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B-town Canuck

Spector article

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The question surrounding the Vancouver Canucks has for some months been, is the window closing on this group's Stanley Cup aspirations?

Any more injuries and the queries will shift to, should the Canucks even be in the Stanley Cup conversation anymore?

Ryan Kesler -- gone for better than a month, after his third surgery in two years.

David Booth -- spent the lockout hunting bears instead of readying himself to track down the Bruins, then couldn't even make it through the first workout. His groin is shot -- his credibility remains on I.R. as well -- and he's out a month-and-a-half.

That means no second line to start the short, 48-game season in Vancouver, when it was depth and high-end skill that took the Canucks to the Cup in '11.

Even head coach Alain Vigneault had lost his sense of humour somewhat when he addressed the media on Tuesday, sans the winks and one-liners that often punctuate a Vigneault news conference.

"My job is to play with the players who are available to our team and we've got quite a few hockey players available, good hockey players," Vigneault said. "Like we've always done, we're going to find a way to make this work."

There is a school of thought that suggests Vancouver's injury woes could expedite a Roberto Luongo trade, but we see it from the opposite angle. If the offers did not please GM Mike Gillis' eye before the Booth injury was announced, they're not apt to get any better now that he's in a position of weakness.

Though it must be said, with his situation at forward, a poor start could strip Gillis of his ability to remain patient.

It's amazing, isn't it, how a club can go from Game 7 of a Stanley Cup final to the position the Canucks are in so quickly?

Entering a 48-game season minus Kesler and Booth -- with names like Mikael Samuelsson, Christian Ehrhoff, Sami Salo and the constant threat that was the menace Raffi Torres now in the rearview mirror -- how do you look at these Canucks the same way we did only a few months ago?

Nobody has better goaltending, with Luongo and Cory Schneider, but how long can Gillis sit on a backup of Luongo's caliber when his needs at forward are so acute?

As for the second line, we can't improve on how Jason Botchford worded it in the Vancouver Province: "When you start calling any combination of Zack Kassian, Andrew Ebbett, Mason Raymond and (Jordan) Schroeder a second line, others are going to label you desperate."

Of that group, only Raymond is a legit second line NHL player. And he's a No. 5 or 6 forward on a good team. Kassian, Ebbett and Schroeder have 207 NHL games between them, and the latter two are 5-foot-9 or shorter.

So the formula that was once in place -- where lines 2-4 were adept enough to draw the penalties that the Sedins would capitalize on -- is in jeopardy.

The Canucks No. 1 line used to wear out the opponent's top defensive pairing. And there is no reason to think that will stop.

But does Vancouver still have the advantage when the second and third lines hop the boards against second and third D-pairings? That advantage has vastly diminished, if it exists at all.

Is the unit of Chris Higgins, Maxim Lapierre and Jannick Hansen a legit second line? Or more of a third unit, when you consider that all third- and fourth-line players back in the spring of '11?

What about preparedness? Vancouver had almost nobody playing overseas or in the AHL, save for Schneider's eight games in Switzerland.

Will Jason Garrison be ample replacement for Christian Ehrhoff or Sami Salo, two mainstays the last time Vancouver was a playoff winner. Can he close a 5-on-3 as Salo used to, with one of the finest one-timers in the game?

Or does he work out the way the last two acquisitions from Florida have for Gillis, as Keith Ballard and Booth have both been expensive flops.

Inside the Northwest Division, Minnesota is a tougher foe this season, and Edmonton will likely take a few points from the Canucks that, over the past many seasons, have been a lock for Vancouver.

It is the team in blue and green that is the problem for Canucks fans right now, however. A team that was supposed to be more than a one-year wonder Cup contender.

Mark Spector is the senior columnist on sportsnet.ca

We are not as strong as we were but I think we are still contenders.

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I'm tired of hearing about that damn window.

If the Red Wings have taught us anything, it's that there is no such thing as a "window" for a team to win.

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Ho Hum.

SURPRISING OUTLOOK... NOT.

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"Any more injuries and the queries will shift to, should the Canucks even be in the Stanley Cup conversation anymore?"

Back-to-back President's Trophy winners says yes (they have what it takes to win over a season); multitudes of injuries says no

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Has everyone forgot that the second line was shot at the start of 2011-2012 as well with Kesler and Raymond both out? The team still managed to perform at a high level.

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Seeing as he missed the boat on Booth's injury. it's safe to guess he may have missed it elsewhere, too. I wouldn't give it a lot of credence.

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Holy smokes, he really throws the extremes at things... and I thought the people on CDC were bad at over the top gloom and doom

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I think this is the time where Deb chimes in and threatens to ban Mark Spector for having an opinion.

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I love how everything is so doom and gloom surrounding the Canucks all of a sudden. :lol:

This team loses two players, and all of a sudden we're not even a contender anymore? Of course Kesler is a big part of this team, but if we can't even survive a month without him, then we were never much of a contender anyways.

90% of the team is still in tact. We have one of the deepest D-cores in the West, and a goalie tandem that is envied by the entire league. Not to mention the Sedins and Burrows are ready to start passing circles around other teams. Our powerplay will still be lethal, which has been a big part of us winning in the past.

Just Eastern media guys trying to get a jab at the Canucks. Let me guess though, everythings rosey for the Leafs? There's no question marks there right? They've got Scrivens and Reimer after all. And Rielly is the next coming of Niedermeyer...

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he fails to mention in month kesler will be more rested and healthier than he's been in a season and 1/2. booth will be back and hopefully able contribute. erhoff salo are not the same players they were 2 season ago garrison is an upgrade from what salo IS. this team should be well rested for the first time in a while, injuries will happen to every team sucks it happen before the season but reality is hopefully this could mean the team gets into the playoffs heathy for the first time ever.

i would rather limp into the season than the playoffs, yea yea short season every game counts to think this team with out booth and kesler will not make the playoffs is a stretch at best. solid d, solid goaltending, one of the best top lines in the game and a solid bottom six. if the nucks miss the playoff because two players are out they don't deserve to be there anyway.

the kings/bruins proved every team is a contender once you make the playoffs.

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...

What about preparedness? Vancouver had almost nobody playing overseas or in the AHL, save for Schneider's eight games in Switzerland.

...

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I think this is the time where Deb chimes in and threatens to ban Mark Spector for having an opinion.

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I'm tired of hearing about that damn window.

If the Red Wings have taught us anything, it's that there is no such thing as a "window" for a team to win.

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I love how everything is so doom and gloom surrounding the Canucks all of a sudden. :lol:

This team loses two players, and all of a sudden we're not even a contender anymore? Of course Kesler is a big part of this team, but if we can't even survive a month without him, then we were never much of a contender anyways.

90% of the team is still in tact. We have one of the deepest D-cores in the West, and a goalie tandem that is envied by the entire league. Not to mention the Sedins and Burrows are ready to start passing circles around other teams. Our powerplay will still be lethal, which has been a big part of us winning in the past.

Just Eastern media guys trying to get a jab at the Canucks. Let me guess though, everythings rosey for the Leafs? There's no question marks there right? They've got Scrivens and Reimer after all. And Rielly is the next coming of Niedermeyer...

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The media is in full knive in the back mode when they sense a weakness in the Canucks. The worst are the ones in Vancouver, they love to take this team down it keeps their jobs safe. The media has a right to their opinion but most of them think they could do a better job than the GMs in this league.

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Detroit can actually draft though

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schneider

edler

hansen

kesler

Schroeder

bieksa

sedin

sedin

raymond

Hodgson

so can Vancouver, regardless of the ignorance of most people

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I'm tired of hearing about that damn window.

If the Red Wings have taught us anything, it's that there is no such thing as a "window" for a team to win.

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Marc Spector is back and in terrible form as usual.

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