Vancouver Poised At Right Time
After a first half of the season whereby even some of their die-hard fans were writing them off as a team unable to make the playoffs, the Vancouver team has somehow managed to salvage their season, and is turning it on at the critical point…right before the playoffs begin.Vancouver has gone 8-1-1 in their last ten games, against some quality opposition at times, including wins over fellow western conference playoff teams like the Kings and the Coyotes and the Avalanche. The Canucks aren’t the same team who fell into eighth place in the west last year. So what is different this time around and what are the Canucks chances of advancing anywhere this playoff campaign.
1. Markus Naslund is there
Naslund was injured right before the playoffs last year and his absence was sorely felt in a canucks team that couldn’t do it without him. This time their leader and best player will be there, a force to be reckoned with, and making a good Vancouver team that much better.
2. The Colorado Avalanche
Last year their first found opponents were the imposing Avs, and despite the fact they may play this years version of the Avs (the Redwings), they are more ready for it, and between you and me, i think last years avs were more primed for the postseason than this years wings, and besides that, teams like Vancouver are more ready. If the Canucks draw the Avalanche first, they are a decent chance of causing the upset.
3. Todd Bertuzzi’s Year
Bertuzzi has gone from being a handy power forward, to one of the superstars of the game in season 2002. His line of Bertuzzi – Morrison – Naslund has been the best in the league since Christmas, and one can look to them to provide a threat in the playoffs. Bertuzzi has been one of the standouts this year and coupled with the chemistry this line demonstrates, they could turn a series on its head.
4. Cloutier Factor
How will Cloutier fare in the playoffs, particulary against a good scoring team. Will he be able to match it with the great playoff netminders of the league. One would suggest no, but time will tell.
5. They are a form team
The Canucks were idle at this point last year, but this time they have all the ingredients ready at the right time, and right before the playoffs it is coming together for them. If they can maintain any glimpses of this form in the first round, their more fancied rival may be in for a long series.
All in all, the Canucks look ready for the playoffs no matter where they finish the regular season and who they play. They aren’t a particularly old team, and experience (or lack thereof) may be a ruling factor. Watch for them to impress.