New season unlocked

New season unlocked

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A refresher for all you Canucks fans.

canuckschainHockey is back! It feels like it has been forever for some of you, hasn’t it? I will admit that I said that I would most likely not miss the NHL this season, giving me the chance to watch more NFL and NBA action. But now that it’s back, I feel so hap­py! Maybe I did indeed miss it. But it is just pure excitement for me to see training camp underway and the 48- game season just around the corner.

When the media was focusing on the whole mess about the CBA and the NHL lockout, it made me forget every­thing that has happened since the day after the Los Angeles Kings held the Stanley Cup. And now that we’re back to talking about the actual game and league, everything has suddenly jolted back to me. A lot has changed during the past offseason for the Canucks, some good, some bad, and a question mark or two. So let’s get caught up on what’s going on with our beloved Vancouver Canucks before we kick off the season.

Let’s get one thing out of the way first – the Luongo situation. It hasn’t happened folks, or at least not yet. Luongo is still a Vancouver Canuck as I write. He has showed up to train­ing camp here in Vancouver, which had many people talking. After such a crazy offseason for Luongo it was almost obvious that he was not go­ing to be a Canuck for long. He even dropped clues and hints to the media throughout the summer, calling Cory Schneider a future star for the team. Now that he is still here, it is almost a little awkward.

Both Luongo and Schneider are starting goaltenders; there is no ques­tion about it. So having both of them is a bit pointless if you ask me. Per­sonally, I like Schneider. He is a young and talented goalie. He is calm in the net and knows how to position him­self. Schneider isn’t even in his prime yet and he’s already taking over a spot of an elite goaltender. But don’t get me wrong. I am not a Luongo-hater. I believe he is a top five goalie in the NHL and he will continue his domi­nance for years to come. The only question is where would Luongo go? Luongo has said that he is only focus­ing on one thing at this time – stop­ping the puck.

Other than Luongo, let’s not forget the player we lost to free agency – Sami Salo. Salo was one of my favourite Ca­nucks and I still cannot believe that he is not a Tampa Bay Lightning. He has left a huge hole in the Canuck de­fense as he and his bomb of a slapshot moves south-east. The Canuck de­fense is still deep. With the signing of Jason Garrison, Salo’s spot is easily filled. The Canucks are so deep in de­fenseman that it goes down to about 9 players who are capable of making the team. The ninth player on the defen­sive depth chart is Kevin Connauton, a promising defensive prospect. With a defensive core consisting of Dan Hamhuis, Kevin Bieksa, Alex Edler, Keith Ballard, Chris Tanev, and Jason Garrison, I wouldn’t be too worried about the Canucks’ defense.

With good news comes some bad news. Ryan Kesler is still injured af­ter having two off-season injuries. It was originally expected that Kesler would be back by now, however, after having wrist surgery his return date as been extended. This creates a gi­ant hole in the Canucks’ second line centre position. Oh how I miss Cody Hodgson. Fortunately, this creates a perfect opportunity for the Canucks’ top prospect Jordan Schroeder, who was picked in the first round by the Canucks back in 2009. Let’s not for­get that we have Chris Higgins who is capable of playing centre, as he did for the Habs. This is still a big ques­tion mark for the Canucks as we en­ter the short season but it would be interesting to see what decision Alain Vigneault will make.

I predict that the Canucks will win the Northwest Division once again. But it won’t be as easy as it was before as other teams in the division have improved. A notable threat to the Ca­nucks would be the Minnesota Wild, who has signed both Zach Parise and Ryan Suter in the summer. Althought the other teams have improved, the Canucks have a much better core of players and an insane depth chart. Let’s hope the Sedins and Burrows have another good year offensively and that the defense will do what they are capable of. As for goaltending, there is no problem with two amazing goalies fighting for a starting posi­tion. Welcome back Canucks! Cheers.

HAPPY TIMES

HAPPY TIMES

No reason to celebrate

No reason to celebrate