Why will the Vancouver Canucks win the Stanley Cup this June? Because they lost it last June -- and there is something to be said about learning from defeat on the biggest stage. Just ask the 2009 Pittsburgh Penguins, who learned from a difficult Final loss to the Red Wings the previous year and then vanquished Detroit for the Cup the following year. The blueprint is there for the Canucks.
The Big Why: For all its supposed faults, Vancouver is still the cream of the Western crop again this year. The Canucks, simply, are loaded with a dizzying mixture of skill and experience.
Obviously both lists are topped by the Sedin twins, Daniel and Henrik, who reached the 80-point plateau yet again. Daniel reached 30 goals despite missing the end of the regular season with a concussion. Offensively, the team also has Alexandre Burrows and Ryan Kesler, each of who has topped the 45-point mark this season and played a huge role in the march to Game 7 of the Final last June.
On the blue line, Dan Hamhuis and Kevin Bieksa anchor a deep blue line that can play the game virtually any way it needs to be played. Offensively, the defense is so dangerous. This is a unit that has managed more than 40 goals and close to 200 points.
Plus, Roberto Luongo, for all his warts, is still in the conversation when it comes to the League's elite goalies and reached the 30-win plateau yet again. If he runs into trouble, don't forget that Cory Schneider might just be the best backup in the NHL today.
The Big Uh-Oh: There are actually two.
The aforementioned Luongo is one. He does not enjoy the confidence of the Vancouver fans, a situation that was exacerbated by his meltdown in the Final against the Bruins. If he hits a rough patch this postseason, it will be a huge headache for coach Alain Vigneault, who has a goalie who won 20 games and has a better goals-against average and save percentage sitting on the bench ready to enter the fray.
The second is the health of Daniel Sedin, who has not played since March 21. Will the sensational Swede be ready for the postseason -- and if he is, will the sublime skills that make him such a threat return immediately as well. If not, the Canucks may well have trouble scoring.
The Final Argument: Despite the reasons for pause when looking at this team, there is no doubt it has the makeup to win. Luongo does own an Olympic gold medal. The Sedins are elite talents. Kesler is a natural leader who plays best when the stakes are at their highest. Plus, this Canucks team has learned how to win by losing. Those lessons will pay off this June in the franchise's first Cup title.