It was one of the most disappointing first round series in Canucks history and not just for obvious reasons. The Canucks didn’t lose to the Sharks because of a bad bounce (of which there were a few) or bad penalties (of which there were lots). No, they lost because they weren’t good enough. This was not an aberration, it was a revelation. The Canucks aren’t as good as many of us thought they were.
By no means am I suggesting that the Canucks were the odds on favourites to win the Stanley Cup this year, but I certainly thought they were in the mix. But to watch how they lost to San Jose, big changes need to be made.
Sure, the Canucks played San Jose reasonably well at even strength, but special teams matter as well. The Canucks made the Sharks power play (a good power play during the regular season) look like the power play of the 1970s Montreal Canadiens.
Sure, the Canucks had injuries to Chris Tanev, David Booth and Cory Schneider, but good teams don’t roll over at the first sign of adversity.
There are a lot of questions about the core of this team. Can the Sedins be as elite in the playoffs as they are in the regular season? I don’t believe they are too soft or get intimidated, but their style of play does not lend itself well to the playoffs when hooking, holding and crosschecking rules are relaxed by NHL referees.
Can Ryan Kesler be the Ryan Kesler of 2011 again? He will still be an excellent player regardless, but I fear that 2011 will be a career year for him.
Can the Canucks win with this defense corps? Is their shutdown pairing good enough? Do they have a power play quarterback?
Is the Canucks supporting cast good enough? Can they score enough? Are they tough enough?
I ask these questions to myself about the Canucks every year, but the 2011 team showed me a lot and made me believe. The up and down play of the Canucks the last two seasons and their playoff performance this year has me wondering.
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