The Vancouver Canucks may have been the busiest team at the trade deadline, but they made sure not to blow up a team that currently has them ranked number one in the NHL. In adding some size up the middle in Zack Kassian, the Canucks may not be a better team, but they are a different team, and this addition could help the Canucks win the Western Conference crown for the second consecutive season.
There are several reasons as to why the Canucks will be the Western Conference representatives in the 2012 Stanley Cup Finals, but perhaps none more important than their consistency. Vancouver has the best road record in the NHL at 22-10-4 and they are almost equally as good at home at 18-6-4. The incredible balance the Canucks have to win in any building on any given night gives them a large advantage over their competitors as it eliminates the idea of "Home-Ice Advantage." The fact the Canucks leave very little room for error in their game at all times gives them an edge to represent the West come the Stanley Cup Finals.
In addition to the Canucks terrific consistent play, their depth is a big reason why they will be in the Cup Finals again in 2012. Although the trade of Cody Hodgson took away a scoring third line, the addition of Zack Kassian to the lineup provides more defensive depth for the Canucks, something that is very necessary for a long run in the NHL playoffs.
This depth Canucks may not have drastically changed at the deadline, but it did change in a way that is beneficial to the team in the short term. Having a tougher, grittier lineup has spelled success for several of the recent Stanley Cup Champions and the Canucks are no different now. Head Coach Alain Vigneault likes to be able to call on any of his players at any time of the game to go on the ice and perform regardless of circumstances, and this team is able to do that for him.
Another key to the Vancouver Canucks' success this playoff season will be their unparalleled special teams. The Canucks currently sit 2nd in the NHL with a power play executing at 21.6% and 5th in penalty kill at 86.6%. Though their special teams haven't been stellar as of late, there is no ignoring the prowess the Canucks have both with a man up and a man down. The Canucks seem to thrive in these situations, and though not ideal, when they do fall a man short, they almost always are able to kill the penalty and swing the momentum in their favor, and we all know how much of a momentum driven sport hockey is.
Lastly, the Vancouver Canucks have something in their minds that no other team in the NHL has this year—vengeance. They came within one game of hoisting the Stanley Cup over their heads last year, and after a grueling drive only to fall short, along with the tough start out of the gate this season, the Canucks are out to prove everyone wrong and show why they are the best team in the NHL. The Canucks are out for revenge and will not accept anything less than a return to the Cup Final in 2012.
Obviously the Canucks' number one roadblock in winning the West this year is the Detroit Red Wings, but the Canucks proved when they ended Detroit's NHL record 23 game winning streak at home just over a week ago that they belong in the Finals this year and that not one team they play can beat them down and push them from their path to glory.
John Bain is a Bleacher Report Featured Columnist
Follow him on Twitter: @JohnBainSports