The Vancouver Canucks were the team to beat in the 2010-11 season and many hockey pundits in the media had picked the team to hoist the Stanley Cup. The Canucks became the bad guys.
Daniel Sedin took repeated punches to the face from Boston Bruins forward Brad Marchand because Marchand "felt like it." Alex Burrows was on his knees when Milan Lucic repeatedly punched him in the back of the head, and remember that time Lucic mugged Burrows behind the net with repeated punches again to the face?
Somehow the Canucks were still the bad guys and they were getting what they deserved for whatever reason.
The Canucks and the Sedins were labelled as divers because they didn't retaliate and bit their tongue playing whistle to whistle while taking abuse in front of the net.
Maxim Lapierre was hated just because he was Maxim Lapierre and not quite the darling Brad Marchand is. Raffi Torres was hated because he laid a perfectly clean check on Brent Seabrook and he played for the Vancouver Canucks.
Somehow the Canucks became a dirty team after this hit.
This was further exemplified by the Aaron Rome hit on Nathan Horton, which earned Rome the longest suspension in Stanley Cup history for a hit that was a few milliseconds late—if it even was.
The Canucks were brash and arrogant, and Roberto Luongo was jeered by the media for making a blunt assessment of Tim Thomas's gaffe on Burrows' Game 2 overtime winner instead of giving the boring cliche response.
It's a new year and the Canucks are no longer the favourites.
For their preseason Stanley Cup picks, TSN's analysts chose the Chicago Blackhawks, Washington Capitals, San Jose Sharks, Pittsburgh Penguins and Philadelphia Flyers. The Blackhawks received the most votes to win the Cup.
However, the Canucks were picked to repeat as the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference.
A simulation conducted by EA Sports' NHL 12 game predicts the Pittsburgh Penguins would defeat the Chicago Blackhawks to capture the Stanley Cup. The Canucks would repeat as the Presidents' Trophy winners, but the Blackhawks would defeat the Canucks in the Western Conference final. Last year, NHL 11's simulation at the beginning of the season predicted a Canucks victory over the Boston Bruins in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals.
Sports Illustrated predicts the Canucks would finish second in the Western Conference behind the Chicago Blackhawks, but like EA Sports predicts a Penguins win over the Blackhawks in the finals.
ESPN had votes for the San Jose Sharks, Pittsburgh Penguins, Philadelphia Flyers, Buffalo Sabres and Chicago Blackhawks to win the Stanley Cup from its analysts. The Sharks and Penguins had the most votes at two apiece.
Over at Sportsnet, there were picks for the San Jose Sharks, New York Rangers, Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Penguins, Detroit Red Wings and Chicago Blackhawks. It was a three-way tie for the most votes between the Sharks, Penguins, and Blackhawks at two each.
The only analyst to predict the Canucks to return to the Stanley Cup finals was John Shannon, but he predicts there would be no Cup in Vancouver for a second consecutive year.
Clearly, the Canucks are not the favourites to win this year. Perhaps the media will construct a more positive image of the Canucks and portray them as the underdog and the good guys this year—from Goliath to David.