Vancouver Canucks preview

Vancouver has the best goalie in the league, and they need him with the offence they have.

Besides a few players, there’s no one on this team that is a threat to score every single game. That’s why the team was in the bottom 10 of goals scored for last season. If they could ever get a few players to help take the pressure off, they’d be challenging for the division title.

As it is, they’ll be struggling to make the playoffs.

Forwards: You have to feel a little bad for Pavol Demitra. He went from a team that plays defence first in Minnesota, to a team that can’t score in Vancouver. He could be due for a great season, but it will be tough to get points on this team, unless you play with the Sedins.

Speaking of the Sedins, the twin brothers, Daniel and Henrik, both of them have scored at least 71 points in each of the last three seasons. To find a brother combination this good, you’d have to go back to the 50s and 60s with the Richards or the Hulls. But they can’t do it on their own.

Defence: While the team doesn’t have a puck-moving defenceman, they do have solid defensive defencemen. Mattias Ohlund, Sami Salo and Willie Mitchell are great at blocking shots and clearing rebounds. Their contribution to the team can’t be measured in points, but they’re important nonetheless.

Goaltending: It doesn’t matter if he’s ever won a Stanley Cup, a Vezina trophy or whatever: Roberto Luongo is the best goalie in the league. He has played at least 72 games in each of the last four seasons. He has made teams win that had no business winning. Not including his rookie year, his lowest save percentage has been .914. It’s just too bad he’s always played on teams that have no offence and have to rely on him to bail them out every single night. It’d be fun to watch what he could do if his team could score.

Pool picks: Pavol Demitra will be centring the Sedin twins, so he makes the best pick. There’s no real dark horse on this team, as no one looks ready to break out with a career-year. But if you had to choose one, go for Ryan Kesler. Stay away from: Any of the defencemen. They don’t have a player with that shot from the point. They’ll get points because someone has to, but there won’t be a great player back there.

Miscellaneous: This team could get blown up if they don’t make the playoffs next year. They only have two players signed for more than the next two years, and they only have three year deals left. The Sedin twins are both unrestricted free agents, and will probably want to sign for more money in the offseason. On the bright side, since they want to play together, they can probably be signed for a bit cheaper, but they’ll probably demand at least $5 million each.

Expected finish: Third in the Nothwest division, eighth in the Western conference.

Overall: Vancouver will struggle to make the playoffs, but they will get there, thanks to Roberto Luongo carrying the Canucks on his back. But out of all the teams in the league. Vancouver is in the worst position if the starting goalie goes down with an injury. If Luongo gets injured for any length of time, Vancouver will have trouble staying out of the bottom of the conference.

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