I was just in Vancouver, so I can tell you that the fans there are definitely optimistic about this team. Sickeningly optimistic, really - like optimistic enough to be planning the Stanley Cup parade route already. As much as I hate to admit it because I hate everything about the Canucks and their fans, they have every reason to be excited. They are the only legitimate contender in this division, and are perhaps the best team in the entire conference.
The biggest challenge this team faces is living up to their expectations. This team has often come into seasons with high hopes, but they have yet to completely meet them. They are a team that seems to embrace excuses and stumble when the pressure ratchets up. If they can finally show that they have matured past that then they could be dangerous.
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The weight of those expectations rests squarely on the shoulders of the Sedin brothers. last year they took the step from creepy twins who are way too close to two of the best players in the league. There is newly intensified focus on them this year. If they can handle that pressure then this team will thrive. If those two aren’t at their best, though, then that could have a ripple effect down the line.
Vancouver Canucks Offseason Moves
The team made their biggest move on the blueline where Willie Mitchell left and Sami Salo is out with an injury. To fill those gaps they brought in Dan Hamhuis and Keith Ballard. That not only makes up for what was lost, but improves the unit as a whole quite significantly. They now have a back-end that not only can control the play but which can move the puck up to the forwards very effectively. Offensively they added two very nice depth pieces in Raffi Torres and Manny Malhotra. Neither will lead the team in scoring, but thanks to the Sedins they don’t have to. What they can and will do is make the second and third lines that much more dangerous, and make the team that much more of a headache for opposing defenses.
Vancouver Canucks Outlook
As I said, this is the best team in the Division by a very wide margin, and quite probably the best team in the conference. Last year they faced the longest road trip in NHL history because of the Olympics, and they were hit hard with injuries. If they can stay healthier then the easier travel and the added depth will make them very tough to beat.
Vancouver Canucks Futures odds (from Bodog)
The Canucks are 8/1 to win the Cup - the fourth choice in the league, and second in the West behind Chicago. At 5/1 they are the second choice to win the Western Conference, and they are the runaway favorites in the Northwest at -333. Their points total is set at 106.5.
Vancouver Canucks NHL Predictions
It’s hard not to like this team. They are healthier, they are deeper, they have made good offseason moves, and they have the swagger that suggests they know exactly what they are capable of. It doesn’t hurt that they have the best goalie on the planet, either - at least Luongo is if he wants to be.
The Canucks will easily win the division, but tying up money for a whole season at that price isn’t attractive. The odds to win the Conference are far more attractive, and represent solid value in my eyes. I also think that there is value on the ‘over’ on the season total. They had 103 points last year, and that was with the road trip and the injuries.
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