Originally written May 01, 2013 on NorthWest Sports Beat:
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Flying V’s Keys To A Cup Run! The Vancouver Canucks have advanced to the Stanley Cup Playoffs once again, but after two consecutive Presidents’ Trophies the optimism in Vancouver could be higher heading into this year’s post-season. Could the Canucks surprise the Western Conference and make another lengthy run towards the Stanley Cup? If so, the reigning Northwest Division Champions may need a few favours from the Hockey Gods this time around. A healthy Cory Schneider Cory Schneider’s health has been the talk of Vancouver since his mysterious ” body injury” was first revealed last week, and after two poor performances from Roberto Luongo it seems Schneider’s health will be paramount in any potential Stanley Cup run. We may never know what exactly Schneider has suffered from all week, or whether this “injury” is simply an elaborate smoke-screen to take the pressure off his first post-season as Vancouver’s starter, but barring a return to health or a bounce-back from Roberto Luongo the Canucks could see some cracks start to show in their crease this post-season. Resilient rearguards The health of Kevin Bieksa and Chris Tanev is crucial heading into this year’s playoff run. Vancouver’s two original right-handed defenceman sat out for several games as the regular season came to a close, and will both be necessary to keep Vancouver’s blue line steady under the increased pressure and intensity of playoff hockey. Kevin Bieksa was seen practicing with the Canucks on Monday, while Chris Tanev remains “day-to-day” in a walking boot. Ryan Kesler was a key contributor against the Sharks in 2011, is a repeat performance possible? Kesler returns to form Ryan Kesler played a key role in the Vancouver Canucks’ 2011 playoff run, and will need to return to form once again opposite Joe Thornton and the San Jose Sharks in the head-to-head rematch. Kesler seems to play better with a chip on his shoulder, and facing off against Jumbo Joe once again should stoke the fire inside a well-rested #17 after playing his number’s worth in games during the regular season. Who knows, maybe we’ll even see a long anticipated fight to start the series. Sedins shine Henrik and Daniel Sedin have quietly enjoyed another near-point-per-game season for the Canucks, but have begun to embrace the defensive side of the game after facing criticism in season’s past for their cycle play, and lack-lustre defensive coverage. While the Sedins have run the cycle with great success over the years, their “fancy” stats this season show progress on the defensive side of the puck which should greatly benefit the Canucks in the post-season. Young guns The Vancouver Canucks will need some of their younger players to step up their game in the post-season. Zack Kassian had a fantastic start to the regular season but quickly fell from grace, putting up only 11 points in 39 games for the Canucks. After struggling to stay consistent Kassian needs to channel his inner Todd Bertuzzi in the playoffs and perform like the power forward Mike Gillis envisioned when he sent Cody Hodgson packing two years ago. Youngster Frank Corrado will need to learn playoff hockey on the fly after playing well in his first three games at the NHL level. Corrado is expected to start the playoffs alongside Andrew Alberts on Vancouver’s third defensive pairing while Keith Ballard remains locked in Alain Vigneault’s dog house. CLICK HERE CHECK OUT THE CANUCKS BLOG IN OUR CLUBHOUSE SECTION AT NWSB!
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