This year's playoffs, according to one writer from theScore, are going to be a gong show. And he's not wrong. With teams in the playoffs this year that weren't last year, such as Vancouver, Calgary, Winnipeg, Nashville, Washington, Ottawa, and the New York Islanders, it really is quite open as to who could take the Stanley Cup this year.
Now, while there might be a little bit of bias, There's a lot of bias toward my pick, as I think this could be Vancouver's year to win it all. Yes, I am a Canucks fan. But yes, the Canucks can definitely win the Cup this year, and here's three reasons why:
1. Our Coach
This last summer, John Tortorella, forever known (to me, at least) as "Hallway Invader John", was let go. Canucks fans everywhere were pleased, as last season was one wasted. His replacement? A man named Willie Desjardins from Climax, SK. This moustachioed coach wasn't any old coach, however. He'd just finished a Calder Cup run with the Texas Stars. And his winning record doesn't stop there. In fact, he's won in every league he's coached in. Now he's with Vancouver in a wide-open horse race for hockey's ultimate prize. Willie's record of winning should only spill over into the NHL, where he's done an excellent job not only with veterans like the Sedins, but young guns such as Bo Horvat and Zack Kassian as well. If he can carry this on into the playoffs, there's no doubt about the fact we'll go far.
2. Our Depth
Our depth this year has been fantastic. Not only have we been able to supplement our oft-injured roster with the likes of Ronalds Kenins, Frank Corrado (above), Alex Biega, Brandon de Fazio, Sven Baertschi, Jacob Markstrom, and Adam Clendening, but the Utica Comets themselves have enough depth to carry on without them.
At goalie, we have two NHL starters in the NHL and two NHL backups in the AHL. With Ryan Miller out with a knee strain, Eddie Lack stepped up to the challenge and gave us plenty of wins, building up a better stat line almost than Miller. Markstrom came up to be Eddie's backup, and while he wasn't exactly stellar, he did manage a win and has been lights-out as a Second Team All-Star in Utica. While Markstrom was up with the big team, Joacim Eriksson kept the Comets afloat near the top of the AHL standings.
At defense, there were tons of injuries this year. Tons. Playing at least nine defensemen this year, all have stepped up and have been able to contribute with goals and hits to help the Canucks back to offense. While some started terribly (I'm looking at you, Luca), the defensive unit as a whole has improved to help keep Vancouver in games. With young guns Ben Hutton and Ashton Sautner signing PTOs with the Comets, this should provide the Canucks with sufficient depth in the playoffs, should they need it.
At forward, we haven't needed much depth, but when we have, guys like Kenins were able to step up and contribute hits and goals. A lot of his production has tapered off, but he still delivers big hits when needed. With Baertschi called up, and Shinkaruk and Conacher still in Utica scoring goals, our depth at forward is nothing to turn your nose up at. Once we get guys like Brad Richardson and Kassian back, our depth will help us get through a rough playoffs.
3. Radim Vrbata
Likely the most underrated signing of the summer, Radim "The Dream" Vrbata (31-30-61,+4) has been a revelation for the Canucks. Playing with the Sedins for the first half of the season, Vrbata became a first-time all-star. Now playing on the second line, he has continued to provide offense for Vancouver.
The star right winger has not only performed on the power play with 12 goals, but even draws up plays for man-advantage situations as well. Reigniting the Sedins' magic and a friendship with junior teammate Alex Burrows, Vrbata has become well-loved by Canucks fans. If he can continue his scoring touch, he might just end up as the Conn Smythe winner if the Canucks win it all.
So what about you? Do you think there are any more reasons the Canucks could win the Cup?
And as always,
Go Canucks Go!