Depending on perspective, the Vancouver Canucks have either been the most fun team to watch this season or the most stressful .The Canucks have had few wins in the latter half of this season that weren’t both hair-raising and dramatic, and this has led to two polarizing schools of thought when it comes to gauging the potential of this team.
On the one hand, the Canucks have allowed many teams this season to expose their vulnerabilities on defense, and especially so early in games. In these instances, Vancouver has looked like a team that is fatally flawed, and unable to sustain any kind of long-term success. On the other hand though, the Canucks have been the team in the latter half of this season that has been impossible to put away—no lead has been safe against these ‘comeback kids’. In these instances, the Canucks have looked incredibly difficult to shut down, and also like a team that has all the firepower and goaltending it needs to contend for the Stanley Cup.
While the Canucks have been straddling between these two extremes of being both a flawed team and a legitimate contender, the public support for this team has steadily increased, and especially so among the betting masses. When it comes to this series, many have looked at the goaltending advantage that the Canucks have with Roberto Luongo over Antti Niemi, and many have also pointed to the Canucks’ depth up front, and their red-hot top line of Sedin-Sedin-Samuelsson, as reasons why the Canucks will prevail in this series.
In contrast though, the highly-publicized battle of Dustin Byfuglien vs. Roberto Luongo has barely swayed the betting public at all, and this could seemingly be a big mistake. Vancouver had no answer for the traffic in front of the net that the big forward/defenseman provided in last year’s playoffs, and the addition of Andrew Alberts to the Canucks’ blue-line doesn’t seem to solve the problem at all. Meanwhile, Brent Seabrook and Duncan Keith have developed into elite-level NHL defensemen, and it is the Blackhawks who truly appear to have the right group of blue-liners to really dictate the flow of this series.
Both of these teams have improved in the one year since they last met in the playoffs, but it doesn’t appear that the Canucks have really leapt ahead of the Blackhawks just yet. If the Canucks can steal a game in Chicago and then manage to hold serve on home ice, then we’ll soon be seeing them in West Final and quite possibly hoisting the cup not long after that, but it seems very likely that these two sides will instead split the first four games of this series, and maybe even the first six.
The prediction here is that the Canucks ultimately run out of comeback magic, and lose this series in game 7 on the road. Blackhawks in 7.
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