What Needs To Be Done
While the match-up with the San Jose Sharks is more favourable to the Canucks than say St. Louis or Los Angeles, it will still be a difficult series. So here are five of the things that I think the Canucks need to do well in order to come out of Round 1.
Goaltending, Goaltending, Goaltending
It’s no secret that the big story for the Canucks this year is goaltending and the fact that Corey Schneider has been injured for the past week has only made that story bigger.
Cory Schneider is expected to start Game 1, but I expect both of them to get significant starts throughout the playoffs. But whoever starts during this series may need to stand on his head, as they have done throughout the season.
The Canucks as a team have struggled mightily scoring goals this season, with only about 2.65 goals per game and if that scoring inefficiency shows up again in the playoffs, Schneider and/or Luongo will need to be at their best.
Score off the Stanchion
This worked out well for the Canucks two years ago, didn’t it?
Okay, maybe we shouldn’t expect goals like this again but the Canucks need to score the ugly goals. Put the puck on net from bad angles, look for deflections, and take your good opportunities when you get them. Goals can be hard to come by in the playoffs, but scoring an ugly goal can be deflating for the other team.
Put Roy on the Third Line
Derek Roy and Ryan Kesler have very good chemistry, but the fact is that both of them are centres and in order to roll three lines that can score, Alain Vigneault needs to put Roy back on the third line.
Jordan Schroeder was just re-called and he has had some success this season as the third line centre, especially when he played with Mason Raymond and Jannik Hansen. So, if Roy and Kesler together is a fit, he is an option to play in that spot.
However, I don’t think he’s ready yet. He’s been up and down from the minors throughout the year and was not always a consistent player. And given that your other options are Andrew Ebbett and Maxim Lapierre,
Stop the Big 3
Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau, and Logan Couture.
They are the most dangerous Sharks and have had success in the past against the Canucks. Not much else to say here: Stop Them!
This may be the most important area: staying healthy. Hopefully, with the shortened season, less players will be banged up during the playoffs, but injuries are pretty much inevitable.
Just look at Ryan Kesler in 2011.
He was a dominant force in the first three rounds of the playoffs, and pretty much won the second round for the Canucks single-handedly, but tore his hip labrum against San Jose and was completely ineffective in the Stanley Cup Finals against Boston.
If any of the Canucks get injured over the course of the series, I sincerely hope that they won’t play unless they feel they can contribute. Otherwise, it hurts the team and it might make the injury worse in the long run.
My Projected Lineup
Here is the lineup that I want to see against the Sharks in Game 1 (but Vigneault might not agree).
- Daniel Sedin – Henrik Sedin – Alex Burrows
- Zack Kassian – Ryan Kesler – Mason Raymond
- Chris Higgins – Derek Roy – Jannik Hansen
- Steve Pinizzotto – Maxim Lapierre – Dale Weise