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Why the Canucks can win the Cup

Wednesday, 04.29.2009 / 1:29 PM / Conference Semifinals: Vancouver vs. Chicago

By Derek Jory - NHL.com Correspondent

The air of optimism surrounding the Vancouver Canucks and their chance at winning the Stanley Cup this season is supported by a couple of good ol' adages.

One makes reference to a team being practically unbeatable when their goalie is hot; the other says something about defense winning championships.
In both instances, the Canucks are good to go.

Throw in a saying about offense being the key to success, for argument's sake of course, and Vancouver is still sitting pretty.

Of the eight teams remaining in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Canucks are the most likely to be sipping bubbly from the Cup come mid-June and it's because of the balanced attack they present.
Led by the goaltending prowess of Roberto Luongo, Vancouver is a tough team to score on – just ask the St. Louis Blues.

"Lui" allowed only five goals in the opening round; he was here, he was there, he was everywhere and when he's playing as well as he is right now, arguably the best he's performed in his nine-year career, it's a wonder anything eludes him.

Luongo is human though, as shocking as that is to hear, and even when he's not in the zone the Canucks can keep the puck out of their net thanks to a stacked blue line.

Veterans like Mattias Ohlund, Sami Salo and Willie Mitchell are complimented by the likes of Kevin Bieksa, Alex Edler and Shane O'Brien. It's the perfect combination of expertise and enthusiasm and it led to Vancouver finishing the regular season with the fourth-best defensive record in the Western Conference with 220 goals-against.

As they demonstrated all season and proved again in the first round with 11 points, the defense can contribute offensively, making it a unit to fear at both ends of the rink.

Tale of the tape

LUONGO
G - VAN
(#1)
HEIGHT: 6' 3" WEIGHT: 205
'08-09 Stats:
GAMES: 54
RECORD:
33-13-7
SV%: .920
GAA: 2.34
KHABIBULIN
G - CHI
(#39)
HEIGHT: 6' 1" WEIGHT: 209
'08-09 Stats:
GAMES: 42
RECORD:
25-8-7
SV%: .919
GAA: 2.33
All that won't land Vancouver a championship without a few goals, which Daniel and Henrik Sedin are more than happy to provide.

The twins finished the regular season with 82 points each and have carried that over into the post-season with nine combined points, alongside a plus-8 rating against the Blues.

Add Alex Burrows' clutch scoring, the Selke-nominated play of Ryan Kesler (you can't spell Kesler without Selke), tireless work from Mats Sundin, Steve Bernier, Ryan Johnson, Kyle Wellwood and Mason Raymond and voilà, you've got your offense.

If all that isn't enough to end Vancouver's Stanley Cup drought, consider this: in each of the last two decades the Canucks have gone on a ridiculous playoff run, so clearly they're due for another.
And this time the story will end on a happy note.

Quote of the Day

You could see out there that everybody was willing to compete, to sacrifice, even blocking shots to the end. Even in the third when we were up 5-0, guys were still working hard and blocking shots That's a nice feeling also for the future.

— Flames goalie Jonas Hiller after his team's 5-0 win over Carolina
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