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On the afternoon for the first time this season I will be able to see my Vancouver Canucks live at the United Center. I have a few things I am thinking about.  The main thing that comes to mind is…which Vancouver Canuck team will I see? Will I see the gate busters that won two from Calgary and mustered enough inside them to beat the defending Stanley Cup Champions, the Red Wings? Or am I going to see the the 10 shot team from the Washington Capitals game? Or even more so the team that looked like 3 day old soda against the Buffalo Sabres? I don’t know.  All I know is as a Canuck fan living away from Vancouver, it’s going to be a treat for me to see my team regardless.

I understand we are still only six to seven games into the season, never the less, I believe we can give a quick assumption as to what type of team are the Vancouver Canucks. I decided to “Pro and Con” this blog.  I’ll give you three reasons why the Canucks are “Contenders” and three reasons as to why the Canucks are “Pretenders”.

Top three reasons why the Canucks are “Contenders”

1. During the off-season, the Canucks have acquired the likes of Darcy Hordichuk, Pavel Demitra, and Steve Bernier. In those three acquisitions, the Canucks added toughness, a play-maker and scorer, while Bernier is an up and coming power forward with a very positive offensive upside.  In these three acquisitions alone, the Canucks addressed a few issues they were faced with. Fuse that with the maturing of Ryan Kesler, the speed of Mason Raymond and the cycling brilliance of the Sedins, the Canucks could fool a few teams.

2. When healthy, the Canucks have a very good defensive core up and down the line up. Ohlund, the longest serving Canuck, is a steady man on the blue line and now contributing more to the Canuck back end offense. Salo looks steady as ever as well, with his shot from the point, it’s hard to sit him down much. Bieksa and Mitchell add that toughness on the blue line. Edler is getting better and better with each game while O’ Brien and Davison can alternate for the 6th spot.

3. Last but not least, Roberto Luongo between the pipes gives you a fighting chance each and every night. A workhorse, a top 3 goalie in the league, and not to mention the newly appointed team Captain. Luongo leads by example with his worth ethic, his determination and his will to win. That alone can be contagious.
Put all three of those things together, you got a pretty fast, dynamic and hard working team.

Three reasons as to why the Canucks are “Pretenders”

1. With the abismal showing of offense last season, it’s a concern this season. In the game against the Capitals it’s hard to say if the Canucks are going to give teams a run if they only shot at the net 10 times throughout the whole game.  Simple concept, throw the puck at the net, continue to do so and good things will happen. Unfortunately, that’s a question still to be answered. Come back to me in 15 games or so.

2.  Backup goaltending.  As much as Roberto Luongo would like to play every game, we all know a goalie needs to sit down every now and then. With Luongo shouldering at least 70 games this year, and most likely more, how will Sanford fair sitting on the bench so much and not having enough games under his belt to ‘get into the groove’.  His performance against the Sabres on Friday night left a lot to be desired. His team could have helped him out more, yes, but it’s not exactly a stellar performance on his end.

3. Depth is the last factor as to why the Canucks are “Pretenders”.  If there happen to be a rash of injuries as it was so last year, who is ready to get called up? Wellwood was sent down to the farm due to his lack of conditioning, but who else is NHL ready? Not sure. Baumgartner is good to bring up to the bigs when necessary. I’m not as worried about the defense this year as I am about the forwards. Forward depth is not as deep as anyone would like.

Soak in what you have just read and assess the Canucks for yourselves. How do you think they will fair this year ? Are they contending or pretending? Which personality of this Jekyll and Hyde team will show up on a per game basis?  Only time will tell.

This has been a view from a broad,  a not too distant perspective.
Justine Galo, The Broad

Chicago, IL.