If there was ever a year the Vancouver Canucks
were going to win the Stanley Cup, this is it. All of the pieces have seemingly come together at the right time.
This might be hard to believe for hockey fans in the East who have only heard rumors of the Western Conference's existence, but the Canucks might possess the best player in the League in Henrik Sedin
The winner of the Art Ross
Trophy had a career high 112 points to capture the League's scoring title, and he did it all in what is clearly the superior conference. Sedin has shown he's ready to carry his team past the second round, which has been a roadblock for the franchise over the last four seasons.
Also, the Canucks are a better team offensively than the one that was bounced by the Chicago Blackhawks
in six games last season. They boast six players who scored at least 20 goals, including off-season acquisition Mikael Samuelsson
, who went through his share of playoff wars with the Detroit Red Wings
and is sure to add a bit of experience that was lacking in the past.
Remember when critics questioned Roberto Luongo
's ability to win a big game? Well that went right out the window with his gold-medal winning performance at this year's Winter Olympics. Luongo replaced the game's all-time greatest goalie, Martin Brodeur
, then backstopped Team Canada to gold after the team's dismal showing in the preliminary round.
Sure, there were times when Luongo looked like he was wearing a blocker on each hand, but he didn't succumb to the pressure of the Olympics, which were being played in front of his home fans in Vancouver.
The Canucks were tops in the West in goals scored and among the best in goals allowed. Their defensemen (Christian Ehrhoff
, another new face, led the team's blueliners with 14 goals) scored the second-most goals in the West, behind only Phoenix. There aren't many holes in this team.
If they play with confidence and grit, they could very well be the first Canadian team to win the Stanley Cup since 1993.
Follow Dave Lozo on Twitter at: @DLozoNHL