NHL Playoffs 2012: 5 Best Canucks in the First Round

Riley Kufta@@RileyKuftaContributor IIIApril 30, 2012

NHL Playoffs 2012: 5 Best Canucks in the First Round

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    When the Presidents' Trophy-winning team loses to the eighth-seeded team in five games, it's easy to point the finger at who's to blame, to find the goats on the team.  

    What is truly difficult is finding the few players that actually played well. With such a bad team effort, it's hard to identify who those players are, but there are some.  

    The following identifies the five best Canucks in the first-round series against the Los Angeles Kings.  

5. Keith Ballard

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    Since Keith Ballard became a Vancouver Canuck, it hasn't seemed like he's been given much of a chance. Ballard proved himself as a valuable defender in Florida, but he hasn't managed to carry everything over to Vancouver.  

    Despite the much-needed physical presence he brings to the team, Alain Vigneault seems to limit his ice time, wait for a mistake and sit him when it happens.  

    One thing that might earn Ballard some respect from the coach is that he returned from a lengthy absence from a concussion and outplayed most of the team.  

    Ballard made smart defensive decisions, big physical plays and occasionally even looked dangerous in the offensive zone.  

4. Christopher Tanev

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    Once again, we see a Canuck defender capitalize on the poor performances from the rest of the team.  

    This series saw experienced and talented Canuck defenders make critical errors, while Christopher Tanev remained solid.  

    On a team that got vastly outplayed, Tanev's zero points, zero penalty minutes and zero plus/minus in an average of 15 minutes per game earned him recognition.  

    Sometimes keeping your name off the score sheet and the newspapers is a good thing in hockey.  

    Tanev's strong play is deserving of a larger role for the Canucks. Don't be surprised to see Sami Salo's run with Vancouver come to an end as the path opens for the Tanev era.  

3. Henrik Sedin

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    With Daniel Sedin out of the lineup for the majority of the series, we didn't know what to expect from Henrik. While he had his struggles without his brother, Henrik still picked up a point per game in a series where the Canucks had no offense.  

    What made Henrik one of the best Canucks in the series wasn't his offensive contributions, however, but his heart and determination.  

    After receiving a bone-crushing hit from Dustin Brown, it didn't look like we'd be seeing Henrik again. But fit or not to play, Henrik is the captain of this team and without him and Daniel, there was no hope. 

    Henrik not only returned after the hit, but he dominated for the rest of that game and played well for the rest of the series. It's that kind of determination that you want leading your team.  

2. Roberto Luongo

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    Yes, you are reading this right. Roberto Luongo was the second-best Canuck..in the playoffs.  

    While his numbers suggest otherwise, Roberto Luongo was the only thing keeping the Canucks from further embarrassment in the first two games of the series.

    The problem, as it's been all season, is that the Canucks don't play as well in front of Roberto Luongo as they do in front of Cory Schneider.  

1. Cory Schneider

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    Despite a 1-2 record, Cory Schneider was the best player on the Canucks in the series, and his 1.31 GAA and .960 save percentage are tops in both categories league wide.  

    Those numbers with a losing record really highlight this series, as the Canucks left their goalies out to dry. 

    Cory Schneider's performance is not to be forgotten, however, as it appears he's chased Luongo out of Vancouver.