2009 preview: Vancouver Canucks

 The Vancouver Canucks are expected to contend for the division title this year. And with the league’s best goalie, how could they not?

But the Canucks have a tough season ahead of them. The Olympics will be held in the city, there are lots of high expectations so a slow start might lead to a lot of questioning of the team, and they have the worst travel schedule of the season. It’s all going to lead to a tired team.

Story of the season:How will the 2010 Olympics affect the Canucks? The team will have to deal with a lot of extra headaches because of the fact the Games are in Vancouver. That will be mean traffic problems, more people in the city, etc. Plus, they go on a 14-game road trip because of it. So the Sedin twins, for example, go on the road for a few weeks, go back to a busy city to play more hockey, and then go back on another road trip. It’s going to take its toll on players.

Former Habs: Mathieu Schneider

Blog to follow: Canucks Hockey Blog

TV commercial break

Pool Picks:Mathieu Schneider is a powerplay specialist. He struggled for part of last season because he was with the Atlanta Thrashers, but once traded to Montreal, he scored 17 points in 23 games. Expect him to finish with about 55 points. Stay away from:Alex Burrows. He had a good year last year with 51 points, but that might have been an aberration. I expect him to finish more in the 35ish point range.

Award nominees: Mikael Samuelsson for the Lady Byng

Expected Finish: Second in the Northwest, sixth in the West

Cheerleader: This is Chantel Elloway, a model from Vancouver.

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