Season Series: 3-1-0
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The Vancouver Canucks will go into the playoffs facing off against the Los Angeles Kings. Last year, they made the abysmal attempt to advance their chances by picking up Mats Sundin late in the season. It failed and this year, they did things the right way with getting back to what Canuck fans know best; stellar play from the Sedin twins, Ryan Kesler and Alex Burrows. And even though everyone expected them to win the weak Northwest divison (Calgary, Edmonton, Minnesota and Colorado), they have in most way exceeded the expectation of many (prime example is Henrik Sedin at the top of the league in points). The other thing that could will a HUGE factor in this years playoffs is that Roberto Luongo can now play with major confidence knowing he has won the big one with Canada at the Vancouver Olympics. The Canucks have a fairly strong defence in front of Luongo with Edler and Ehrhoff as the 1st pairing with a solid 2nd pairing of Bieksa and Salo. Vancouver will be looking to win their 3rd franchise conference championship with previous titles in 1981-82′ and 1993-94′ but unfortunately neither time they were able to capture Lord Stanley and it has haunted fans for what seems like an eternity.
When Vancouver joined the league in 1970, nobody thought that 40 years later, Western-Canadian hockey buffs would be still sitting and waiting for the Stanley Cup to be won be their beloved Canucks. It may not only be British Columbia cheering on the Canucks, as they are the highest Canadian team by points and seed (Ottawa – 94 Pts, Montreal – 88 Pts) and if the Sens and Habs get knocked out early, the entire nation will be backing Vancouver in hopes they can bring the cup to Canada (where it belongs) for the first time since Montreal did it back in 1992-93. Roberto Luongo has won at the highest level, Henrik Sedin has proved he is one of the best players in the NHL and Vancouver needs to now prove they are capable of bringing home the most coveted trophy in all of sport; oh’ Lord Stanley.
The Los Angeles Kings have talent and that is something that can’ t be denied. When you hear the following names; Anze Kopitar, Alexander Frolov, Drew Doughty, Dustin Brown, Jack Johnson Jarret Stoll and Michael Handzus… you think talent. And when you wear the name Ryan Smyth involved in all of it, you know he was brought their to bring this young talented team together and win a Stanley Cup. Offensively, the Kings could actually do it, defensively, the Kings could have a chance but if you have seem any theme here in my previews, you aren’t alone. Goaltending is the absolute biggest advantage (or disadvantage) a team can have in post-season hockey. Jonathan Quick is good, and he has played the majority the Kings games, but by no means can he be considered a great goalie. He can be put in the same category as Jimmy Howard in Detroit or Craig Anderson in Colorado.
Coming from a strong Pacific Division has helped the Kings prepare against some of the best teams in the Western Conference with divisional rivals Phoenix and San Jose and the first-line defensive pairing of Doughty and Johnson is so young that for years to come, the Kings could have the best blue-line in the game. If they hang onto stars like Kopitar and Frolov, you may actually see the Kings not only back in the playoffs but contending for the cup in years to come. The 2009-10 season may be a little early though, and going up against Vancouver Canucks and Roberto Luongo will just show how inexperienced Los Angeles truly is. By no means am I writing off the Kings because when I started the write-up, it began with how talented they are. At they same time, they don’t have an experienced team and most importantly they have a goalie which could ultimately lead to their downfall.
TheCoach’s Pick: CANUCKS in SIX