If any team’s window for Stanley Cup competitiveness is closing, it may be that of the Vancouver Canucks.
In recent years, the Canucks have had no trouble being successful in the regular season. They are always at or near the top of the Conference with a strong playoff seed and a favorable first round matchup. But they have failed to turn that into a Stanley Cup championship. They made it as far as Game 7 in the 2011 final, where they were bested by the Boston Bruins, a defeat that sparked an infamous riot in the streets of Vancouver.
With franchise players the Sedin twins not getting any younger and re-established number one goaltender Roberto Luongo also reaching the end of his prime years, the Canucks will have to make some changes in the near future. But they may have another year or two to go all the way on the strength of their current stars.
Odds To Win Stanley Cup: 20/1
Key #1: A focused, determined Roberto Luongo
It’s hard to describe the Canucks goaltending situation as anything but a mess.
For years, the team positioned Cory Schneider as Luongo’s heir, and last season they all but ordained him the number one. But they did so without moving Luongo, whose contract and term served to scare off teams that might trade for him. ‘Stuck’ with an elite goalie with an unmovable contract, the Canucks were forced to trade Schneider instead, and reinstall Luongo in the crease. Roberto had already been prepared to move on from Vancouver, so his readjustment to the position of franchise cornerstone will be an interesting one. The Canucks will be forced to hope that he is able to refocus and deliver a few more strong seasons in net if they are to win a Cup any time soon.
Key #2: Strong Sedins
It’s unlikely that the NHL will ever see a pair of talents like Daniel and Henrik Sedin ever again. The twins have been dominant scoring machines for the Canucks for over a decade.
But to date, they have been unable to lead their team to the promised land of a Stanley Cup victory, and that may prove to be what they are remembered for.
The window for them to alter that legacy is closing, as both are reaching the end of their years as prime contributors. If they want to hoist Lord Stanley’s Cup this year, they both need to deliver career seasons and make just as much of an impact in the playoffs as well.
Key #3: Good coaching
After years of Alain Vigneault behind the bench, the Canucks decided to move on and secured the coaching services of the controversial John Tortorella, recently fired by the New York Rangers. Oddly enough, the Rangers hired Vigneault for their vacant coaching position. Time will tell which team got the best of this ‘coach trade’, but the Canucks hope the fiery Torts can push them further.
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