by Patrick Hoffman on 02/10/11 at 01:19 PM ET
In 1994, the Vancouver Canucks made it to the Stanley Cup Finals as a seventh seed in the Western Conference, only to lose in seven games to the New York Rangers.
Fast forward 17 years later and it looks like the Canucks have what it takes to get the big dance once again, this time as not only one of the best teams in the West, but one of the best teams in the entire National Hockey League.
The team currently finds themself atop the NHL standings with 79 points and this should come as no surprise to those knowledgeable about the game of hockey and the Canucks. With that said, there are three reasons why this team is succeeding: high-octane offense, depth at all positions, and goaltending.
With that in mind, let’s examine each of those reasons in a bit more detail:
Simply put, these team can score goals with the best of the them. The Canucks are currently ranked first in the league in goals for with 181 goals for. This means that the team is average over three goals a game (3.35 to be exact.)
The guys who are really lighting the lamp for the Canucks are Ryan Kesler (31), Daniel Sedin (28), Alexandre Burrows (14), Mikael Samuelsson (13) and Henrik Sedin (12). These guys know how to put the puck in the net whether it is even strength, power play, penalty kill or empty net.
The guys mentioned above have all contributed a bunch of goals for their team this season but including those players, there are at least eight guys who have 10 goals or more. Not on the players mentioned above are Raffi Torres (11), Christian Ehrhoff (10) and Mason Raymond (10).
Canucks’ head coach Alain Vigneault has an offensive arsenal at his fingertips and is using it to his advantage this season. He has come up with the right line combinations and has put each one of his players in a position to succeed.
You cannot talk about the Canucks’ success this season and not mention the fine play of Roberto Luongo.
In 41 games, Luongo is 26-8-7 with a 2.23 goals against average, a .926 save percentage and three shutouts. He has even managed to beat his arch-nemsis this season in the Chicago Blackhawks. Could Luongo be reversing a trend and be the goaltender that gets the Canucks to the Stanley Cup Finals?
With that said, however, the team has also gotten solid goaltending from backup Corey Schneider. In 15 games, Schneider is 9-2-2 with a 2.25 goals against average and a .926 save percentage.
All in all, this year’s Canucks hockey team has what it takes to win a Cup. The question is, as always, will they be able to get it done in the early rounds to get to where they really want to get to?
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Patrick has a tremendous passion for hockey. Besides covering the Rangers and the NHL for Kukla's Korner, you can also find Patrick's work over at Sportsnet.ca, The Red Light District Hockey Blog, NHL Home Ice, and Liam Maguire's Ultimate Hockey web site.
Prior to writing for the above mentioned outlets, you could find Patrick's musings at hockey web sites/outlets such as TheHockeyNews.com, TheFourthPeriod.com, Spector's Hockey, Hokeja Vestnesis, Blueshirt Bulletin, SNYRangersBlog.com and many more.
For questions, comments and hip checks, feel free to e-mail Patrick at firstname.lastname@example.org.