him. I really like what Steve Yzerman is doing with the Lightning. The Bolts are heading in the right direction.

Ian White will join his third team this year, as he is now a member of the Sharks

TO SAN JOSE: Ian White

TO CAROLINA: SJ second round pick (2011)

The defenseman dominos kept falling as White was dealt from the Hurricanes out west to San Jose. This is a great move for the Sharks. SJ Sharks are extremely weak on the back end and could use all the help they could get. White is now going to play on his third team this year as he heads out west. Ian White started the season with the Flames when was dealt alongside Brett Sutter by D’utter to Carolina for Tom Kostopoulus and Anton Babchuk. As Carolina is struggling to make the playoffs, they dealt away Ian White who is set to become a UFA at the end of the year.

Winner: I think it was smart of the Hurricanes to deal away White for something rather then lose him on July the first. They were able squeak out a second round from San Jose. Ultimately SJ Sharks won this deal. The Sharks need help on the blue line and White will help out the situation.

Other deals around the NHL had Boston sending Blake Wheeler and Mark Stuart to Atlanta, while Rich Peverley and Boris Valabik were sent to Beantown. Craig Anderson was sent out east to Ottawa for Brian Elliot. Finally Derek Joslin was sent from San Jose to Carolina for future considerations (not related to the White deal).


Petersen’s 2011 Stanley Cup Prediction

October 7, 2010

There has been a ton of hype over the last few days from hockey fans and media on the 2011 NHL season just days away. I have seen too many preview shows and read too many analysis’s predictions, so I decided to post who I think is the favourite to win it all. First I checked to see who other NHL experts picked to win it all:

  • NHL.com predicted the Detroit Red Wings to defeat the Washington Capitals in the Stanley Cup Finals
  • The Hockey News looked into their crystal ball and saw Henrik Sedin and the Vancouver Canucks lifting Lord Stanley
  • Hockey nut, Pierre McGuire said that the Detroit Red Wings will win another Stanley Cup over the Pittsburgh Penguins
  • James Duthie predicted John Toews to once again lift the Stanley Cup, beating out Philly once again
  • Sportsnet analysis’s Darren Millard and Mike Brophy both picked the Washington to win it all, meanwhile Doug Mclean picked the Nucks and Nick Kypreos picked Pittsburgh

So with all the rumours and speculation from around the league, I have picked the Vancouver Canucks to win it all. Yes the Vancouver Canucks. On paper Mike Gillis and the Canuck management has put together the best team in the league.

But why the Canucks? : It has been 40 years since the Vancouver Canucks have entered the National Hockey League and through those 40 years the Canucks have been cup-less. The city is desperate for a winner. Well Vancouver finally has a team. The Sedin’s have ripped apart other teams defence and have given goalies a sore neck from looking in the back of the net. Luongo is one of the best goalies in the league and has backstopped team Canada in the 2010 Olympics that won the gold medal. Luongo has come into training camp determined to win and shredded some pounds for easier side to side movement. Dan Hamhuis and Keith Ballard were brought in this offseason adding onto a defence core that already contains Elder, Ehrhoff, Bieksa, and Salo. Gillis did an amazing job at improving the blueline without giving up too many picks and prospects. Also the depth up front is strong. Burrows, Samuelsson, Kesler, Raymond, and Torres all can provide secondary scoring for the Sedin twins.

The thing that gives me the most hope is that Vancouver has been knocked out of the playoffs for two straight seasons and underachieved both years, and the team has taken it personally. The Canucks were pissed off for being knocked out of post-season play in the second round against the ‘Hawks. Vancouver is now on a mission to prove to the rest of the league and themselves that they can win in the playoffs. Luongo lead by example by gave up his captaincy and has focus on improving all offseason, not taking the recent failures lightly. With all the adversity, I believe has brought the team together and made them even stronger building up to this year. Things are starting to fall in place for the Canucks and it is a do or die year for the Nuckleheads.

It was a tough decision for me to pick the Canucks, as I think that the Penguins are a threat to take home the Stanley Cup. We all know how good the Penguins offence is, improving defence, and Flower is bound to play better this season. Crosby and Penguins are a close second in my books.

It is early to pick anyone to win the Stanley Cup and a lot can change between now and June. Let’s sit back and have fun seeing on how things will play out.


O’Brien is done in Vancouver

October 6, 2010

Shane O'Brien is now going to have to revive his career around in Nashville

Earlier today the Vancouver Canucks made a deal with the Nashville Predators, shipping Shane O’Brien and Dan Gendur to Nashville in exchange for Ryan Parent and Jonas Andersson.

Shane O’Brien, the big piece in the deal, spent the last two years with the Canucks putting up 2 goals, 18 points, and 275 PIM’s in just 141 games.

Shane O’Brien had been on thin ice in Vancouver for the past few years. I don’t think Shane ever got out of Alain Vigneault’s doghouse. Last season, O’Brien actually got suspended three games by Alain for showing up after the Olympic break out of shape, gained weight, and showed up late to a practice. Alain had constantly been harping on OB to fight more, openly in the media. Also O’Brien has been seen multiple times in Vancouver partying it up with locals. Not the image the Canucks really want. To top it all off Shane got into a heated discussion with assistant coach Ryan Walter in between whistle on the bench. All Canuck fans new the OB would get traded from the Canucks, it was where.

Despite all the problems, O’Brien was mainly moved because the Canucks were tight for a buck and needed cap room. Shane was waived October 2nd by the Canucks, along with Darcy Hordichuk, because of cap problems. O’Brien is set to make 1.6 million this year, in the last season of his contract.

Ryan Parent was the defenseman heading the other way in the deal. Parent is just 23 and has already spent 102 games in the NHL. He has got 1 goal, 7 points, and 36 PIM’s in his short NHL career. Parent was drafted by the Philadelphia Flyers 18th overall in 2005. Parent has won 2 gold medals at the WJC  with Canada in both 2005 and 2006. In 2005 at the WJC, Parent played with Luc Bourdon (2005 Canuck draft pick) and it was in Vancouver, so Canuck fans have seen this guy play, but not knowing he would be a Canuck one day.

Parent has a nice upside to his game and is still just a kid. Ryan is a smooth and steady defenceman who isn’t afraid to get physical. He is a solid penalty killer and great in his own end. Ryan still needs to fill out his big frame and learn to shut down NHL forwards.

It was an ironic story this offseason for Parent. He started off with the Flyers, and then was moved to Nashville in exchange for the rights for Dan Hamhuis. Hamhuis was later traded again to Pittsburgh, but signed as a free agent with the Vancouver Canucks. Ryan Parent, the guy who was traded for Hamhuis, ended up on the same team as Dan Hamhuis.

The add-ons in the deal were Dan Gendur and Jonas Andersson. Gendur, who was shipped off to Nashville, is 23 years old and has spent most of his time in the ECHL, struggling to make in the AHL. Andersson was originally drafted by 33rd overall by the Predators in 1999. Andersson has spent most of his time in Europe, but has played 5 games in the NHL back in 2001-2002 season.


Top Ten Canuck Prospects

October 4, 2010

During the summer I wrote who I believe are the top ten Canuck prospects. Cody Hodgson is cleary the prized gem of the Canucks system, but also contains Schnieder, Scheoder, and Shirokov. Mike Gillis and the Canucks scouting staff have done an excellent job with drafting young talent, now it is developing there kids and getting the most out of there prospects.

How will Cody fit into the Canuck plans and can we see him suite up for the Canucks this year?

1.  Cody Hodgson C (10th in 08)

Cody is no doubt the Canucks best prospect and is one of the elite prospects around the NHL. Hodgson missed most of last year with a back injury and has Canuck fans wondering, but has an excellent shot at making the Nuckleheads this fall. He is one of many small but high end talent prospects in the Canucks system. In juniors Cody has shown great leadership, smooth hands, good on special teams, and is smart in all three zones. Potential first liner.

2. Cory Schnieder G (26th in 05)

Cory has been waiting for the opportunity to play with the Canucks and heading into training camp Schnieder has an excellent shot at the #2 job. Cory has played with the Moose for past couple of years and has been a headache for many shooters. Cory Schnieder will no doubt start in the NHL but the question is, will it be with the Canucks?

3 Jordan Schroeder C (22nd in 09)

Schroeder is the most skilled Canuck prospect. While Jordan is only 5’9/180, he makes up for it with his smarts, enthusiasm, and quick feet. Watching him play a few games this year with the Moose was a thrill. He was great offensively and showed a lot of positives on the ice. I don’t think Jordan will be able to crack the lineup this year with the strong forward depth, but you might see this kid making a big impact with the Canucks a few years down the road.

4. Anton Rodin RW (53rd in 08)

Mike Gillis said the Canucks stole Rodin in the draft 3 years ago., and couldn’t believe that he wasn’t picked in the first round. Canuck fans were happy to hear this but had no clue how he was, well they found out at this year’s WJC.  Playing for team Sweden at the WJC, Rodin racked up the points 10 points in 6 games, including 2 game winners. Rodin has a strong shot, good stick handling, not afraid to use the body, and awesome hockey sence. Anton is small at 5’11 and could add some more muscle before he makes the NHL. Will likely fit in on the 2nd or 3rd line in the NHL in the future.

5.Sergei Shirokov LW (136th in 06)

Last year Sergei had an amazing training camp and made the Canucks roster straight out of training camp, getting the fans eager to see how there Russian  prospect would do. Well Shirkov had a rough start and ended up playing with the Moose. Sergei had a pretty good rookie pro year with the Moose, posting 22 goals, 23 assists, and 45 points in 76 games. Shirokov has great vision and finishing capability, which potentially could be a solid NHL scorer. With Grabner gone (trade this offseason with Florida), it opens up for this Russian sniper to squeeze into a NHL spot this year or next year.

6. Kevin Connauton D (83rd in 09)

This year Kevin made the jump from University hockey, to the WHL. He played for the Giants and impressed Canuck fans with 24 goals and 72 points in just 69 games. Connauton is an offensive defenseman, that can move the puck. His strong point is controlling the power play and let go of his cannon. Kevin is the Canucks best prospect on defence, which improves his odds of stepping in one day. Expect Connauton to make the NHL jump in two or three years.

7. Evan Oberg D (Signed in 09)

Oberg had a strong season last year and rose on my list of top prospects as the year went on. Oberg fit into the Manitoba Moose’s lineup and played some good hockey. Evan is a offensive defenseman, who has great offensive instincts. Oberg struggles shutting down bigger forwards and can get pushed around in physical games. Evan has a good shot at making the team next year, as the Canucks have 8 NHL defenseman on there roster heading into training camp.

8. Yann Sauve D (41st in 08)

Yann played in the QMJHL this year with the Saint John Sea Dogs, and had a stellar +42 (yes you read that right, 42!). Sauve is a big, mean defenseman that you would want to keep your head up going into the corner with him. At 6’3, 209, he is built to be a solid defensive defenseman in the NHL.  Yann will most likely step into the NHL in two to three years from now into a depth defence role. If all goes well for Sauve he could find himself on the 2nd or 3rd defence pairing.

9. Patrick McNally D (115th in 10)

Patrick was the Canucks first pick in this year’s draft. McNally played for the Milton Academy in Massachusetts this year. He recorded 35 points in 28 games and was named to the All New England First Team. Patrick has already committed to Harvard University in 2011. McNally is a bright kid who possesses the skill that Canuck GM Mike Gillis couldn’t pass up on. Don’t expect this offensive blueliner to step into a Canuck uniform for another 4-5 years.

10. Taylor Ellington D (33rd in 07)

Taylor played his first full pro season last year. He split time between Manitoba and Victoria. The rookie struggled posting -3 in 16 games with Manitoba and -13 with Victoria. Taylor is a steady, reliable defenseman, who doesn’t shy away from physical play. He projects to be a 2nd or 3rd defensive line pairing in the NHL, playing the role of a defensive defenseman. Ellington will spend a few more years in the minors before he is ready for NHL action.


Petersen NHL Preview – Vancouver Canucks

October 3, 2010

Can Hank have build off of last years success?

After a year of many positives for Canuck fans, the season ended with fans scratching there heads wondering what went wrong. The Sedin’s had a monster year with the Nuckleheads, ending with Henrik winning the Art Ross and the Hart Trophies. Alexander Burrows had a nice 2010 campaign, leading the Canucks in goals with 35. Kesler, Raymond, Samuelsson, and Erhoff all had solid offensive numbers last season. It surprised everyone when the Canucks finished a top of the league with goal scoring, coming from a defence first hockey team. Luongo had a good season in net, but wasn’t himself. By the time the playoffs rolled around it caught up to Luongo. Once again the Canucks lost in the second round to the Chicago Blackhawks. Another factor for the second round exit was the Canucks defence looked bad against the high flying ‘Hawks offence. Mitchell missed the playoffs due to a hit from behind by Evgeni Malkin and it showed on Vancouver’s blue line.

With the offseason additions by Mike Gillis, the expectations are weighing on the club. Many fans are all ready saying, “this year is the year”.

Last Season: 49-28-5, 103 points, 3rd in the Western Conference

Incoming: Dan Hamhuis, Keith Ballard, Manny Malhotra, Raffi Torres, Jeff Tambellini, Victor Oreskovich, Joel Perrault

Outgoing: Michael Grabner, Steve Bernier, Pavol Demitra, Willie Mitchell, Kyle Wellsood, Andrew Raycroft

Reason For Hope: The city is buzzing about the Vancouver Canucks and there chance to make a run at Lord Stanley. The Canucks are pegged by many experts to win the Stanley Cup. Vancouver was close last year, but after a few offseason pickups, adding depth to the blueline and grit to the bottom six forwards, the Canucks have the best team in the league on paper. UFA singing, Dan Hamhuis was thrilled to sign with Vancouver on July the 1st. He returns to his home province and comes to a team that has a shot at winning something. Hamhuis will play top 4 minutes on defence and has high expectations. The other UFA signed by Mike Gillis was Manny Malhotra who is expected to eat up minutes on the third line and help out a struggling PK unit. Keith Ballard was traded to Vancouver before the trade deadline for Grabner, Bernier, and the Canucks first rounder. Ballard will add both depth and a physical presence on the ‘Nucks defence. Mike Gillis has made sure this offseason to pick up as much depth as he can. But, the main reason for all the optimism around this Canuck team is Henrik Sedin coming off a career best year winning the Hart and Art Ross trophies. Fans are excited about Henirks follow-up year and to see what he has in store. Also anytime you have Luongo in net there is a chance to go far. He has come to training camp this year shredding a few pounds (will hopefully help out his side to side movement) and a chip on his shoulder, Luongo is a determined man. With a core of the Sedins, Luongo, Burrows, Kesler, Raymond, Hamhuis, Edler, and Ehrhoff, what’s not to like about this Canuck team?

 

This is Roberto Luongo's team and how he plays will dictate the outcome of the season

What Could Go Wrong? : For the past 40 years, the Canucks have been in the league and have never won a cup. As a religious Canuck fan, it seems the Canucks just find a way to lose when it counts. The last couple of season’s the Canucks have been cup contenders but have collapsed under pressure. It worries me that the same will happen this year. Luongo has looked shaky his last few post-season appearances and is hoping to forget the past and have a great 2011 playoffs. This is Roberto Luongo’s team and how he plays in the playoffs is how the rest of the team will play. Also I know it’s only preseason, but Keith Ballard hasn’t look like anything special and if making the Canucks was based on how he played, he would be starting the year with the Moose. Kevin Bieksa has been in a slow and steady decline over the past few years, which really worries me. Vigneault’s headache, Shane O’Brien was placed on waivers on Saturday and isn’t likely to wear a Canuck uniform this season. Finally Salo is expected to miss a big chunk of the season coming off surgery from a torn Achilles tendon. With all these factors the Canucks blue line isn’t as deep as we thought it was.

Prediction: 1st-3rd in the Western Conference


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