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Pre-season Prognostications and Predictions

Well, here we go.  Another hockey season is about to start.  Amidst the excitement of another winter chock full of hard hits, great goals, and spectacular saves, we bring you our take on the Canucks upcoming season and what we expect to see in the NHL’s 2009-2010 edition.

Let’s start by looking at the Canucks roster.  Many expected Cody Hodgson to make the team…he hasn’t.  Up until a few weeks ago, not many had even heard of Sergei Shirokov let alone pencilled him in to the opening day roster…yet here he is.  Henkrik has an “A”, newcomer Mikael Samuelsson is expected to give the top 2 lines a boost, and both Pavol Demitra and newcomer Matthieu Schneider will start the season on the IR.

Here is how your humble blogger here at Sporting Vancouver would line up the team if he were  Vancouver Canuck’s head coach Alain Vigneault…which, thankfully, he is not.

D.Sedin      H.Sedin      Shirokov

Many expect Alex Burrows to pick up where he left off last season by continuing his great offensive production on the wing with the twins.  However,  I think he would be more effective on another line and Shirokov has already displayed incredible chemistry with the twins after playing just two games with them.

Bernier     Kesler     Burrows

Yes, re-uniting Burrows and Kesler is the best thing for this team.  This threesome will offer strength in every aspect of the game, causing serious match-up problems for virtually any team they face.  Wether head-to-head with the other teams top-scoring line, or facing a shut-down line themselves, this option will free up the other lines to do some significant damage while doing some themselves.  This line will provide speed, hitting, scoring, as well as good defense.

Raymond     Wellwood     Samuelsson

This line can score a number of different ways.  Wether it be Raymond’s speed, Wellwood’s play-making, or Samuelsson’s shooting.   If this line can develop some chemistry look for them to put up big numbers against the other teams second or third defensive pairings while keeping the puck away from the other team’s first or second line.  Once Demitra comes back I would bump Raymond down to the fourth line and alternate with Hordichuk.

Hordichuk     Johnson     Rypien

What can we say about this line.  A great face-off man  and shot blocker in Ryan Johnson anchored by two of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the league; both of whom love to hit.  This line will provide energy and keep the other teams off balance.  Once Demitra gets back Raymond can platoon in this unit against smaller, faster teams that don’t fight.

Mitchell     Bieksa

Re-uniting these two as the shut-down tandem is just the right thing to do.  Yes, Salo did seem rejuvenated when playing with Mitchell but I think these two together are just a mean piece of business that the other teams’ top lines will dread playing against.

Edler     Ehrhoff

I see these two possessing very similar traits.  Both have size, can skate, can move the, puck, can blast it from the point, and are strong defensively.

Salo     SOB

A puck mover with a stay at home guy.  This unit ensures that no matter which pairing the Canucks have on the ice, they are strong defensively.

Luongo

I think if I were AV I would start Bobby Lu in net…

The Canucks, in my opinion, are icing the most powerful and balanced team since the 1994 team.  Expectations are high in Canuck Nation this year with many prognostciators predicting them to rise above the Flames, Sharks, and Wings and get to the Stanley Cup final.  I am not quite convinced the Canucks will make the final.  I am not saying they can’t or won’t, but the competition in this conference is so steep, that an injury here, or a bounce there is enough to set you back.  I think this is probably the strongest team the Canucks have ever had based on high-end talent and depth.  I predict they will beat out the Flames for the division crown, finish second in the conference, and make it to the conference final.  I think they will face San Jose and that’s as far as I’m going with them for this year.  I think Nabokov when he is hot is good enough to cancel out Luongo’s contribution, Thornton and Heatley will outscore the Sedins, and the experience that Blake and Boyle offer from the back end will finally push the Sharks to the final and probably give them enough to hoist the cup.

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