Most impressive feat this season?
Daniel's 98 points
Canucks' 51 wins
9-game road win streak
Western Conference crown
Lui's 36 wins
What impresses me most, however, is the balance that this team has - the fact that the Canucks have the best home record in the nhl, they have the best road record in the nhl, they have scored the most goals and given up the fewest. They have accomplished all of this as a team despite the fact that at no point in the season have they had their top 6 defencemen healthy, and have usually suited up without 2 or 3 of their top guys - in fact, not a single blueliner has had an injury-free season. Add to the list the fact that the Canucks power play and penalty killing are also the best, and you have a TEAM that in many ways has been simply peerless
I will undoubtedly get tired of hearing that the Canucks will be judged by their playoff performance alone. In my mind people have repeatedly overstated the significance of playoff losses to Chicago the last few seasons. Could Chicago have won the cup if they had injuries to any of their key defencemen? I seriously doubt they could have gotten by the injury riddled Canucks, who despite missing several key guys, gave Chicago all they could handle. It may be said that you have to be both good and lucky to win the cup and Chicago was good and fortunate. The Canucks have rolled to the President's trophy by simply being good. To appreciate that we have to look at their performances on the ice, behind the bench, and upstairs.
To give credit where it is due, of all the wise decisions made by Mike Gillis and his support team, the decision to add key defencemen and to retain the existing depth was perhaps most integral to their success this season. Holding onto Corey Schneider may someday fall into the same category of foresight. With the difficult and complicated exception of Willie Mitchell, the Canucks opted not to move anyone else despite the prevailing reasoning that there wasn't room for so many quality defensemen. In the end the injury to Sami Salo allowed them to stay under the cap and his return at a time when they were depleted by injuries gave them just enough depth to keep their winning momentum. The Canucks went through their toughest stretch this season with injuries and fatigue, yet still managed to alternate wins and losses - you know you are having a great season when your most challenging stretch sees you win 6 of 11. It was almost amusing to hear the nay-sayers sense they were spotting a crack.
The result of great decision-making is a team that may otherwise have had a weak spot emerge with the rash of injuries on the blue line - instead, the Canucks did everything they could to heal that achilles and have given the fans a TEAM that has been, whether healthy or not, the best in the nhl in virtually every facet of the game.
Let's hope they can add the icing...