The Vancouver Canucks are shaping to be contenders this playoffs. We have to take it one game at a time, but this team has more depth then ever before. The playoffs will be the first time that all 6 defenseman on the Canucks have played together all year. Salo missed all of 2010 until after xmas, and bieksa edler, ballard and alberts all went down early in 2011; edler missing the rest of the season until the 81st game. This will be great to see how far the potential for the canucks defense can reach. The pairings will likely be:
When someone gets injured (namely salo), we will have Andrew Alberts to fill in. Andrew Alberts is one of the most improved Canucks this season. Fans got to see very little from him because of his many injuries, but when he did play he was solid defensively and chipped in the occasional offense. I really hope Gillis signs him in the offseason, because we should be able to get him for cheap and he is the perfect player to have in your third pairing.
As for the third line offense, there is a lot of talk that Hodgson will center it. I agree with this notion however I see there being a possibility of Cody going back down to Manitoba once Raffi Torres returns. With Raffi Torres back in the lineup we will likely see a line of
There is a possibility too that Raymond will get to play on the second line, bumping Higgins down to the third line or even out of the lineup if Hodgson stays.
Another thing that has to be factored in is that Mikael Samuelsson has missed a lot of games lately. Not to mention missing practice today for the Canucks. Sameulsson could very likely miss a game or two in the first round.
The fourth line will be Lapierre-Glass-Oreskovich. Thats a very tough and physical line that should be able to intimidate even the Blackwhores.
Brouwer and Bolland are both out for the Blackhawks. Not to mention the loss of Versteeg, Byfuglien, Niemi and Ladd who all played enormous roles in helping chicago beating Vancouver last year. I don't want to be too cocky, but i really do think Canucks will have an easy time with this series. It could go to 6 or 7 games, but Canucks should clearly come out of the series being the better team. There is no way Luongo is going to play as bad as he did against Chicago the past two seasons, and even if he does it should be enough to outplay Cory Crawford.