Please welcome the newest blogger to Canuckz.com, the one we like to call ‘Geraldz Diduck’
The so-called “parity” of the salary cap era is on display, as the three top seeds are now eliminated in the East. But what about the parity between the West and the East? It seems as though the only strong team remaining in the East is the Pittsburgh Penguins and compared to their counterparts in the West; San Jose, Chicago, Detroit and Vancouver, they look overmatched.
After besting a hot Halak in Montreal, and defeating either a decimated Flyers squad, or a sub-par Bruins team; the Pens should cruise to their third consecutive Stanley Cup final. After this relatively easy road to the final, the dream of repeating as Cup champs ends there. The Pens only chance repeating as Cup champions would be a Conn Smythe performance from Sid the Kid, or possibly the good fortune of playing a beaten, bruised, and injury riddled team coming out of the West. The West is too strong and the Stanley Cup will return to the more dominant Conference.
So which team will hoist Lord Stanley’s Cup this year? My prediction is the Vancouver Canucks and the Detroit Red Wings in the Conference final with the winner being crowned Stanley Cup Champion.
Vancouver vs. Chicago
What a series this will be. After last year’s 7 goal Roberto Luongo debacle in game 6, not to mention Patrick Kane’s three goal performance, this series is personal. These two teams have a deep seeded hatred toward each other and it should be fantastic to watch the emotions run high.
The Canucks were defeated last year in the second round due to two major factors; secondary scoring and Luongo’s inability to win the big game.
The primary and secondary scoring for the Vancouver Canucks is greatly improved to that of last season. The Sedin twins have taken their games to another level and, more importantly, are producing in the playoffs at greater than a point per game clip. Following the Sedin example there is an abundance of offensive talent the disposal of Alain Vigneault including: Burrows, Samuelsson, Kesler, Raymond, Demitra, Wellwood, and Grabner. The versatility of these players has made it easier for Vigneault to juggle lines when the chemistry has dissipated, allowing for three lines that can produce offensively at any time.
As for the debate on the current mental and physical state of Roberto Luongo, the jury is still out. The question of Luongo’s ability to win the big game seems to have been answered after his gold medal winning Olympic performance at the 2010 Vancouver Games. Luongo is a winner and desperately wants to avenge the 7-5 result that ousted Vancouver from playoffs one year ago. He will be focused, sharp, and the Luongo of old. Compared to a playoff rookie in Antti Niemi, who has looked weak at times thus far, Luongo and the Canucks easily win the goalie battle.
The Blackhawk forwards have a good mix of youth and talent. The addition of Marian Hossa puts pressure on the best of NHL defensemen with his size and skill. Hossa, Kane, Toews and Sharp allow Chicago to roll two good scoring lines and this will present a problem for this depleted Canuck defence. If Andrew Alberts, possibly the worst Canuck to ever dawn a jersey, sees any action against this offense, he will be exploited to no end.
The defensive battle is definitely won by the Hawks with the likes of Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, and a healthy Brian Campbell. The Canucks, on the other hand, are an injury away from disaster on the back end. When Aaron Rome, Nolan Baumgartner, Lawrence Nycholat look like studs, your defence is in trouble.
The key to this series will be the play of the second and third lines, as well as, the roll players. Players such as Kesler, Burrows, Ryan Johnson and Jannik Hansen for the Canucks; and Bolland, Byfuglien, Fraser and Versteeg for the Hawks. The contributions and hard work from these types of player will win or lose this series. This category is a tie.
Prediction: I’m going to differ from Tonyz Tanti’s prediction yesterday, Canucks in 6