Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Paul on 01/12/13 at 11:11 AM ET
from Cam Cole of the Vancouver Sun,
As Vigneault responded to the various challenges his team will face out of the gate, it was, frankly, harder than it ought to have been to envision this Canucks team as a Stanley Cup contender.
Apart from the 100 per cent in-conference schedule, which is going to make travel exponentially harder on the western teams - "Cry us a river," they are saying in Winnipeg, where the Jets are playing in the Southeast, and every road game will be in the Eastern time zone - there is the Roberto Luongo elephant in the room, and a lineup of forwards that, as current constituted, probably won't make opponents lose much sleep.
At least, not until Ryan Kesler returns from wrist and shoulder surgeries.
Nothing wrong with the first line of Henrik Sedin between his brother Daniel and Alex Burrows, and the checking line, with Chris Higgins and Jan-nik Hansen on Mac Lapierre's flanks, looks solid enough.
But the second scoring line is a shambles - they badly need a centreman to take over some of what Kesler offered, while playing between two huge disappointments of 2011-12, David Booth and Mason Raymond.
The centre could come back in a deal for Luongo, but Luongo is still here, eight months after the organization made it abundantly clear that his No. 1 spot would henceforth belong to Cory Schneider.
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