Season Preview: Vancouver
By Spike Coffman, TheFourthPeriod.com
Vancouver, there's only one thing acceptable to the players, management and
their fans, and that is winning the Stanley Cup. After their devastating loss in
Game 7 in the 2012 Stanley Cup Final, the Canucks ended up running into the Los
Angeles Kings last year in the playoffs. The silver lining with the Canucks is
their core has stayed together creating a dangerous team that still has the
ability to win.
It's the same old cast when it comes to the offense in Vancouver led by
superstars Daniel and Henrik Sedin. There isn't really too much teams can do to
stop the dynamic duo as they continue to put up points. Alex Burrows should
again rejoin the twins and be the final piece on the first line, Burrows hopes
to continue his rise from being a pest, to a solid first line winger. Ryan
Kesler's health is another key factor to the team, but unlike last season the
Canucks should not be in any rush to get him back into the lineup. Even if that
means waiting till the first round of the playoffs it's better for him and the
team in the long run. David Booth and Mason Raymond will have to bring up their
game and add additional scoring to the Canucks line up, as they unachieved last
Defensively, the Canucks added a big bomb that comes with Jason Garrison's shot.
Garrison had 16 goals last season with Brian Campbell feeding him the puck, the
assumption is that Garrison will be just as dangerous with Daniel and Henrik
feeding him passes on the point. Garrison's addition also made the loss of Sami
Salo a bit easier to handle for the Canucks. Dan Hamhuis will still be the
anchor of the defense along with Kevin Bieksa and both are expected put up
points, as well. Maybe the dark-horse of the defense will be Keith Ballard.
Ballard has often fallen out of favor with coach Allain Vingeault and will have
find the ability he had with the Panthers to regain his confidence, as well as
Once the lockout ends, the next big hockey story that will have everyone's
attention will be: What will Vancouver do with Roberto Luongo? It has been
rumored that Luongo will be traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs once the season
resumes, but is there a possibility that Vancouver puts him on this apparent
amnesty clause next season? Even though it is unlikely as the thought of losing
Luongo for nothing is not a popular opinion of GM Mike Gillis. It will be
expected that once Luongo is moved, Cory Schneider will become the cleat-cut No.
1 goaltender in Vancouver. It is a move everyone has seen coming after Vigneault
put Schneider in for Game 3 in the playoffs against Los Angeles. Behind
Schneider will most likely be Eddie Lack, Lack has put up solid numbers in a
little over two plus seasons in the AHL between Manitoba and Chicago.
It's Stanley Cup or bust for the Canucks this season... just like it's been for
the last few years. Losing Ryan Kesler to start the season will be rough, unless
the team trades Roberto Luongo and adds a solid second-line center, but he'll be
missed, regardless. Led by the Sedins, the Canucks are the favorites to take
home top spot in the Northwest Division.
3 Players to Watch
It should not be a challenge for Garrison to adjust to the system in
Vancouver, but it is possible it may take a while. Even if he struggles
defensively, his offensive powerplay numbers will keep him as an important
part of the team. Garrison did finish last season with plus-6.
Kassian will be an interesting story in Vancouver this coming season. With
the shocking trade Cody Hodgson, Vancouver cut ties with the forward to
bring in Kassian, who they believed would be their answer to the Milan
Lucic's of the NHL. Kassian has spent time in Chicago during the lockout and
he should be ready to step right into the lineup when the season begins.
How Schneider will react in his first full season as a starting goaltender
will also be worth watching. The Vancouver media and fans pushed away Luongo
for not being good enough, in their minds. Schneider will have to face this
intense scrutiny now that he's the guy that will be expected to win. If
Vancouver does win the Stanley Cup with Schneider in net, he'd become the
third straight American-collegiate goaltender to lead his team to the