Earlier this week we took a look at the Canucks goaltenders and defencemen, deciding who is likely to return and who is likely to move on. Today, we look at the Canucks’ forwards. Mike Gillis doesn’t have a lot of work to do with his forwards, but he does have options. His most important forwards are already under contract for next year, so it’ll be just a matter of tinkering with his depth forwards. Given the lack of production from his second line at even strength, he may want to find a better winger to play with Ryan Kesler.
Due to the Canucks long playoff run, the team is in for a very short offseason. The NHL entry draft is in four days and free agency begins in only eleven days. Mike Gillis has some work to do, as all GMs do. Luckily for the Canucks, most of their core is locked up long term, but there are a few key players that will become restricted free agents. Kevin Bieksa, Christian Ehrhoff, Sami Salo, Andrew Alberts, Raffi Torres, Chris Higgins, Tanner Glass and Jeff Tambellini are all unrestricted free agents on July 1st. Maxim Lapierre, Jannik Hansen, Victor Oreskovich and Alex Bolduc are all restricted free agents.
As I sit in the comfort of my own living room, watching drunken hooligans ransack downtown stores, I was finally able to relax myself enough to type this up. I, like most of you, truly believed this was THE year. A President’s Trophy, a Clarence Campbell Bowl, a franchise record for points in a season, a William M. Jennings Trophy, an Art Ross Trophy, and Hart, Selke, Vezina, and Adams Trophy nominations. The highest scoring team in the regular season. The highest scoring defensive corps in the regular season. Let’s not forget that home teams in Game 7s of the finals were 12-3, and the whole trend of Stanley Cup wins after hosting Olympics in Canada. But quite simply put, it was not meant to be.
I’m not one to use Canucks marketing campaign slogans on a regular basis (I’ve never said that ‘we are all Canucks’), but never has ‘this is what we live for’ been more true. Game 7, Stanley Cup Final, at home. This IS what we live for. It’s what the players live for, it’s what the fans live for. Quite simply stated, it’s the biggest game in Canucks history. It’s bigger than 1994. There will probably never be a bigger game for this franchise. This is their time. They will become legends if they win, or be labeled as chokers should they come up short.
The Vancouver Canucks will get a chance to scratch a 40 year itch if they can find a way to win game 6 in Boston tonight. The Stanley Cup is in the building, and for only the second time in franchise history, the Canucks have a chance to carry it home.
We’re now through four games of the Stanley Cup final and the Vancouver Canucks have scored precisely five goals on Bruins netminder Tim Thomas. Of those five goals, only four of them were meaningful (the late goal in game 3 was scored in garbage time). Everyone is blaming Luongo right now (and there is validity to that blame), but they are not going to win this series unless they can score more goals. So this begs the question: how do the Canucks solve Tim Thomas?
I’m not sure if Alex Burrows has a widely used nickname yet, but I think we should call him “Big Goal Burrows”. Other players score more goals, but no other Canuck has as much flare for the dramatic, scoring big goals when his team needs it the most. His biggest goals are some of the biggest in franchise history!
Great news from the Canucks today, as it was revealed that Manny Malhotra has been medically cleared to play hockey again. Media outlets aren’t saying when he’s going to play, but I will. He will play in game 1. I base this on the fact that Cody Hodgson is getting very few minutes on the 4th line right now, and the fact that Malhotra has been skating for weeks. He should be in decent game shape. So if he’s medically able to play (which he is), he’ll play.
With a 1-0 win against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Friday night, the Canucks found out their opponent for the Stanley Cup Final. That opponent, of course, are the big bad Boston Bruins. While the Lightning probably have more star power, I think this matchup will provide a little more sizzle given that the Bruins are an original 6 franchise.
There’s a lot of talk about whether or not the Canucks are “Canada’s team” lately, given that they’re the last remaining Canadian team in the playoffs and the fact that a Canadian based team has not won the Stanley Cup since 1993. So are they Canada’s team? Do we care?
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