Breaking news, hockey fans: There’s an NHL playoff checklist in existence. And if your team can check off the six items on the list, you’re guaranteed a Stanley Cup victory and mid-June parade.
Do the Canucks have everything checked off, or will they just check out?
Simply The Best…Goalie
Ask anybody and they’ll tell you if you want to win in the spring, you need superior goaltending. Then ask anybody else and they’ll tell you Roberto Luongo is the most superior goaltender in the league.
Legitimate First Line
The Sedins seem like more of a 1A line than a true No. 1 unit, but Daniel and Henrik have been Vancouver’s go-to guys for so long they’re accustomed to the role. Plus, with Alex Burrows breaking out in a big way, the Sedins have the best linemate they’ve had during their eight-year tenure in Vancouver.
Old Guy Without A Ring
Why else do you think the Canucks signed Mats Sundin in the middle of the season? For secondary scoring? Get outta here. Every team needs inspiration, motivation and perspiration in the playoffs and the Canucks know they’ll get all three from Sundin.
Yes, of course, Sundin was acquired in the hopes he could solidify a second scoring unit. While he hasn’t been the offensive force that was anticipated, Sundin has created space for linemates Pavol Demitra and (especially) Ryan Kesler and has helped take the pressure off of the Sedins. Plus, it’s all about the playoff payoff – if Sundin sings in the spring, the Canucks won’t care if he hit a few sour notes back in January.
Defense! Defense! Defense!
Assistant captain Mattias Ohlund has been on the Canucks blueline since 1997; Sami Salo has been in Vancouver since 2002. Kevin Bieksa has been around for four seasons; Willie Mitchell for three. When your top four D-men have that much familiarity, it can only be a good thing. Even 22-year-old Alexander Edler has been around for three years, if you count a 22-game audition in 2006-07.
The Core, The Core, The Core
Here’s a theory on why teams like Detroit and New Jersey are successful year after year after year: The rosters of the Wings and Devils are dotted with players who have been there for a decade or more – and know what it takes to win. Long-timers such as Kris Draper, Kirk Maltby and Chris Chelios in Detroit and Colin White, John Madden and Brian Gionta in New Jersey set the win-at-all-costs tone for the team. And the Canucks have their share of these players, too, led by the Sedins, Salo and Ohlund.
Sam McCaig is The Hockey News' senior copy editor and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog appears every weekend and his column, From The Point, appears regularly.
For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, Subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.