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"Bring on the Playoffs"

Columnist John Garrett previews the 2016-17 season

by John Garrett @SNJohnGarrett / Canucks Freelance Writer

The Hockey News, USA Today and just about every other preview magazine and prognosticator have picked the Canucks to miss the playoffs and be among the worst teams in the league this upcoming season. They are basing their opinions solely on last year's terrible season and that is just not right. You have to look at the last two years and justify what took place.

In 2014-2015, the Canucks finished with 101 points. They scored 242 goals and allowed 222. Last year they had 75 points and scored 191 and let in 243. In 2014-2015, the line of Henrik Sedin, Daniel Sedin and Radim Vrbata played 243 games and had 112 points. Last year they played 219 games and had 143 points. Henrik and Daniel both played hurt and Henrik had to spend entire games standing on the bench. Now they are both healthy and have a new linemate in fellow Swede Loui Eriksson. He had 30 goals and 63 points in Boston last year. You can't tell me this line won't put up close to 200 points.

In 2014-2015, Alex Edler played 74 games and averaged almost 24 minutes per game. Last year he only dressed for 52. Last year Brandon Sutter was brought in to be the second line center. He was coming off a 21-goal season in Pittsburgh and could kill penalties. In his previous five years in the NHL he had missed, get this, three games. Last year he missed 62! In 2014-2015 Shawn Matthias and Nick Bonino combined for 33 goals. Give me a healthy Sutter and a maturing Bo Horvat and they will score at least that many.

Jannik Hansen had 16 goals two years ago and 22 last year. He should be able to repeat that number. Sven Baertschi had 15 goals last year mostly in the second half. He should hit the 20-goal plateau. Ben Hutton was a pleasant surprise and should be even better playing with the newly acquired Erik Gudbranson, who should give the Canucks some much needed physical edge on the blueline, especially at home. Matt Bartkowski led the Canucks defencemen in penalty minutes last year and he only had 50.

Last year was the first time in 16 years the Canucks were under .500 at home and they were six games under. They have to get back to making Rogers Arena a tough place for the visitors to play in. You can bet Ryan Miller and Jacob Markstrom will get their averages back around 2.50 and find a good balance moving forward. The Canucks power play was 26th in the league at 15.8 per cent. You know it is going to be better than that. Coach Doug Jarvis will help the penalty killing get better. It won't be easy but it is definitely possible.

Last year Minnesota got into the playoffs with 87 points. The Canucks can do that. Optimism is defined as a hopefulness and confidence in the future. Bring on the playoffs.

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