2013 Canucks X-Factors
There is certainly an element of fortune that goes into a successful season and playoff run – injuries, puck-luck, slumps and hotstreaks and timing.
Oh yeah, and having a good, complete hockey team really helps too.
In recent history, the Vancouver Canucks have had strong squads and came within one game of winning a Cup, followed by successive early playoff exits since then.
So let’s have a look at what could be detrimental to a prosperous run in the coming year…
It should come as no suprise that the Roberto Luongo situation is a crucial one to advance from and make a run at a Cup.
This needs to get resolved ASAP, and by resolved I mean either he returns in a good headspace, he holds out and contract is terminated or the Canucks find a replacement via the fact that he’s traded/ bought out.
One of the biggest question marks is in net and how Luongo responds after returning to a relationship that has been diminished for over a year now.
The Health of the Second Line
Over the past three seasons, David Booth has played a grand total of 79 games including playoffs. That’s three less games than one full NHL regular season, not the including playoffs.
When Booth is on, he can be an effective scoring winger that can generate off of the rush with his excellent speed. However the Band-Aid table will need to be alluded this season.
If he can play close to a full season and be prepared come playoff time, he could provide a vital element of scoring the Canucks so badly need.
Ryan Kesler‘s had his bouts with injuries as well, coming off multiple surgeries to only get into 17 regular season games last year before the four and out playoff series against the Sharks.
The Canucks will need a healthy Kesler for the rigours of the playoff grind.
He is their best defensive centerman, their best goal scorer up the middle and an emotional leader on the ice who can change the complexion of a series (look at the Nashville series a couple years ago).
The Sedins, Alex Edler and John Tortorella
How will the team and it’s stars respond to a new system, coaching style and personality that is vastly different than the previous one?
What effect will John Tortorella have on the stars? Will it be a case similar to Brad Richards, Marian Gaborik, and Carl “I don’t know what to tell you, he stinks!” Hagelin in New York?
Or will it be Stanley Cup Champions Brad Richards, Vinny Lecavlier, Marty St. Louis and Dan Boyle in Tampa Bay before the New York Torts?
So far, Tortorella has said all the right things regarding his key players.
He’s had success with young defenceman in the past – Boyle, Michael Del Zotto, Marc Staal, Dan Girardi and Ryan McDonaugh to name a few, so let’s hope Edler follows suit and steps it up to another level this season.
Maybe it was the change of scenery, maybe it was Torts, but Rick Nash seemed to play with a renewed fire after heading to New York.
On the other hand, Brad Richards was given plenty of opportunities to pull himself out of essentially a season long slump (save for one streak) but was ultimately subjected to 4th line and press box duty in playoffs.
Marian Gaborik had both up and down years with Tortorella, maybe the message worn thin in the end but he did manage a stellar 2011-2012 season.
Hopefully the Sedins will be able to return to over a point-per-game status with a new voice lighting a fire under them this season, surely all parties ultimately want that goal and a successful playoff run…speaking as a fan, I know I do.
While there are a number of other factors to a successful season, be it depth scoring, production on the point, young players ability to translate their game to the NHL, etc.
However, the above mentioned will be most crucial for success.
With a regular training camp and preseason, this group will ideally all be on the same page come start of the season and get on a roll into playoff push time.